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Which 3-D technologies are worth price tag?

August 31, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
3-D is spreading like wildfire. There are TVs, of course, but now laptops, cameras and digital frames are getting in on the action, but how good is the quality?Consumer Reports tested various products to find out which ones are cutting edge and which ones just don't cut it.

Watching 3-D TV isn't just about sports or movies. More and more 3-D video games are coming out. At Consumer Reports' labs, the games are creating quite a buzz.

Video games are just one of many 3-D products now on the market. There are also 3-D laptops. However, Consumer Reports' tests on an Acer laptop show the 3-D effects aren't very exciting and the viewing angle is very limited.

However, Consumer Reports' Terry Sullivan said a 3-D point-and-shoot camera is more promising. The Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W1 camera is pricy at $600, but it shoots 3-D photos and videos.

"It's really cool that you can watch 3-D video on this camera without needing to wear special glasses, but you have to shoot it horizontally, not vertically," explained Sullivan.

However, take a pass on the camera's $500 3-D digital frame. Tester Rich Fisco saw double images and experienced eyestrain.

What about those latest 3-D TVs being tested at Consumer Reports? They include a 63-inch plasma from Samsung and a 40-inch Sony LCD. Testers are still finding big differences in performance.

"So far, we're finding that plasma is a better technology for 3-D, and when it comes to screen size, bigger is definitely better for 3-D's immersive experience with movies and video games," said tester Jill Willcox.

Consumer Reports advices that if you're looking to buy a high-end TV right now, go ahead and get one that is 3-D. Top rated ones are the Panasonic VT-20 and VT-25 series, which start at about $2,500.

However, there are other expenses like additional glasses, which cost more than $100 a pair. Also, you'll need a 3-D Blu-ray player for movies. Those run $200 to $400.