Toshiba readies 'cinema specs' 3D TVs
Preps 40in glasses-less set too
Toshiba World 2011 Toshiba could have 40in-plus glasses-free 3D TV sets - the ZL2 family - out in Europe by the end of the year, but specs-essential sets based on cinema-style passive technology on sale much sooner.
Toshiba released its first glasses-less 3D TVs in Japan late last year. Sales have been described as disappointing, a point company officials were eager to contradict today. It's not that sales were huge, they admitted, simply that the incredibly expensive sets were never expected to sell in huge numbers anyway.
Not only price, we'd say, but size too: the top model is just 22in.
Bigger sets, closer to familiar HD TV sizes, that make up the ZL2 line will be more desirable, though there's no indication that they will be anything more than premium-price products for the foreseeable future.
The passive tellies may do better. Bundled with four pairs of cheap 3D glasses of the kind you get at the pictures, the VL series will debut in June as 42in and 47in models. They are Toshiba's first, though LG has been offering passive tellies for a some time.
Like Toshiba, other telly makers are taking note. Punters seem less keen on active shutter glasses, which are expensive and less comfortable to wear than glasses that aren't so very different from a pair of sunglasses. There's no crosstalk problems, either.
That said the VL sets, unlike Toshiba's other 3D offerings, are not described by the company as "Full 3D". So while they are 1920 x 1080 resolution sets with 1080p support for HD content, you won't get 1080p 3D playback - more like 540p, as half of the vertical resolution is used for each eye's view.
The 42in VL863
It doesn't matter, claimed Sascha Lange, head of marketing for Toshiba Europe Visual Products, as the brain perceives greater sharpness with a 3D image than a 2D picture. The image has a lower resolution, but it doesn't look like it's a lower resolution view.
The polaroid filters used to 'separate' out each eye's image have to be aligned to the pixels rows very precisely, but that's now easier - and therefore cheaper - to do than it was before, Lange insisted. He said the VL series will be "mid-range" sets, not premium ones.
Toshiba said its future 3D TVs will automatically up the brightness and colour characteristics during 3D playback to better cancel out the dimming effect of the specs' polaroid lenses.
That's not a problem with the glasses-free sets. On the basis of Toshiba's demo unit, though, it's still not ideal. Yes, the picture is bright and vivid, and it does work. But the viewing angle is more narrow than TVs that use glasses - though it's not dead-on-only as per the Nintendo 3DS.
Perhaps Toshiba could have picked better demo material. During Square Enix's Final Fantasy: Not Another One? trailer, specially made for 3D, some left-eye and right-eye elements separated out, leading to a double-vision look. A quick bend of the head fixed the problem, but it shows how easy it is to mess up the picture. Few of us sit stock still while watching movies.
Other segments looked great, and if this is the true future of 3D TV, there's work to be done in the meantime to get it right. Toshiba says it'll "launch" the glasses-free sets before April 2012, but Lange added they will be in the be in the shops before then, possibly much earlier. ®
Give me 3D without glasses and I'm in. Even if there's little content, the other Register article about the still-working ancient TV only had two hours service/day when it was bought, you have to start somewhere. But no glasses please, it's a dead end.
Just because you can doesn't mean you should
Perhaps sales are disappointing in Japan because 3d is a pointless technology that gives little (or no) benefit to the programme or film being watched. Far from enhancing the viewing experience, 3D Cinema or TV just ads more distraction.
Just because you can build a glasses-less 3d television doesn't mean you should.
Perhaps rather than silly gimmickery to entice people to watch their incredibly expensive television sets, they should invest the money into production companies making more engaging and less gimmicky television programming.
Where's the content?
I have a 3d tv - I was in the market for a new telly and thought I may as well - but so far I'm not seeing the compelling content. I haven't used 3D mode in months.
AFAICT there were a few demo/launch games hastily adapted for it by Sony, a couple of animated films reworked for it and.... that's it.
I quite like the technology, but there's no way to use it much at present
It may well work
Since broadcast 3D (both Sky and VM) is side by side and half horizontal resolution anyway... I bet it'd knacker gaming though.
That said, I have zero interest in active systems.. £100 for a pair of glasses that might potentially break/be sat on/etc. is a complete nonstarter. The LG passive can be had for as little as £800 now, but it apparently isn't much cop on the 2D front so still waiting.
The future really is much higher horizontal resolutions.. Displays will eventually need need to do that anyway to increase the resolution in the Z direction (which is a tiny fraction of the X resolution, due to the way 3d works).
"you won't get 1080p 3D playback - more like 540p, as half of the vertical resolution is used for each eye's view."
So I pay twice as much for something half as good as what I have now.
As Dr. Evil would say, "Riiiiiiiggggghhhhhtttttttttttt......"