3D: The Home Theater Revolution
If 2009 was the dawn of the latest 3D revolution, 2010 is certainly shaping up to be the same for the home theater. The 2010 Consumer Electronic Show held in Las Vegas in January, was the opportunity for consumer electronics companies including Sony, Panasonic, LG, Toshiba and Samsung (amongst others) to convince retailers, press and consumers to believe in their glasses-wearing 3D future.
For the most part, journalists were rather kind to the technology, but the overall feeling was "do we really need it?" - Demand is certainly there, but consumer interest might not translate into actual purchases; that will hang on over factors that we shall look at later. First, let's take a look at what equipment you will need to enjoy the extra dimension.
The biggest financial plunge will be for a new Television. Yes, no matter when you bought your nice new LCD or Plasma, you will need to buy another. The specification changes are far more advanced than a simple firmware upgrade can provide, which calls for 120Hz (100Hz in European/ Australian PAL territories) images to be fed to each eye to eliminate ghosting. TV manufacturers will at their discretion include one or more pairs of 3D glasses with each Television.
Obviously, every member of the family whom wishes to watch a film in 3D will need to purchase a pair of 3D glasses. This will incur additional costs, depending on manufacturer. Depending on which technology you decide to buy into, LCD or Plasma, the glasses designed for each brand may not necessarily work with other brands. So don't think you can save some cash by bringing over your friends pairs. The indication from Sony Australia is that an additional pair of glasses will be between $200 and $300 Australian dollars. Another specification necessity is HDMI 1.4, which 2010 3D capable Televisions will also sport. HDMI 1.3 was the previous version employed.
A new Blu-ray player will probably be in order, unless of course your Blu-ray player is the PlayStation 3, which will be upgraded for 3D playback in June. One may question how it is that 3 year old PlayStation 3 hardware which only features HDMI 1.3 can play such a pivotal part in the 3D revolution.
The answer lies in the powerful hardware that the PlayStation 3 features. In conjunction to heavy lifting that can be completed by the CELL processor and SPE's, the HDMI chip can be upgraded to enough of the HDMI 1.4 specification to qualify. Blu-ray players sold from mid year will be labelled suitable for 3D playback; however, most stand alone players on store shelves will not be 3D capable - so buyer aware. If you need to buy a player now, your best bet is the new slim PlayStation 3.
Finally, the last link is the home theatre receiver/ amplifier. For users whom use their receiver as a 'repeater'; that is, to send the signal onto your display device, will need to also replace the device. However, if you don't want to do this, you can run the HDMI direct to the television and then back to the receiver for audio.