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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Do we really want 3D TV?

Hey, did you like that "Avatar" movie? Wasn't it cool with those big blue Thundercat things and the chick everybody hated from "Lost" flying a helicopter, all in glorificous 3-D so real it was practically knocking over your $30 bucket of popcorn? Didn't you just love those pinchy glasses you had to wear, and the massive headache you had when the three-hour non-stop explosions and gunfire were all done? Didn't you say to yourself, "Now if only I could have a similar experience watching 'Wheel of Fortune' at home."

The technology gods heard you, and if this week's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is any indication, they are working overtime to make 2010 the year America finally gets 3D TV. According to the Las Vegas Sun, 3D television sets are one of the must-see items at the annual trade show, with several leading manufacturers even expected to announce release dates and pricing information. (Spoiler alert: EXPENSIVE.)

Broadcasters are starting to get into the act, too. ESPN announced this week it would be launching a new network, ESPN 3D, in June, and would air at least 85 live sporting events (fingers crossed for World Series of Poker in 3D). And the Discovery Channel is looking to team up with Sony and IMAX to launch a full-time 3D channel sometime in 2011.

Admittedly, those two networks are a perfect fit for the new technology. How great would it be to watch a Packers game at home, and feel like you're right there on the field? Aaron Rodgers is calling plays, to you! You may as well be running those routes with Donald Driver! Go, Rudy, go! Why, you'd be so popular with your 3D TV, and your 3D ESPN, and your 3D snack tray, that everybody on the block will want to come over to your house to watch the game!

And wear 3D glasses. That you will have to buy. FOR EVERYBODY.

Remember when I said this was going to be expensive?

Yes, if you want to jump aboard this 3D TV train, be prepared to pay out the caboose. That new 52-inch HDTV you bought yourself for Christmas? Hope it looks good in your bedroom, because you'll need to buy a whole new, 3D-ready set, which will likely cost around $2,000. And those glasses? Anywhere from $50-$100 a pop. You'll probably have to get a special cable box put in, too. Not to mention all the Advil you're going to want to stock up on, thanks to those lovely 3D-induced headaches, see above.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the idea of 3D entertainment. I actually liked the depth and scope it added to movies like "Avatar" and "Up." (I didn't like the extra $2 ticket surcharge, but whatever.) I just don't think it's necessary. See, we humans have this little thing called "imagination," which we can utilize (for free!) to look at a 2D photo or movie and immerse ourselves in it. Is it worth thousands of dollars to bypass that innate ability, just to sit around wearing dorky glasses in our living rooms?

Maybe. I mean, it does sound pretty cool, right? But then again, I thought the same thing about Virtual Boy...

What do you think about 3D TV? Would you spend money on it? Let us know. And for some further reading on the topic, check out this New York Times article, and this article from

-- Adam Reinhard,



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