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Active 3D vs Passive 3D

Which technology works best?

Which 3D TV technology will come out on top? We put three 3D sets side by side to see which 3D tech is the right choice.

On the Vizio, the gap between lines when viewed without glasses was more noticeable (again, probably due to the fact that it's a huge, 65in set), and the sharpness of the 3D effects wasn't as impressive as on the LG set. On the active-shutter Sharp set, everything looked a bit more 'soft'- not in a terrible way, but certainly lacking in sharpness and clarity when compared with the LG set.

My opinion was largely formed by the time we fired up Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but watching it simply affirmed what I was already thinking. On the LG set, in a scene where students pointed their fingers 'through the screen', I found it easy to focus on extreme foreground objects; it took a good second or two for my eyes to adjust to the same effect on the active-shutter Sharp set, and the foreground fingers weren't as crisp when I viewed the clip on the passive-glasses Vizio TV. In general, the layers of each 3D effect looked more clear and seamless on the LG set, noticeably less impressive on the Vizio set, and a wee bit hazy on the Sharp set.

According to my eyeballs, passive glasses were the way to go, but it totally depended on the set itself. It would be great to do the same test on a single set that supported both active- and passive-glasses viewing, just to see if there was a significant variation in the way 3D looked on the same TV with different display technologies. As it stands, because passive glasses have the whole cheaper-lighter-batteryless-syncless thing going for them, they have my vote.

The Verdict: Passive 3D Wins

Even though active-shutter glasses should produce a better image, both of us preferred the passive 3D glasses overall. However, we both found that the quality of the TV itself is just as important as the type of 3D-glasses tech the TV employs. While passive 3D tech is at a disadvantage for image quality, it can nonetheless create a better-looking overall image than an active-shutter 3D set that just doesn't get it quite right. Unless other active-shutter 3D TV manufacturers step up their game significantly in price and ease of use, we think passive 3D is the way to go.

  1. Which technology works best?
  2. Our test results
  3. Tim's take
  4. The verdict
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