Just five short years ago Sony and Panasonic brought 3D televisions to market with a gaggle of other manufacturers in hot pursuit of a similar multi-dimensional aspiration. It may be hard to remember, but the technology was billed as the next great leap in television. In fact, some suggested that the revolutionary realism delivered by 3D would be comparable to the jump from black-and-white to color screens.
Yup, 3D was billed to be bigger than big.
In retrospect, the technology was only slightly more than geeked-up sales fodder. This isn’t to say that 3D hasn’t had its moments and doesn’t have its fans; it has and does. But its overall success has fallen well short of self-promoting industry predictions.
3D’s primary Achilles heel is the necessity for viewers to wear glasses, which (depending on the type of glasses) can be expensive for manufactures to implement. There are also side issues such as diminished display light output, ghosting, viewing annoyances (e.g., headaches), and a complete lack of live television content (which largely disappeared in 2013). Of course 3D Blu-ray content is still readily available and commercial cinemas are still showing movies in the format. However, don’t be fooled by the continued existence of commercial and disc-bound 3D media. According the Motion Picture Association of America, 3D ticket sales only accounted for 14-percent of box office sales in the United States and Canada during 2014; 3D Blu-ray sales aren’t too much different (they vary by title, but certainly reflect a general preference for non-3D discs).
This brings us to recent exclusive news from a Korean IT news organization called etnews. According to this source, both Samsung and LG Electronics are actively “greatly reducing the number of TVs that will have 3D function.” In other words, 3D televisions appear to be entering their final cycle. Samsung is said to be completely abandoning 3D on new products (for the time being) and LG is reporting plans to cut 3D television production in half. Etnews supports its Samsung claim with industry insider information from a parts supplier, confirming that Samsung has not requested a further supply of 3D glasses this year. The news site says LG may reserve 3D functionality for only its most expensive models.
The arrival of 4K UHD paired with High Dynamic Range and Wide Color Gamut has hurt the viability of 3D in the consumer setting, crushing what little momentum the technology had reserved for future sales. Let’s face it, both UHD and HDR offer significantly more intriguing levels of visual impact without the need for wearable equipment. There has also been fast growth in consumer Virtual Reality technology that may further reduce the demand for 3D content on a television.
Perhaps 3D televisions will re-emerge under different circumstances, which is certainly foreseeable if manufacturers find a way to create a three dimensional feel without the need for glasses. If this happens, we’ll likely see it marketed once the sales allure of 4K and HDR has run its course.
Image Credit: Amazon/Samsung
Source Credit: etnews, MPAA, Home Media Magazine