You may have seen – or maybe will see – some headlines about soon-to-arrive 3D HDTVs for which you don't need 3D glasses.
To paraphrase Marisa Tomei's Mona Lisa Vito in the climactic courtroom scene in My Cousin Vinny, no, your reports are wraaaawng. And, yes, I'm sure.
Here's what happened.
As far as I can tell, it started with an article on a British tech site, Pocket-Lint, in which the author talked about Toshiba entering the passive 3D HDTV fray, also "confirming that [Toshiba] will launch a glasses-free 3D TV within the next 12 months."
Sorry, but these ridiculous stories about how glasses-free 3D TVs are just around the corner are the technology equivalent of sightings of Elvis, Sasquatch and budget compromise between House Tea Partiers and Senate Democrats.
A couple of things
First, the author does not say where this "confirmation" comes from.
Second, at the end of the story, the author admits (I've added my emphasis) "[l]ittle information is available on the glasses-free 3D panel, although 12- and 20-inch versions are already available in Japan. If Toshiba lives up to its promise then we can expect to see these in UK shops by April 2012…"
Little information? What promise? I smell over-anxious typing fingers.
If we're talking about 12-to-20 inch screens, we're not talking about real world TVs. We're talking about, maybe, PC displays or laptops. Which means it's no surprise that a day after this original story appeared, reports of a Toshiba laptop with a glasses-free 3D screen began to pop-up.
This makes a bit more sense. A little.
The truth about glasses-free 3D
As you no doubt know, Nintendo has released its 3DS portable gaming player with a glasses-free 3D screen. And at the CTIA wireless show last month, both Sprint and AT&T showed off Android smart phones with glasses-free 3D screens.
All these devices have relatively tiny screens, which minimizes the problems with current glasses-free 3D technology.
But stretching this glasses-free 3D technology out to a 42- or 50-inch TV is like – well, did you ever download a really low resolution photo or video and blow it up full screen? 'Nuff said.
But I'm not going to tread old ground here. Two months ago I explained why glasses-free 3D HDTV is total BS and was not going to happen anytime soon, so flip back to that and let's leave it at that.
Samsung cuts price of glasses
Since LG has been up in everyone's face with its Cinema 3D with glasses that don't need batteries (that's passive 3D, which I've explained here), the active shutter 3D people – the ones with glasses that do use batteries – have been under some pressure. Not only do active shutter 3D glasses use those annoying batteries, they're also 10 times the price of the passive specs.
And when you buy an active 3D HDTV, they throw in maybe one set of glasses for free, which is fine if you're a shut-in, but a lot of people live with, well, other people who also would like to wear 3D glasses when they watch 3D TV.
Samsung has finally realized the expensive 3D glasses equivalent of serving bad food for a lot of money was not going to win them any customers. So, not only is Samsung going to bundle a pair of glasses with each of its 3D HDTVs beginning on May 1, but they've slashed the price on extra glasses to less than $50 (which probably means $49.99, those tricky bastards) a pair. This means a family of four can get four pairs of 3D glasses for less than $100 (yes, probably $99.98 pre-tax), a price that usually doesn't even get you one pair from anyone else.
I'll hope everyone follows Samsung's lead, but I still say you should wait until a universal 3D glasses standard is established.