Is 3D really the future of home cinema?

While JVC's 3D tech was 'passive', Bono was very much active on stage
While JVC's 3D tech was 'passive', Bono was very much active on stage

IFA may draw to a close this Thursday, but the subject of 3D technology will be open for debate long after the doors shut.

Whether we like it or not, 3D is coming to the home in 2010. While the way we will get 3D piped into our living rooms is yet to be set in stone, the sheer amount of companies at IFA pledging their allegiance to the format means that the industry is resigned to the fact that this is where the future of home entertainment is heading.

And who can blame them? During this economic turmoil consumer electronics manufacturers need to innovate. They have to stay ahead of the game and bring to market TVs that make Joe Public bin their current flat-screen TVs in favour of shiny new ones.

But why 3D, and why now? Speaking at the Blu-ray Disc Association press conference, Ben Carr, from Walt Disney Home Entertainment, said: "It's all about technology. Digital cinema has enabled us to do things theatrically as we couldn't do before, and now we can do the same in the home."


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This may be true for those creating the 3D content but when it comes to the manufacturers making the TV sets to play the content, the reasoning is different.

TV makers surpassed themselves when they brought high-definition televisions to market. The quality of the HD signal meant consumers witnessed clarity in images that they had only seen on cinema screens or through very expensive home cinema projectors.

Now with HD content becoming readily available, there's no real push to exchange a 1080p panel for something new just yet.

Yes, new TVs are brighter (using LED backlight technology), thinner, and can handle fast-moving action better, but all these tech advancements are purely cosmetic.

panasonic 3d

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With regards to the next big thing in TV tech there were two paths the industry could have gone down: OLED and 3D.

OLED looks to be the loser here, as only two manufacturers are currently seeing the technology as a viable money spinner: Sony and LG.

With Sony not announcing an update to its 11-inch XEL-1 OLED panel, and only LG showing off the technology (in terms of TVs) at IFA, there doesn't seem to be enough drive for OLED to take over from LCD and Plasma. And with prices of OLED sets currently astronomical, the technology looks likely to be put on the mass-market back burner for now.

This has left the well-worn path of 3D for TV makers to embrace – something Sony and Panasonic did at this year's IFA, and to a lesser extent Philips.

Sony has created the biggest 3D buzz as it actually showed off some new technology, with its 3D-Ready Bravia LCD TVs.

sony 3d

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Using Active Shutter glasses, the TVs show 1080p content alternatively to each eye, with the glasses opening and shutting in sync. This type of 3D brings depth to the image, rather than having the image pop out at you.

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.