10 reasons why 3D TV sucks, and why it will never catch on… for now anyway

A few of us gadget fans from SelectSpecs Towers took an arduous 4 hour trip up to the Birmingham NEC to see Jason Bradbury, Suzi Perry, Ortis Deley and John Bentley at the 2010 Gadget Show Live exhibition on the 10th April… “oooooh, splendid!” in my best John Bentley impression.

gadget show live 2010

We’ve arrived after a tiring 4 hour journey!

One of the things I was most eager to look at being a bit of a movie and general home cinema / electronics type of guy, was the brand spanking new 3D TV’s at several of the manufacturers stands.  From walking through the big entrance (above) I was immediately drawn to the massive Panasonic stand that dominated the hall, so this was the perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of the new 3D TV’s in all their glory.

gadget show live 2010

The 3D TVs at the Panasonic stand.  The picture is supposed to be that blurry…

We viewed 2 Panasonic 3D TV’s, a top of the range £2400 50″ and a prototype 103″ beast – While my feelings were that of being impressed after a short period of time, I was left with some major concerns at why 3D TV will never catch on in the home…

1. It’s expensive…

The current price is quite positively eye watering, £2400 will get you a Panasonic 50″ Plasma 3D TV and 2 pairs of Active Shutter Glasses.  This is great if you live on your own or with a partner, but add on a couple of kids and you will find you will need a couple of extra pairs of glasses at £100 each.  To put the cost in to perspective, a ‘normal’ 50″ Plasma TV by Panasonic can be purchased for around £700 from many retailers at this moment.

2. You need AT LEAST a 50″ TV for the best effect…

This comes from speaking with a Panasonic rep – you need a 50″ TV screen that fills your vision for the best effect, however, in today’s England, most new houses are pretty much the size of a rabbit hutch (yet cost just as much as a mansion) so finding the space in a corner or a spare wall for a TV this big is is no easy feat!  For the majority of homes a 42″ TV is just about right without the TV beginning to dominate the room and looking ridiculous.

3. The glasses are heavy…  and make you look stupid…

After wearing the Panasonic Active Shutter glasses for less than 2 minutes they were already beginning to feel heavy and uncomfortable on the bridge of my nose, I don’t really know how I’m meant to wear them for a movie totalling more than 2 hours without feeling uncomfortable.  Of course, technology will obviously improve and make the glasses lighter and more aesthetically pleasing but for the moment they are no good for me.

4. The Panasonic 3D glasses are expensive…

Each pair of the Panasonic Active Shutter Glasses costs £100, although you get 2 pairs ‘free’ with the TV most families have 2 adults and 2 children who will also want to enjoy the experience meaning you will need a further 2 pairs of glasses, then if you have your friends round for a Saturday night movie they will also need a pair to enjoy the experience.

Just to put the price of these glasses into perspective, for £100 you can also buy a rather nice pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, and I can pretty much guarantee you will look a hell of a lot cooler in the process!

5. My Prescription Glasses won’t fit…

I immediately noticed that if I needed to wear glasses for watching TV it would be unlikely that I would be able to experience 3D with the Panasonic TV sets. Why? well simply put while you are wearing the Active Shutter glasses there is no room to wear normal prescription glasses over the top or underneath.

6. It can cause headaches from eye strain…

After almost 3 hours of watching Avatar in the cinema I was feeling the onset of a headache, partly because of wearing glasses which were not particularly comfortable and partly because of the feeling of eye strain setting in – a similar feeling was becoming noticeable while trying out these 3D TVs after just 2 minutes.  Research also suggests that watching 3D tv is actually bad for your eyes as it forces them to act in an entirely unnatural way which causes the eye strain, headaches and fatigue, this has been labeled convergence-accommodation conflict.  Until this problem gets resolved it is very hard to see how 3D TV will become the mainstream product manufacturers so desire.

7. 3D doesn’t work for everyone…

If you are blind in one eye then 3D simply won’t work for you.  Some will also find that it gives them headaches and may make them feel nauseous and uncomfortable which prevents them from enjoying the experience.

8. There are different 3D technologies…

Panasonic and LG are 2 different examples that we noticed, this mean you cannot use the same glasses used on LG TVs on Panasonic TV’s, or any other make of TV in fact.

9. You need 3D compatible hardware…

More expense!  You need a 3D compatible Blu-Ray player and AV Receiver with HDMI 1.4 connectivity to get the ultimate 3D Home Cinema experience, and this will not be cheap at the moment or for the next few years.

