Digital Life: Will the 3D revolution be televised?
If you've been wondering what the hell happened to the 3D TV revolution we were promised, you're not alone. Launched in a wave of hype by all the big electronics giants at the beginning of the year, 3D TV hoped to tap into the growing popularity in cinemas of blockbusters such as Avatar.
But the TV industry forgot one thing: there's nothing to watch yet. Nine months into the "revolution", you can count on two hands the number of 3D movies released on disc. The industry also managed to miss an open goal by failing to broadcast the World Cup to homes in 3D, even though the cameras captured it in the third dimension.
So bungling doesn't even begin to describe the birth of 3D in the home.
But if 2010 will go down as a missed opportunity, there are signs 2011 could be better for 3D as content becomes easier to find. Last week, Sony delivered a free software update for the PlayStation 3 that enables the games console to play movies in 3D. Next month, Sky starts its 3D channel, which will show a limited range of movies, sport and entertainment, including the Ryder Cup.
To get on board the 3D train the biggest expense is that spanking-new telly, and the cost of a decent-sized 3D set still hovers north of €2,000. If you don't have a PS3 or Sky, also factor in the cost of a new 3D Blu-ray player.
The one consolation of becoming an early adopter/ sucker in the brave new 3D world is that you are invariably acquiring a top-notch goggle box for regular 2D viewing.
Take Sony's new Bravia LX903, for example. The 40-inch version will set you back €2,500 so it had better be a bit special.
The ace picture quality is certainly its star attraction but a long list of features, such as nifty internet connectivity, pumps up the value.
Like all 3D sets, though, it struggles to overcome the inherent problems of the format.
Yes, you must wear those daft electronic glasses (of which you get only two pairs with the set -- extras cost €120 each). Yes, it gets tiring on the eyes after a while. Yes, you will probably conclude 3D is a bit gimmicky.
Interestingly, Sony bundles a few free PS3 games with every 3D Bravia and these convincingly map a possible path to 3D's redemption. It simply makes more sense for video games than for movies in general.
With big titles such as Gran Turismo 5 and Killzone 3 on the way in 3D, maybe the revolution will be televised after all.