Wednesday, May 18, 2011

3D: Samsung Goes Actively Passive

May 18, 2011. At CES in January, Samsung and company (including Sony, Panasonic and others) positioned active 3DTV Shutter Glasses as the “step-up technology” from lighter, lower-cost passive shutter glasses. Active technology keeps 3D display resolution high, but at the cost of a dimmer image, heavy glasses, and added expense to the consumer that (depending on the number of glasses needed) can approach 25% or more of the cost of the TV.

Other issues, including the impracticality of keeping enough pairs of 3D glasses on hand to serve the needs of guests, then keeping track of the expensive accessories, only added to the grief associated with moving to 3D at home adoption.

Too much! Cried LG at CES, as the company threw all its weight behind the passive approach, stating its research showed consumers could overlook the ½ resolution 3D image downgrade in favor of the benefits associated with using low-cost (sometimes no-cost) passive glasses that just happen to work with the RealD versions that many consumers kept from a recent trip to a 3D movie.

But here at the 2011 SID conference on the opening day of the show floor, Samsung and RealD (yep the same one with passive shutter glasses that work with LG) announced a joint licensing agreement in which Samsung will license and make RDZ version passive 3DTVs that support a full 1080p resolution to each eye—not the half resolution used in the LG approach.

Clearly Samsung has done a re-think on the “step-up” messaging it was giving with the active 3D shutter glasses approach. The company may have recognized the wisdom in the LG customer centric approach, and did their rival one better with its no-compromise passive shutter glass solution for its 3DTV at home.
Reports say Samsung will ship a pair of 3D monitors first (23- and 27-inch class) with a 55-inch class 3DLCD TV to follow. With passive glasses getting so much attention these days, perhaps the biggest winner is RealD. – Steve Sechrist

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