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Is 3D TV Doomed?

Whether it's the goofy glasses or the cost of a new HDTV, 3D on TV seems to be sputtering.

Consumer response to 3D TVs has been tepid thus far, and industry observers point to a number of likely explanations, including the dearth of 3D programming and an aversion to those clunky 3D glasses. And for those of us who don't mind wearing 3D specs, there's also the question of which technology to buy into: Passive or active-shutter?

Nobody likes doing homework, and the lack of a one-size-fits-all standard is no doubt hurting 3D TV sales.

But the questions remain: Are consumers interested in 3D TV, but waiting on the sidelines until standards emerge and more 3D channels arrive?

Or...do they simply not care?

3D TV a Bust?

The latter may be true, according to a recent New York Post article that quotes several TV pundits and industry insiders, few of whom are optimistic about 3D TV's future, at least in the near term

Advertising on ESPN's 3D sport channel has been weak, so much so that ESPN has considered pulling the plug on the project, tech analyst Phillip Swann tells The Post.

HDNet boss Mark Cuban, who also owns the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise, isn't bullish on 3D broadcasting, particularly for television sports. "3-D on TV is a bust," he says.

Cuban, who never minces words, has questioned 3D TV's future before. In a February 2011 post on his personal blog, he wrote: "The future of 3D is not sports. A bunch of guys are not going to spend a lot of money on glasses to look goofy sitting next to each other."

Consumers Yawn

The TV industry may be pitching 3D as latest and greatest innovation since living color, but the message doesn't seem to be resonating with American consumers, many of whom have already purchased one or more HDTVs and aren't in the market for another, at least not right away.

IHS iSuppli analyst Riddhi Patel says that only 13 percent of U.S. households plan to purchase a new TV in the next 12 months, The Post reports. And with the economy sputtering along, fewer consumers are willing to splurge on a 3D TV, particularly when the benefits appear negligible.

Since TV manufacturers are adding 3D to their high-end models, there's a good chance that many of us will buy a 3D TV, but never use its 3D features.

What do you think? Do you want 3D TV? Are the glasses a deal-breaker? And would you buy one that doesn't require glasses, such as the super-expensive Toshiba ZL2, which will cost nearly 8,000 Euros--or roughly $11,400--when it debuts in Germany in December?

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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