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Philips cautious on 3D TV plans

Prototype on show, but undecided on 3D system

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IFA That stalwart of the screenplay, William Goldman, summarises Hollywood in one brief statement: “Nobody knows anything.” This appears to be apt to describe the state of 3D TV at present, if Philips’ stance is anything to go by.

Philips 3D TV prototype

Philips keeps its options open: this 3D prototype relies on a polarising system and glasses

While just about all telly manufacturers see 3D TV as the holy grail in home cinema, that will spawn millions of replacement sets in households across the globe, nobody currently knows which horse to back.

At IFA, Philips outlined three possible technological approaches to this issue. The most basic option is to use a normal LCD TV coupled with a special lens and glasses. The second method involves a faster LCD with active glasses. While the third and somewhat vaguely described option is an LCD with a particular lens and no glasses.

Philips 3D TV prototype

An adapted 21:9 ambilight TV puts on the show

Apparently, the company is, literally, looking at all three techniques on its R&D benches and had on show a prototype running on its flagship 21:9 TV. Behind this system is a micro-polarising lens and, you guessed it, those indoor sunglasses.

Philips seemed quite comfortable sitting on the fence, hinting that OLED might be the answer and also making overtures about quad HD TV to offer four times the resolution with likely benefits for 3D TV too. However, the company was going to refrain from making any announcements in the 3D space until ‘the market was ready’.

Philips 3D TV prototype

Prototype Blu-ray 3D player with a home theatre amp

One issue for the company is that a Blu-ray 3D standard has yet to be established but when it is - and whatever it is - Andreas Ragnetti, Philips’ Executive VP and CEO for Consumer Lifestyle, stated that it will be adopted in all the company’s new Blu-ray players. No format wars from Philips then.

Philips 3D TV prototype

Men in black watch 3D TV: Philips isn’t convinced this is a look that will catch on

Players aside, the other problem is those pesky consumers. The company’s own 3D TV market research has it wondering, can the viewer be arsed to wear glasses? When hunting for the remote control is daily ritual in most households, will people buy a TV with a spec that demands specs? It would seem that question will remain in the frame, while Philips focuses on the best way to present such a spectacle. ®

IFA 2009: Complete Coverage

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