Cheaper glasses for 3D TV
Las Vegas - TV makers believe they could blame disappointing sales of 3D TVs in 2010 partly on the bulky glasses they came with. They're trying to tackle that this year by introducing sets that work with lighter, cheaper glasses of the kind used in theatres.
Manufacturers don't plan to completely supplant 3D TVs with the heavier, battery-powered glasses that went on sale last year for the first time. But the introduction of a competing technology a year later is a sign that the first 3D TVs didn't live up to expectations.
LG Electronics Inc announced on Wednesday that it is introducing two sets, a 119cm and a 165cm one, later this year that use so-called "passive" glasses. Each will include four pairs. Current 3D sets usually include one or two pairs of "active" glasses, but some don't include any, and each pair costs about $100.
LG, a South Korean company, is the first major TV maker to announce new products on Wednesday, a day ahead of the opening of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Vizio Inc, one of the largest sellers of TVs in the US but not a leader in the high end of the market, which includes 3D sets, announced in December that it would sell a 165cm 3D set with passive glasses.
The "active" glasses are not just bulky but heavy, and they require periodic charging. They darken the image and make it flicker.
The "passive" glasses don't flicker, and as a bonus, glasses from any manufacturer will work with sets from another manufacturer, or in the theatre. They darken the image, but not as much as the "active" glasses. However, in LG's implementation, the "passive" glasses cut the resolution of the image in half.
"We're meeting consumers' needs by eliminating some of the pain points" with 3D sets, said Tim Alessi, director of new product development at LG Electronics USA. "It's going to be the most comfortable viewing experience, just like going to the movies."
Samsung Electronics Co estimates all manufacturers combined sold one million 3D sets in the US in 2010, far short of its initial estimate of three to four million.