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Is There Enough 3D Content to Justify Buying a 3D HDTV?

After buying a 3D HDTV, Chulbul complained to the HDTV & Home Theater forum about the lack of 3D content

After buying a 3D HDTV, Chulbul complained to the HDTV & Home Theater forum about the lack of 3D content.

It's difficult to say exactly how much 3D adds to the cost of a new HDTV. The number of variables would be too great. But I would guess that it would be in the neighborhood of $300 to $400.

Yet there doesn't seem to be all that much at this point that you can watch in 3D. But if you know where to look, the pickings aren't all that slim.

If you're a fan of recent Hollywood blockbusters, computer-animated features, or nature documentaries, you'll be as happy as a pig in popcorn. You'll find a wide selection of commercial 3D discs out there, and the number keeps growing. Among the movies scheduled to be commercially released on 3D Blu-ray discs before the end of the year are Avatar (up until now available only with a Panasonic purchase) and Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder.

Of course, you'll also have to invest in a 3D Blu-ray player.

Here the pickings are very slim. As I write this, DirectTV's 3D page lists only four channels. Comcast's page lists only two, plus some movies on demand.

Sports fans will be happy to know that both services count ESPN among their 3D stations. The recent Olympics were broadcast in 3D, but with a significant delay.

YouTube has a 3D channel that can make use of but doesn't require a 3D television. The display options include 2D and three types of anaglyph 3D (the kind the uses colored glasses). Vudu offers some pay-per-view glasses-required programming.

Of course, if your HDTV or Blu-ray player doesn't support one of these services, you'll have to hook a PC up to your TV to enjoy them.

On the other hand, your new television's Internet offerings may include 3D content. LG's current line of 3D HDTVs, including the recently-reviewed 55LM6700, offers an impressive collection of stereoscopic streams under the heading "3D World."

Most 3D HDTVs can convert 2D images to fake 3D on the fly, allowing you to watch everything stereoscopically. But I'll say right off that I'm not a fan of this type of conversion.

Part of my problem is philosophical. To me, the TV should adjust itself to the content, rather than adjusting the content to show off the TV's technology.

What's more, I've seen very little such conversion that was worth putting on the glasses. This fake 3D usually looks fake, and doesn't add anything to the experience.

I have no plans to dump my current HDTV for a new one, 3D or otherwise. But if I was in the market for a new HDTV, I would probably go with a 3D model.

Then I would stash away the glasses, and pull them out only when there was something I felt was worth watching in 3D. After all, I have a 5.1 surround sound system, but I frequently leave it off and simply listen through the TV's built-in speakers.

Read the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter, or subscribe to the Answer Line newsletter, e-mailed weekly.

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