3D TV has all the bells and whistles; is it catching on?

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - As you know, WIS News 10 is coming to you in high definition. But will there ever be a day when you see your news in 3D?

At the moment, it doesn't seem likely. But 3D programming and TV sets that link to the Internet are getting more popular every day.

TV in 3D might be one of the latest trends to hit home entertainment. But the idea behind all this sleek new hardware goes back generations. Before the Civil War, people used stereoscopes to view 3D images. A century later, Hollywood joined in. "It makes the screen absolutely real and alive," said Daryl Ellerby of Best Buy, "People, objects, landscapes take on a depth and a dimension, such as they have in real life. And it has an added quality. Objects actually seem to come out of the screen. So real, they almost touch you."

That claim might have been debatable even in the 50's, but not today. "I would say it is pretty good quality," said Ellerby, "There are some movies right now where the 3D doesn't go inside of the TV and some of it will actually come out towards you, which kind of gives you that wild effect that most people are looking for with the 3D televisions."

There is one problem that manufacturers have yet to iron out. Almost every system on the market still requires you to use a special pair of glasses, and even the best glasses still make you look like you're a little crazy.

Ellerby said prices on 3D sets continue to drop, and it's now possible to pick up a TV, the glasses, a 3D Blu-Ray player and extras for as little as $1,800. He said you don't have to deal with 3D and the glasses if you're not in the mood. "If you want to watch 3D then yes, you would have to have the glasses on," said Ellerby, "But the TV doesn't have to be in 3D mode all the time if you just want to watch regular content."

Are consumers buying in? Joe Azar of Upstairs Audio isn't so sure. "It seems like early adopters pay a higher price for a product that doesn't work as well," he said.

Azar's Upstairs Audio shop been selling high end home entertainment gear since 1972. "There hasn't been a great embrace of this though, I'll say that," he stated, "Not right now. People keep thinking there's going to be a 3D TV that you don't need glasses. And there have been some out. The problem again is you've got to sit right in one spot. You can't walk around. It has to focus on one spot."

Azar and others, including doctors and film critic Roger Ebert, point out that 3D viewing can give some people headaches, nausea, cramps, convulsions and could be especially dangerous for pregnant women and people with epilepsy.

Meanwhile, Azar said consumers and manufacturers seem more interested in "smart" TV's that are capable of accessing the Internet. "You now can have TV's that have browsers in them that will pull up Netflix, pull up YouTube, pull up Facebook," said Azar, "All these different things. It's not a full-blown browser that I can type something in and just catch anything. There's specific addresses that they go to. But that's the trend now."

Consumer electronics industry experts agree that Internet-enabled TV will get even bigger. One out of five sets sold last year offered Internet connectivity. Research said in three years, roughly 70% of TV's sold will be net-capable.

It's a new dimension of domestic entertainment that might be here to stay.

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