CES 2011: 3Takes on 3DTV

CES 2011 Day -1: No, the show doesn’t open until tomorrow, but I arrived in Las Vegas yesterday because it starts two days early for the press. So I had a bunch of events to deal with yesterday. There are a lot of interesting themes emerging already, but I was particularly interested by three different views on 3DTVs that I encountered at last night’s events.

First, I got my first look at the new Vizio 65″ LCD 3DTV that uses passive glasses instead of active ones. I have not yet spoken with the folks from Vizio, but the set looked very good to me. I think that with its low price, it stands to be a real game changer. It uses a panel from LG Electronics, so I expect that we’ll see a similar set from them before long.

I also came across a new DLP rear-projection 3DTV from Mitsubishi. It was hard to miss; it has a 92″ diagonal screen. That’s the equivalent of four 46″ sets tiled together. It’s really big. It relies on active glasses, and the image looked good.

Then I went to a Toshiba press event, and discovered that they intend to sell three different types of 3DTVs: active glasses, passive glasses, and no glasses. I know that people are anxious to get a no-glasses solution (see my Monday comments), so I’ll focus on that. The company had two autostereoscopic screens on display at the event. The Toshiba representatives were very clear that these were simply engineering prototypes and that they did not have any information about when they might become commercial products. One was a notebook computer with a head-tracking feature so that you could see 3D without having to keep your head in one spot. As I’ve been saying, this is fine for a single-viewer application, but won’t play in the living room. The other was an LCD HDTV that only had three “sweet spots”, and all three were close together directly in front of the screen. The resolution looked great, because the screen had 4K resolution (about twice a regular 1080p set) to make up for the resolution lost to the autostereoscopic feature. It looked okay, but you really had to be in just the right spot or else the 3D effect would not work correctly.

From all this, my take-away so far is that 3DTV continues to be an important topic, that passive glasses solutions are likely to gain market share rapidly, and that we’re no closer to a multi-viewer autostereoscopic solution.

Tomorrow, I’ll have some highlights from the Press Day press conferences, and on Friday, I’ll report on the first day of the actual show. Stay tuned….