Toshiba's 55-inch glasses-free 3D TV is graduating from a trade show parlor trick to a genuine product -- but it'll cost a pretty penny.
At 55 inches, the Toshiba ZL2 is the first large-screen 3D TV that doesn't require you to wear special glasses. Like most other glasses-free displays, Toshiba's version directs a separate image into each eye using "lenticular lenslets" on the screen.
To accommodate multiple viewers, Toshiba uses head-tracking to determine where the lenslets will point. The company claims that up to nine people can watch 3D TV simultaneously this way.
The ZL2 offers some other perks, including 3840 by 2160 pixel resolution, 2D-to-3D conversion, built-in Wi-Fi and YouTube.
Now for the bad news: The Toshiba ZL2 will cost 7,999 Euros, or roughly $11,400, when it launches in Germany this December (no word on U.S. pricing or a release date), Engadget reports. That's more than five times the cost of some high-end 3D TV sets that use glasses.
Also, it's worth noting that Toshiba isn't saying how wide of a viewing angle you'll get with its glasses-free TV. None of the eyes-on reports I'm reading out of the IFA show in Berlin discuss this issue either. When I checked out Toshiba's prototype glasses-free 3D TV at CES in January, I wasn't able to stand more than few feet off center. I can't imagine viewing angles have improved dramatically since then.
For those reasons, I think glasses-free TV is still a few years away from going mainstream. But it's a sign that we're getting there when TV makers move beyond trade shows and start releasing actual products.