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U.S. Not OK With 3-D TV?

I’m covering the Consumer Electronics Show next month, and I imagine that, like last year, the square footage that isn’t covered by tablets and cell phones will be filled with 3-D TVs. The consumer electronics industry really, really needs you to lust after 3-D TV, because otherwise, they fear, you’ll stick with the same LCD or plasma set you bought a few years ago that’s HD but not 3-D.

And then comes this headline from GigaOM:

Home 3-D Is DOA: Majority of U.S. Won’t Buy a 3DTV

Uh oh.


It’s based on Nielsen data that shows less than a quarter of consumers worldwide are likely to buy a 3-D set, and, at least in America, the people who say they’re unlikely to buy one are apparently fervent in their opposition. Only 3% of Americans say they’re likely to buy one in the next year; only an additional 3% say they’ll ever buy one. And an earlier Nielsen study contained even worse news for the 3-D folks, finding that after people experience 3-D TV for themselves, they’re LESS likely to want a 3-D set.

That is not promising.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but my 3-D experiences have been pretty unimpressive. I’ve tried to watch 3-D TV, but it looks the way 3-D looked when I was a kid and they made you wear those blue and red cardboard “glasses”: flat figures in front of each other, with dim, indistinct colors and blurring. It’s a novelty for about a minute, then it’s annoying and I want to take off the glasses. I’m not an anti-3-D campaigner, just someone who doesn’t see the need to spend even a dime more for the experience. 2-D is good enough, even if blue creatures are zooming across the screen. And most of the movies and TV shows I watch don’t lend themselves to “improvement” via 3-D, even if the idea of what “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” or “Community” would do with 3-D might be amusing. Or disgusting. Likely both.

It’ll be interesting to see what the set manufacturers will be saying about studies like this at CES. What about you? Are you buying? Are you waiting until the price premium for 3-D is negligible? Do the glasses make a difference — are you going to wait until that magical day when the glasses are no longer necessary? Or are you going to hold out, period? There are a lot of people betting huge money that you’ll succumb. No wonder CES is in Vegas.

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13 comments

  • My biggest issue w/ 3-D TV is that all of the sets I’ve seen so far give me a massive headache. Even if I only watch for a few minutes in the store, I’m dying for a few hours after. My wife is the same way.

    The funny thing is, this doesn’t happen in the theater, for any of the 3-D techniques. I think it has something to do with how close I am to the screen, and my eyes having trouble focusing.

    I’ve talked to many people I know about this, and about 10-20% say they have the same reaction. Yet, everything I’ve read says that probably <1% of the general population suffers this side effect… so either that 1% is very understated, or I've got some freaky friends.

  • I’m with you Chris C. I watched one for a couple minutes in a Best Buy and my head was pounding. I imagine it would be even worse if I was trying to play a video game on one. Also, the 3-D TV’s are very expensive for what amounts to a gimmick.

  • I have no problem with going 3D, but not for too much more than a regular HD set would cost. 3D’s pretty much guaranteed to get better with time and familiarity, and saying 2D is fine sounds like my girlfriend saying watching SD is just fine, even when we have HD. Why not get the extras if you can, and there’s no drawback?

  • Also, I think you need to spend a few minutes to get your head acclimated to the 3D. It hurts my head at first, but after a few minutes it goes away. Any kind of glasses have that effect.

  • I’ve tried out some of the 3-d Tvs at best buy and really the picture kinda sucks. Even if it did get better you still have to wear the 3-D glasses. If I lose the remote every 5 minutes I’m sure I’m going to break or lose at least a pair of them.

  • As someone who’s always gotten queasy from 3d in the theater I decided to try a 3dtv on for size.
    …..Which made the problem even worse.
    I was queasy with a migraine for the rest of the day.

    It’s this reason I kind of hope it’s a fad and to not have everything be 3dtv 20 years down the line.

  • No glasses are the only way I see myself ever buying in. I agree that the experience today is less than impressive. Going to a 3D movie is fun. At home, not so much.