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A Guide to Understanding 3D TV

If you’ve not yet experienced 3D TV, then you really should nip along to a Comet store near you and see it in action.

It’s the biggest technology talking point right now but if you don’t feel confident about chatting through the finer points with friends and family, read this guide. We’ll have you bluffing your way through it like an expert in no time.

What is 3D TV?

3D TV is the latest development in high definition television, allowing TV programmes and films to look more lifelike and as you may seem them with your own eyes, by using a compatible television.

The technology has moved on a long way since the 1980s. Gone are those red and blue plastic lenses in cardboard glasses. If you’ve experienced 3D films in the cinema already, then the idea is much the same. Except now, you won’t need to leave your living room to enjoy it.

What equipment do I need to watch 3D TV?

Obviously, you will need a compatible 3D TV. Most of the major manufacturers, including Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Philips and Toshiba now produce them and prices start at around £900.

You will also need a pair of 3D glasses. All 3D TVs should come with at least one pair of glasses, but you may need to buy more for the rest of the family. They can either be Active or Passive in the technology used. The first has the 3D tech built-in to the specs, which makes them more expensive to buy. The second one does all the work through the TV, allowing them to be cheaper and lighter.

To actually receive the 3D content, you will need a digital set top box from the likes of Sky or Virgin Media, a 3D Blu-ray player or games console such as the PlayStation 3. A software download for that machine allows it to play 3D games.

A lot of other hardware though is also becoming 3D ready, including desktop and notebook computers, monitors and mobile devices. Nintendo is even working on a 3D DS gaming handheld coming out next March, which doesn’t even need glasses.

What can I watch in 3D?

Sky has just launched its first 3D channel featuring a range of content from across its network. Programming includes sporting events, documentaries, music concerts and films. You’ll need a Sky+HD box and subscription to the top end package to get it.

A number of Blu-ray titles are also now being released with a 3D option. You can buy these for playing on an ordinary Blu-ray player and HDTV and then watch the 3D element when you upgrade to a 3D TV.

Virgin Media has announced it will produce its own 3D programmes, and other broadcasters and studios will release 3D content in the coming 12 months.

Why is 3D TV more expensive?

As with any new technology, the costs are higher for a number of reasons, including hardware manufacturing and content production expenses. This means there is generally lower consumer take-up at present, which keeps the prices high.

But as more and more companies produce the TVs, the cost will come down and they will all compete to sell at the lowest prices. The price will then begin to fall just like it did previously with flat screen tellies, HDTVs and Blu-ray players.

Is it worth buying 3D yet?

If you are due to upgrade your TV anyway right now, it is worth considering a 3D option to future-proof your living room technology. But it really depends how often you think you’ll watch 3D. Right now, there isn’t a lot of content available, but more and more is on its way. Now that Sky have their own 3D channel, they are pushing the format forward with innovative shows like “Flying Monsters 3D“, their big Christmas Day presentation starring Sir David Attenborough. It may only be a matter of time before the technology is as normal as HD.


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