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3D TVs with new technology put to the test

July 3, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Are 3D TVs here to stay or will they go the way of the eight-Track cassette?

Consumer Reports tested nearly every 3D television on the market including one of the newest from Vizio that uses lighter, less-expensive glasses that could make it far more appealing to consumers.

The newest 3D TVs, including the LCD model from Vizio, use what's called "passive" technology. The big advantage rests in the 3D glasses. They're lighter, more comfortable and much less expensive. However, Consumer Reports found some drawbacks with the new technology.

"In the 3D mode, passive TVs can only show half the vertical resolution of a standard 1080p TV. Because there are fewer pixels creating the image, our testers saw jagged lines where there should be smooth ones," said Jim Wilcox with Consumer Reports.

In contrast, on a different 3D set, the lines show up smooth when looking through the glasses. Another issue with the Vizio is that interference creates a shimmery effect in certain scenes.

But overall, testers were fairly impressed with the Vizio's performance. It's the brightest 3D set they've ever seen and has minimal ghosting, so you won't see double images through the glasses.

"And the ability to wear lightweight, inexpensive glasses is sure to be a plus for a lot of families," said Wilcox.

When it comes to active 3D sets that use more expensive, bulkier glasses, testers found big differences between plasmas and LCDs. To evaluate them, engineers created 3D patterns and viewed the patterns through glasses.

"In general, our testers have found that plasma 3D TVs provide the best overall 3D picture quality, primarily because they have less ghosting," explained Wilcox.

In the end, Consumer Reports gave a top rating to the Panasonic Viera for $4,300. It delivers a crisp 3D image, but you have to pay for extra glasses which amounts to $150 a pair.

More comfortable and cheaper 3D glasses are a step in the right direction, but will there ever be 3D TVs that don't require glasses at all? Such a model was demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics show earlier this year, but unfortunately glasses-free 3D is still a few years away.

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