We realize how fun it is to get the latest and greatest gadget and 3D TVs are quickly becoming the darlings of "must have" items. But waiting could save you money and disappointment.
Buy now and you'll pay the highest price, period. Not so bad when you're talking about a new MP3 player, but you'll spend thousands of dollars on a new 3D TV. For instance, a 40-inch Panasonic 3D TV will cost about $1,800, and a 55-inch will be about $2,700. For comparison, you can get a Sony Bravia 40-inch LCD TV for about $629 and a Samsung 58-inch Plasma HDTV for about $1,500. Basically, you're paying about $1,000 more for the right to own a 3D TV first.
And then the hassles begin:
Glasses: I hate wearing these things at a movie theater, let alone at home. But you must wear special glasses to watch 3D programs. Without them, images are blurry. And don't lose the pair that comes with your new TV, extra pairs cost about $150 each. You can watch non-3D shows without glasses, however.
Content: There isn't much out there yet. And before you buy 3D Blu-ray movies (which won't be cheap), you need to invest in a good Blu-ray player in order to watch 3D movies at home. ESPN, DirecTV and Discovery Channel are expected to offer content eventually, but you'll have to wait for their content as well as shows from other providers. Consumer Reports tested several new sets in its labs--the first hands-on evaluation outside the manufacturers' facilities--and found that the sets live up to their advance billing, but the average consumer shouldn't rush out to buy one.
Early Reports: Consumer Reports says tests of two Samsung LCD sets and a Panasonic plasma TV with 3D capability are "impressive." Full results are available at www.ConsumerReports.org. The 3D images had excellent depth, color, and high-def details, creating a compelling 3D picture as good as a movie theater.
However, CR recommends that consumers who are satisfied with their current HDTV home set up should wait, adding that the price of 3DTVs, which ranges from $1,700 to $7,000, will eventually drop.
What was found:
CR reports that all three sets delivered eye-catching three dimensional effects in full 1080p resolution and they also provided an acceptably bright picture, important because 3D glasses can make images appear dimmer. The Samsung LCD TVs displayed subtle ghosting of 3D images to varying degrees in different scenes. Such ghosting, technically called "crosstalk," indicates that the images for each eye aren't being kept completely separate, as they should be. The ghosting was distracting when visible and it detracted from the 3D effect. Also, when testers tilted their heads, as if lying on the couch, the picture dimmed a bit on both Samsungs.
On the Samsung 7000 model, testers also noticed some cloudiness caused by uneven backlighting in darker scenes, which was a bit distracting. Testers were able to minimize cloudiness on the 8000 by lowering the backlight and using the "smart LED" dimming feature. Like most LCD sets, both sets have a fairly narrow viewing angle, so picture quality degraded as the viewer moved off center.
Despite these minor glitches, Consumer Reports found that the Samsung sets provided excellent picture detail and satisfying colors and contrast with 3D and regular HD content. The glasses were lighter and more comfortable to wear than the Panasonic's.
The Panasonic plasma displayed negligible crosstalk and no cloudiness, adding to the realism of the 3D effect. The viewing angle is virtually unlimited and testers saw no change in image brightness when they tilted their heads. Picture detail and black levels were excellent. The Panasonic model might have the best motion resolution of any flat-panel TV CR has ever tested. Detail remained sharp and clear even in test patterns designed to reveal blur in fast-moving images.
Want a new 3D TV? Waiting will be a good thing
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