Attack of the 3D TVs!(Read article summary)
Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic are among the companies expected to release 3D TVs in 2010. But how many consumers will welcome the 3D revolution into their own living room?
And you thought you could leave those geeky 3D shades in the cineplex. Over the next couple months, Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic will roll out a range of high-end 3D TV sets intended to appeal to the same audiences that fueled the blockbuster success of 3D flicks such as "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland." In a statement to the press, Sony exec Yoshihisa Ishida said 3D TVs would "liberate 3D from the confines of movie theatres."
Ishida predicted that Sony could sell 2.5 million 3D sets in 2010 – a massive number for such an early market, no matter which way you slice it. And Ishida isn't alone in his optimism. Samsung says it will ship 2 million 3D sets by the end of the year, and Panasonic, which will begin retailing 3D sets at BestBuy Wednesday, has plans to crank out at least a million 3D units. (A hat tip to Jared Newman at PC World for the numbers.)
So how much will consumers be expected to pay for a living-room 3D experience? It depends. A 42-inch 3D set from Sony would go for just under $4K, according to the BBC. Samsung's 55-inch 3D TV, on the other hand, is now selling on Amazon for $2,969. The prices are high, but not necessarily prohibitive – plenty of folks shelled out more than that at the outset of the HD revolution.
Still, there are a few roadblocks to a serious 3D TV revolution. First of all, it's not just enough to buy a 3D TV. You also need the glasses, a 3D-ready Blu-ray player, a high-speed HDMI cable, and probably – per BestBuy – some sort of HDMI pass-through device. Then you'll need to find a movie to watch. Sure, you'll be able to watch "Avatar" when it hits shelves. And maybe some more flicks will trickle out onto disc in the next few months.
But as Gartner analyst Fernando Elizalde points out, the success of the 3D sets will be tethered to the amount of available content, which is currently pretty scarce. "I'm not very optimistic about 3D TV as it is today, I see more negatives than positives," Elizalde told the BBC. "The biggest barriers to growth in 3D TV are the lack of content, the inconvenience of wearing glasses and that millions of consumers have only just upgraded to high-definition sets."