Twenty percent of all TVs will be 3D by the end of 2011 according to Currys, a figure that's also roughly the same as the TV market share of Samsung, which dominates our round up of 'cheap' 3D TVs.
Currys is just one of several major retailers currently on a pre-Christmas depth charge. With slashed prices for the latest 3D TVs and with Best Buy, John Lewis, Pixmania et al bundling-in everything from 3D Blu-ray players, extra pairs of 3D glasses and even 3D movies, now is the time to get on the 3D bandwagon… if you have a spare £1,000.
In the absence of a festive 3D Bond film (perhaps next year), stick a 3D Blu-ray copy of Shrek or Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs in your back pocket, and prepare for a grand day out.
1. Samsung PS50C680 3D plasma TV & Samsung BD-C5900 3D Blu-ray player
Total price: £899 from Best Buy
New to the UK and now selling online, North American giant retailer Best Buy offers perhaps the best deal around for 3D fans. Combining the 50-inch PS50C680 with a BD-C5900 3D Blu-ray player that normally retails for £199 makes for a great package – the plasma itself is a mere Freeview HD tuner away from the spec of the stunning, but pricier PS50C6900 3D plasma. It's out of stock as we write, but due to go live again on 25 November.
2. Panasonic TX-P42GT20 3D plasma TV
Total price: £1,099 from HiFix
Besides being one of the finest 3D TVs around in terms of pure picture quality, this 42-incher from the Viera stable also chucks in some novel 2D-to-3D scaling.
One of the TVs credited with bringing plasma technology back from the brink, the TX-P42GT20 is a step down in quality from the sensational (and more expensive) TX-P42VT20, but represents easily the best 3DTV in its price range. If you want the best around, Panasonic's 50-inch TX-P502VT20 plasma is selling for £1,799.99 at Best Buy.
3. Samsung PS50C490 3D plasma TV
Total price: £771 from Pixmania
If you don't mind a bit of continental cost cutting, this model for the French market is being sold by Pixmania for a very low price. Originally mooted to sell for around £915, the PS50C490 includes Samsung;s 3D Hyper Real engine, but cuts-out the DLNA Allshare media streaming capabilities you'll find on its slightly higher-spec brother, the 50-inch PS50C680.
A two-year warranty comes standard – and Pixmania also throw in a mains adaptor – though shipping fees start at £77.60. To put this deal in context, Samsung's smaller 46-inch UE46C8000 LED-backlit 3DTV is selling on Best Buy for £1,989.99.
4. Philips 40PFL8605H & PTA02 3D transmitter + two pairs of 3D glasses
Total price: £1,199.95 from Richer Sounds
Philips 8000 and 9000 Series of LED-backlit TVs are slightly unusual in that they need a 3D upgrade kit to become fully-fledged 3D screens. Comprising a PTA02 3D transmitter and a couple of pairs of 3D glasses, Richer Sounds are bundling the £250 kit with this 40-inch TV that on its own can't be got for less than £1,150.
And the 40PFL8605H is a serious screen, offering exceptional contrast and black level performance and dampening-down the crosstalk issue that affects many non-plasma 3DTVs. There is, however, no sign of a Freeview HD tuner.
5. Samsung LE40C750 3D LCD TV + Samsung BD-C5900 3D Blu-ray player + 3D glasses + Shrek 3D box set
Total price: £899 from John lewis
That one of the cheapest 3DTVs around is being bundled by a major electrical retailer is no surprise, but the sheer breadth of this deal is particularly attractive for anyone after an all-in-one 3D shopping spree.
At just 40 inches, it's perhaps too small for totally immersive 3D viewing, but the LE40C750 – a smaller cousin of the LE46C750 includes a lot of Samsung extras, such as YouTube via Internet@TV, but is blighted by some crosstalk noise with 3D material.
That's a shame, but the inclusion of a Freeview HD tuner, a pair of Samsung's £99 SSG-V2100AB 3D glasses, free delivery and a five-year guarantee on the TV might convince.
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