Archives: Buying 3D TV - Advantages and Disadvantages

Originally published in September 2010
Simon Nguyen

Technology is about progression, and television technology is no exception. It all started with the analog TV, followed by digital and high definition TVs. Naturally, 3D TV is the next stage in the progression. Top brands like Panasonic, LG, Samsung, Sony, and Philips have already announced their full support for the technology, with 3D TV sets widely available for purchase beginning this Christmas season. However, 3D technology is not without shortcomings. Before buying a 3D TV, it is critical that we understand its advantages and disadvantages.

3D TV is likely the most important breakthrough in television technology since the invention of digital TV (DTV). What makes the new tube so unique is the fact that it is an innovation rather than an elaborate upgrade. The reason why most consumers have not been as receptive to similar technologies like HDTV and plasma is because they are viewed as fancy improvements, rather than a new viewing experience. 3D TV, with the ability to deliver three-dimensional realism to TV viewing, is the novel experience consumers are looking for. The technology will certainly replace DTV in 2-3 years time.

One of the disadvantages of 3D TVs is the fact that the viewers have to wear specially designed glasses, while watching 3D programs, for the effect to work. This could be a huge problem if the viewer wants to watch TV for an extended length of time. Imagine having to wear bulky and uncomfortable eyewear for hours. Since TV viewing is the ultimate leisure activity, this unwelcome chore will definitely be a big annoyance. Fortunately, many companies are working on technologies that would allow viewers to watch 3D contents without a need for 3D glasses. However, the new feature won’t be immediately available, and most current models of 3D TV do not support it.

Another big disadvantage is the lack of 3D contents available for viewing. While there is a steady stream of 3D movies being released, most of the new movies are still in standard format. Support for 3D programs on TV is even more scant. While there are a couple of 3D channels available, actual 3D programs are far and few between. Even if there is increased demand for 3D contents, it is unlikely that we will see more support for them in the near future. HDTV, for example, has been on the market for quite some time now; yet, support for HD contents is still very limited. Obviously, one can still watch standard programs with 3D TVs but that would cancel any reason to buy this new technology in the first place.

There are also health issues, associated with watching 3D contents. Some viewers of 3D contents have experienced symptoms such as serious eye strains, dizziness, and nausea. These possible health risks are acknowledged by major manufacturers of 3D TVs. Some brands like Samsung have pledged to include warning labels that inform consumers of these risks. As a general rule, 3D TV is not a good choice for people who have serious health issues.

Is 3D TV a good buy at this time? The old expression, “Patience is a virtue,” seems to be most appropriate for this question. As of 2010, the technology is still in its infancy. There are a lot about 3D TVs (in addition to what have been discussed) we have not yet known. Unless you have money to spend and want to possess the most cutting-edge TV on the market, it is more practical to wait until 3D TV has reached market saturation or until the technology is more understood before buying it.

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