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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

3D: I kind of already hate you

Posted on March 11, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Can we all get together in a drum circle and bang out a few beats to slow down the marketing juggernaut which is 3D TV? Seriously, it's not even really out yet (though Panasonic had a small roll-out this week at select Best Buy Magnolia stores) and yet it is ALL anyone in the industry can talk about. Google CES 2010 and see if your browser doesn't choke on 3D results. Rather than straddling the fence on 3D, I'm still pretty much in the 2D camp, looking over the fence, sneering and hocking the occasional loog.

Here's a few reasons why I'm already kind of over 3D.

1) Like millions of people, I just upgraded my old HDTV. (Which, incidentally, was an upgrade to a previous HDTV...) I'm not going to replace my 60-inch Pioneer Elite (or, dear God, my Marantz front projector) after about 1.5 years of service.

1A) Did I say upgraded my TV? What about also upgraded my Blu-ray AND my A/V processor. For 3D to work, you'll need all new, HDMI 1.4a compliant stuff. Better call Visa and give that limit a bump. (I'm assuming that my remote control system will be immune, just requiring hours of reprogramming...)

2) 3D kind of feels like a marketing bum-rush. TV manufacturers have run out of compelling ways to get us to buy new sets so they're looking for that next killer app, even if it isn't that killer.

"Quick, boys! We've reached 2 million pixels of resolution, 480-hertz refresh rates, added Web connectivity and dropped the prices to the point where we're losing money on each set. We've used technology like Plasma, LED, and even frickin' lasers! What can we do to sell some sets here?"
"Uhhh, people seem to like Avatar."

"Avatar? The movie that lost best picture?"

"Well, umm, I was thinking more about the movie that has grossed more than any other film of all time."

"Sounds like a winner. What makes it tick?"
"3D you say? Do it! Now, someone get me marketing!"

3) I've seen the 3D demos. In fact, I think I've seen just about all of them, even ones behind closed doors where you can't talk about them, and while it is pretty cool for 10-15 minutes, I don't want to wear glasses when I watch TV. An event movie like (OK, I'll say it, though realize it is begrudgingly) Avatar sure, but even then, at the 2 hour mark, I'm rubbing my eyes.

4) I do other things when I'm watching TV. Much to my wife's delight, I like to surf the Net, check e-mail, sometimes write product reviews, read a magazine, stare into a ruby-red glass of Cabernet and dream, whatever.

5) How many pair of glasses do I need to buy? The first TV bundle will include A PAIR of glasses. I guess that's actually OK, cause the majority of people buying this first batch of sets probably live alone, so.... But, for the rest of us, that will mean ponying up for multiple extra sets of $149-199 glasses. "Gee, I'd love to have you over for a movie, but...  Say, here's a jolly of a roger, why don't you give me $400 and I'll buy you and your wife a set of glasses so you can enjoy the show." And you just KNOW that they glasses you buy for your set won't work with my set, so there'll be none of that hey-bring-your-Wii-remote over stuff.

6) Hardware is all well and good, but as my man Bill Gates ("I call him money for short...") likes to say, Software is Emperor. (OK, maybe BG never said that, but you know he thinks it every time he ponders his 10-figure bank statement.) Until there is a BUNCH of good software, your new 3D TV is just like my 2D TV. (Actually, I have a Pioneer Elite, so it isn't even as good as my TV. Sorry.) And how many people are going to spend $3000 to watch Avatar? (PS: Little heads-up; they say it won't even be out on 3D Blu-ray this year. So I hope you really like watching animation!)

7) A great movie (Up) doesn't need 3D, and a bad movie (Journey to the Center of the Earth) isn't saved by it.

Categories: Mar 2010, TV, 3D TV

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Reply John Sciacca
2:32 PM on March 11, 2010 
This came to me in an e-mail, and I thought I'd post it:

Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents on the 3-D conversation. I couldn?t agree more with you. Let?s let those marketing guys lead us down another path to disappointment and cynicism as we push to roll out yet another ?better idea? that involves trashing all the stuff you just bought (after agonizing over the decision), multiple compatibility issues, and a lack of software support. When will our industry learn? I guess if we go all the way back to L-cassette, Beta vs. VHS, Quad, Laser Discs, DVD-A, SACD, ad nauseam, we might just see a pattern here. At this point, I see 3-D as another desperate attempt to create some kind of excitement now that we have commoditized just about every category in CE. And of course, we know that it?s ALWAYS best to be first as opposed to doing it right.

Mike Lang
Definitive Technology
Southeastern Regional Sales Manager
Reply Rob Medich
5:37 PM on March 18, 2010 
Right on, John! In fact, I think even I look better in only 2D.
Reply Dan
3:29 PM on March 29, 2010 
THIS is why I will keep on slapping my old CRT 32" Sony XBR back to life. It blacks out, I give it the wake up slap; everything is fine. If I am successful, this procedure will last until 3D is old technology. Then I will hoist that monster of a set (hopefully with a friend- John, when are you coming out?) drop it off at an electronic recycling site where many will look on with awe as it smashes it's way through multitudes of old plasma sets, finding the very bottom of the trash container. Old timers there will even recall the days when TV's had tubes that would burn out and had to be replaced. After that, I will listen to John discuss the latest OLED 3D technology that can unfold from a palm size set to something that can be proudly displayed on a living room wall.
Reply John Sciacca
5:22 PM on March 29, 2010 
Dan says...
THIS is why I will keep on slapping my old CRT 32" Sony XBR back to life.

What Dan didn't say was how I tried for several years to buy this set from him. Not because it represented the pinnacle of CRT design, oh no, but that I was worried for the very lives of his children! You see, Dan had this TV -- perhaps the heaviest thing ever forged from a solid billet of steel and iron -- sitting on a teetery stand not even suitable for holding a 12-pack of beer. I feared that his kids would run by, causing this to topple over on them, crashing down like a scorned god from Olympus!