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3DTV market to soar as makers step up production

More movies, models and marketing in 2011

Sales of 3D television sets and handheld devices will surge this year after a weak start in 2010 as manufacturers step up production and marketing, an analyst said on Thursday.

LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba are working on televisions to replace today's sets that sell for about ~$1000 apiece, said Tim Renowned, media and broadcast technology analyst with the London-based industry research firm Ovum.

Prices and screen sizes will drop as those companies mass produce the television sets, Renowned said. Many 3D TV sets today are 46 inches wide, but 3D technology can now be installed on monitor-sized devices and even handhelds as long as the screens have a high enough refresh rate.

On the smaller side, Sharp has begun selling two 3D handsets in Japan, LG will introduce its Optimus 3D handset later this year and Nintendo has developed a handheld game console called the 3DS, Renowned said.

"Its the same basic technology that was launched last year, but they will make it cheaper," Renowned said. "It's going to be really strong growth, but coming off a low base."

Some upcoming 3D screens will not require 3D glasses, which cost about $100 per pair, he said.

Consumers should prepare for more dimensions of marketing to go along with the new merchandise, he said.

Also this year, online movie stores, smart TV sets and Internet-connected televisions will be able to get more 3D movies, the analyst said.

The first wave of buyers of this year's 3D television sets will be the "early adopter" group of men between ages 25 and 40, he said. Ovum has not forecast the number of 3D televisions sold this year.

Sony, for its part, expects that 3D television sets will make up 30 to 50 percent of its sales in the year starting next month. Toshiba has developed a 3D set that eliminates the use of glasses with a thin sheet of small lenses in front of the display.

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