Should I buy a 3D TV?

We talk you through the ins and outs of 3D plasma and 3D LED televisions: How they work, how much they cost and what they're good for

Samsung's Series 7 LED model is the first 3D-capable television available.

Samsung's Series 7 LED model is the first 3D-capable television available.

3D television is the Next Big Thing — at least if you believe television manufacturers like Samsung, Sony and Panasonic, which are bringing a range of 3D TVs to market in coming months. Not all 3D televisions are equal though, with manufacturers releasing both plasma and LED 3D TVs. Then there's the matter of the active shutter 3D glasses, 3D Blu-ray player and 3D Blu-ray discs required to round out the whole package. We've put together an overview of the current state of 3D technology, to help you decide whether it's time to upgrade from your 2D TV.

If you're picking out a new television and want to work out what's best for you, read through our LCD vs LED vs plasma TV buying guide.

Confused about the difference between HDMI and DVI, component and composite? Our giant cable buying guide will set you straight.

3D televisions

Sony, Panasonic and Samsung have held launches for their 2010 television line-ups. We've already spent some time with Sony's 3D LED television and Panasonic's 3D plasma panel.

Regardless of whether a 3D TV uses an LED-backlit LCD or a plasma panel, it must be able to display video at a high frame rate. Samsung and Sony's 3D televisions use either a 200Hz or 400Hz frame interpolation mode, while Panasonic's plasmas have a higher 600Hz refresh rate due to the characteristics of plasma TVs. This high frame rate is important because 3D video footage is made up of two separate 2D video streams shifted slightly from each other when displayed on-screen.

The only special feature that 3D televisions have that's not available in normal televisions is the ability to display video content at an extremely high frame rate. The television decodes the specialised video stream from a 3D Blu-ray disc and displays each frame in synchronisation with its bundled pair of "active shutter" 3D glasses.

3D televisions are also able to display regular video just like 'normal' plasma, LCD and LED screens. They're actually even better at it than most TVs — all the tricky modern circuitry and high frame rate display abilities mean they're able to display video smoothly and without flickering.

So far, 3D televisions are looking surprisingly cheap. Sony hasn't announced pricing for its HX900, HX800 and LX900 LED televisions but Samsung's 3D LED television, the 40in UA40C7000, is only $2899. The 50in PS50C7000 is even cheaper at $2499 (and it's a bigger screen)! Panasonic's 50in VIERA TH-P50VT20A plasma will cost $3299 when it hits store shelves in June.

3D glasses

If you watch 3D video without a television's bundled active shutter glasses on, you'll only see a blurry and indistinct mess. What 3D glasses do is to block the vision from each of your eyes when alternating frames are shown on the television — when the 3D television displays a frame that's intended for your right eye, the 'active shutter' in the lens of the 3D glasses will close and block the vision from your left eye.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags sonyblu-raysamsungPanasonic3d TV

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Campbell Simpson

Campbell Simpson

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Ada Chan

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

I highly recommend the Dynabook Portégé® X30L-G notebook for everyday business use, it is a benchmark setting notebook of its generation in the lightweight category.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?