10. Limited content available…

Finally, there is a limited amount of content available in 3D and this is likely to be the case for some time to come especially when 3D content costs more and takes longer to produce.  So any money spent on 3D viewing technology for your home is likely to provide a limited amount of enjoyment at this stage.

Final Note:
Don’t get me wrong, 3D TV to see for the first time is impressive especially when you’re used to seeing TV as a simple 2 dimensional image, but the problem for me lies with the technology being too expensive, a limited amount of content available and a requirement to wear a pair of uncomfortable glasses that just don’t suit me, and this puts me off for now.  No doubt in 5-10 years time prices will have fallen significantly and the technology will have improved somewhat meaning the glasses will be better (or perhaps non existent), the eye strain issues resolved, and the 3D technology built into TV’s as standard in much the same way HD technology is now.

In my opinion, I have a feeling this could go the way of Betmax and be a massive flop, but no doubt in 5 years time someone will come along to tell me just how wrong I was….

16 thoughts on “10 reasons why 3D TV sucks, and why it will never catch on… for now anyway

  1. Wasn't 3D tried at drive in movie theaters like back in the 1950's or 1960's??   How many drive in movie theaters do you see today??   Not many…LOL….  Rather than 3D,  maybe bringing back the drive in theaters is a much more interesting idea….(without the 3D that is…)

  2. Imagine your brain like a computer. Imagine your eyes like a weak onboard graphics controller. The cpu is supposed to do all the rendering in this case when an image is viewed, and your brain contains the CPU. Now here is where 3d sucks. 3d forces your brain, or cpu, to contradict itself and further process an image it knows it doesn't need to. SO your stressing out your cpu because of the lack of processing power due to your weak onboard graphics. Sooner or later the whole rig gives you the BSOD. In reality, that translates to a headache or a seizure lol
    I tried nVidia stereoscopic 3d with the red/cyan glasses while playing Batman Arkham, and Mafia II. Both became boring after the initial "ooohhh…ahhhhh" shock. I also watched Avatar in 3d when it came out and ended up with a roaring headache, almost like a migraine the rest of that day. No thanks, give me a HD LED screen over 3D technology anyday!

  3. Great article above and a constructive critique of the 3D technology, especially about its effects on vision. I believe the new 3D TV technology is moving at a very fast rate now and future developments may be able to alleviate the eyesight problem. There is now talk of 3D TV without glasses coming onto the market in the near future, which should hopefully help th eeyesight. Once the content for the 3D format is increased, then the uptake of 3D TVs will be much bigger.
    I’m a great fan of the technology and watching programs that look more realistic so can’t wait for further developments.
    Lets not forget the enhanced gaming experience that the technology provides.

  4. the reason wy 3d is being pushed so damn hard by the movie industry is they desp need another cash cow (read dvd in the 90s). they feel they have hit upon the perfect scheme, one they feel will also be hard for pirates to copy. as for tv corps such as sony etc they see a golden opportunity to cash in where their blue ray has failed in epic proportions. they dont really want to know about health side effects (esp for a new gen of kids) as long as they are making money, they figure they will perfect the tech as they go along and to hell with early adopters who will be the guinea pigs. if people are dumb enough to buy 3d tvs because they want to "have the latest thing" then they deserve what they get. i think its time the consumer started asking for quality instead of gimmics. speaking of gimmics….nintendo 3ds anyone?

  5. Everyones entitled to their own opinion. I'm a massive sports fan and watching 3D football is clearly better in my own eyes than watching normal HD broadcast.
    I myself have a 50" Panny TX-P50VT20 TV and delighted with it. Couldn't agree more with the glasses though as they are a major let down.
    As for the TV, I see it as an upgrade from my 37" LCD, 1) because screen size, and 2) 2D HD Picture Quality is vastly improved. The 3D picture is superb. Like everything in technology, you have your fans and your foes, I for one enjoy the 3D experience and I can understand that it isn't for everyone (Lets face it, if your not a hardcore fan of football and subscriber to sky, you'd be silly to spend your hard earn cash on one of these things at the moment).

