3D TV: Minority interest for years to come
Regular HD TVs swim in mainstream
Anyone hoping that 3D TV will greatly boost the consumer electronics industry will find the latest research from DisplaySearch less than comfortable reading, despite its affirming headline data.
The market watcher estimates 1.2m 3D-capable HD TVs will ship this year, which sounds like a large number. DisplaySearch expects the annual total to rise to 15.6m units - an even more impressive figure - in 2013 and then to 64m in 2018.
That's colossal annual growth. But before you prepare to welcome our new 3D overlords, let us consider the overall HD TV market.
DisplaySearch also posts its forecast for "connected" TVs - TVs with on-board networking so they can access the internet through a home broadband router - and it believes around 73m will ship in 2012. The same year will see around 9m 3D TVs ship,.
In other words, connected HD TVs will outship 3D TVs by a factor of more than eight. Even if we assume all 3D TVs are connected TVs, that still means more than seven times as many non-3D TVs will ship than 3D-capable ones.
And that's before you factor in the number of HD TVs that ship that are neither connected nor equipped with 3D technology. Last year, DisplaySearch forecast 2010 LCD TV shipments will total 171m units. That's ignoring plasma and OLED.
Subtract the number of 3D TVs and the number of connected TVs from that - not an entirely justified calculation because some tellies will do both, but let's be conservative - and you're left with 131.8m non-3D, not connected screens.
Alas, we don't have a figure for projected TV sales in 2012, but even if there's no growth between now and then, non-3D models will outsell 3D TVs by 18:1.
Even by 2018, that means 3D TVs will be outsold by non-3D models by almost two times - and, again, that assumes no growth in the overall telly market.
So, based on DisplaySearch's numbers, 3D is not going to enter the mainstream in the home anytime soon. More advanced TV markets may adopt it more keenly than others do, but it's still not going to become a mass upgrade movement. ®
Just a gimmick?
I enjoyed Avatar in 3D, but I'm not sure how effective it would be on a small screen. My real problem with 3D is that our visual sense is more sophisticated than the current gadgets. Although the primary source of our 3D view of the real world is the slightly different views from our left and right eyes, the brain is adept at using other cues as well (which is why people who have lost the sight in one eye can still judge depths with surprising accuracy).
These include the focal length of the adjustable lenses in our eyes and parallax generated when we move the position of our heads. These latter two features are not reproduced by our current TV or cinema 3D technologies, leading to a disconnect between the apparent 3D depth and the other cues. Perhaps holograms are the answer?
If the porn industry ....
adopts 3d tv, then expect the takeup of 3dtv to be greater.
Regardless of your morale stance with regards to the porn industry, you can't deny the fact that its a massive driving influence in the technology stakes.
I believe . . .
. . . the 3D currently used in cinemas (RealD) doesn't work if your eyes aren't broadly level - so laying down on the couch to watch a film would be out of the question.
Besides which, average length of ownership for TV's (especially in the UK), is quite long (7 years the last I heard) - most people have just updated to HDTV of some kind, who's going to scrap that for a minority product (I know HD is still a minority product, but the benefit was switching from heavy, bulky CRT's to light, thin and larger LCD/Plasma).
Tech folks too young to remember...
....the fact this 1940/50s gimmick is only being rolled out once again to help Hollywood boost ticket sales in a recession to films that tanked in 2D to preview audiences.
Take a crap film (some "I know what you bloody Saw 8") run it through the 3D process and you guarantee 50% more gross for a film that should have gone straight to DVD. "The dimwits in the 14 to 25 age bracket will love it!" Anyone older knows how shit it is.
It's a crappy gimmick and not pushing the boundaries of TV/film tech at all.
Plenty of other things we need to concentrate on than this.
HD Ready today, 3D Ready tomorrow!
In the same way HD Ready TVs have rapidly become the norm, despite few consumers having access any actual HD content, I see no reason why the bulk of new sets will not become "3D Ready" at a similarly swift pace.
Once 3D channels from Sky/Sony/ESPN/Discovery begin broadcasting, the standards will become fixed and the cost of manufacture will fall, leading to "3D Ready" becoming just another sticker that consumers look for when buying a new TV, even if it's "just in case".