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How it works: 3D HDTV

Whether you love it or hate it, get ready for 3D HDTV

3D HDTV looks set to be the next big thing in the consumer market. Here's our guide to what you need to know to enhance your viewing pleasure.

3D glasses compared

A better result can be achieved by using polarised images and glasses to simulate a field of depth. Polarised 3D takes more or less the same approach as anaglyphs by superimposing two images on the screen that are then filtered by glasses that deliver separate images to your eyes.

But instead of filtering based on colour, polarised 3D glasses restrict polarised light. Colour integrity is more or less maintained using this method, and polarised 3D is the standard currently used for IMAX 3D films.

Another form of 3D tech that uses glasses is shutter technology.Whereas anaglyphs and polarised 3D filter out unwanted images, shutter glasses physically block the image from reaching your eyes.

Shutter glasses - as the name suggests - have shutters in both lenses that alternate at a very fast rate and completely block one eye at a time from viewing the screen.

The glasses are in sync with an IR transmitter that tells the glasses which eye to block out according to the 3D image being displayed.

The main thing that sets shutter glasses apart is that they are not a passive technology. Shutter glasses need a power source to mechanically alternate the shutters and to receive the IR signal.

According to Gizmodo, these glasses may start at £43 a pair, so it may become quite the investment for a larger family. Shutter glasses also require a display with a high refresh rate.

There has been some questions over whether 240Hz HDTVs make any considerable image improvement over 120Hz sets, but there's no doubt that such technology will be needed for a smooth 3D shutter glasses experience.

The lower the refresh rate, the higher the chance that your eyes will be able to catch frame transition occurring on the screen and on the glasses.

Judging from January's CES showing, HDTV manufacturers are currently betting on shutter glasses technology for the first wave of consumer 3D TVs.

Panasonic's top-of-the-line Viera plasmas will be jumping on the 3D train in the middle of this year and will ship with one set of active shutter glasses made by Real D.

On the LCD side, Sony will be shipping its top model HDTVs with active shutter technology and a pair of Real D glasses.

With 3D content support from Blu-Ray, and some TV channels, there should be plenty of in your-face broadcasting to justify the purchase of these new TVs.

But we still have to wait and see if the in-home experience is worth the hassle of having to buy extra glasses, keeping them powered up, and popping the occasional aspirin.

NEXT PAGE: 3D without glasses

  1. Whether you love it or hate it, get ready for 3D HDTV
  2. 3D glasses compared
  3. 3D without glasses
  4. Your mileage may vary

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