  6. This article is old, but that is exactly why what you did is hilarious.  You said "never".  Most of the things you said in your top ten are no longer true, or were ridiculous in the first place.  The glasses make you look stupid.  Well, since we all watch are TVs at home all dressed up and ready to go out, I can see your point.  Who would want to wear glasses that make you look stupid while you are wearing your cool stained T-shirt and the sweat pants with the holes in them????
    Let's recap: #1. No longer true.  #2. Not true, I have a 46" 3D TV and it looks fine.  #3 – See above, #4 – This is still true, I'll give you that.  #5 – No longer true. #6&7- So a product can not be successful if it doesn't work for everyone?  I wonder how they sell so many golf clubs when so many people do not play.  #8 – Still somewhat true (so that 2 so far) #9-Really?  You mean like how you need a Blu-Ray player to play Blu-Ray discs?  I guess that's why Blu-Ray never caught on.  #10 – Really?  You mean how when Blu-Ray first came out there weren't a lot of titles available.
    Who are you?  This article is ridiculous.  
    Top ONE reason your article was stupid….You used the word NEVER.

  7. Boy am I stupid.  I didn't read the whole title.  I missed "for now anyway".  Now it is REALLY FUNNY.
    Your title is it will "NEVER CATCH ON – FOR NOW ANYWAY"

  8. Well, the glasses problem is nearly solved now, the prototypes are out and, OK, they still have some issues to iron out, but it's nearly there. soon as it is then 3D TV is going to explode, soon it will just be a given that every TV is 3D. Obviously it's going to be expensive for a while still, but just like all electronic goods, the price will come down quite quickly given time.

  9. 7 is pointless because most people aren't blind in one eye, so 3DTV is not doomed because of this.
    Of course 3DTV looks terrible at the moment. If that problem can be solved, then there will be no problem.
    Only if it can't, will it be doomed.

  10. its now 2013 and i bought a 60 in led sharp 240hz. works great. movies are sick in 3d. the dynamic settings in 2d almost look 3d. i also have a 3d video camera that takes great video. its like your still at the event. you can now upload to you tube in 3d and people that don't have 3d tvs can still see it in 3d with the cheap blue red glasses. i can watch a 3d you tube clip on you tube right from the tv because its hooked to the net with no problems. i think the glasses were cheep at 50 bucks but i guess that's a matter of what you think is expensive.the headaches my girlfriend gets but doesn't seem to bother me. i think if you have trouble comprehending things and your brain had to also decipher the image it gives you a head ache. sum it up. more movies in 3d would be great. boxing is sick and dont want to watch it any other way. glasses making you look stupid? what are you a 15 year old girl

  11. Well, I’m joining the party years after the fact, but doing so allows me to rebut some of these objections with years of 3D experience under my belt.
    1 – It’s not that pricey anymore. I held out and got a nice Samsung 65″ 3D TV with four pairs of active-shutter glasses for just under $2,000. The Blu-ray player was $120. And they’re still dropping. I always wait a few years before buying the latest thing.
    2 – Still true, but hardly a real complaint. Even 2D movies are generally better, or more immersive, on a big screen.
    3 – I don’t know if they’ve gotten lighter over the years or I’m just less sensitive, but once I put the glasses on, I don’t even think about it. I’ve never once thought they were uncomfortable. And why do I care if I “look stupid” while watching a movie? Do people often burst into your home unannounced to laugh at you while you sit on your sofa munching popcorn?
    4. – IDK about Panasonic glasses, but my Samsungs are $20 apiece. As mentioned before, four came with my set, so I spent an additional $40.
    5 – I don’t wear glasses. And, you know, contact lenses are a thing.
    6 – A legit complaint for some, but I’ve seen a ton of 3D and never once gotten a headache. Just lucky, I guess.
    7 – Again, I have two working eyes and don’t get sick. This isn’t a problem with the technology. Some people get airsick or carsick, but I don’t blame that on cars and airplanes.
    8. True, but unless you’re one of the very small percentage of people who want the ability to watch 3D in multiple rooms, who cares? If I’m one of them, I just keep this in mind when I buy my second or third 3D TV. At worst, this is a mild inconvenience.
    10 – There’s quite a bit out there now. I probably have 30 or so 3D titles on my shelf, and they’re all movies I actually enjoy. In 2010, people might have felt compelled to buy every 3D title out there just to have enough content to justify owning the 3D TV, but not in 2015.

    So, 3D has not gone the way of Betamax, but neither has it truly taken off. And, whatever. I enjoy it and think it adds to the experience of watching a “big” movie at home. Many others don’t. For them, 2D is still around and isn’t going anywhere. What I really want is to see something in 1D.

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