Shortly before Christmas, when Sunny and I were heading home with our new HDTV in the back of the car, I remember turning to Sunny and saying: "I wonder what the next big thing's going to be."
With TV's we went from black and white to color. Then, when color was affordable and everyone had a color TV, flat-screen TV's came out. We went from flat-screen to big-screen, from big-screen to thin LCD displays…and finally to HD displays.
I was wondering where we'd go next. One you have a big screen with a really high resolution color display…what is next?
My money was on 3D, and it turned out I was right.
I just wasn't expecting it to be such a massive rip-off.
You see, I was expecting the new 3D TV's to have some brand new cutting edge technology to justify their price. I remember a couple of years ago reading about a prototype display that produced a 3D image by covering the screen with millions of tiny, precision oriented lenses which meant that, without any glasses, the display projected a different image to your left and right eye.
Instead, after doing a little research, it turns out that the 'new' 3D TVs are using the same shutter-glasses technology that's been around since 1995.
I have a shutter-glasses set up on my PC…and it cost me sixty dollars.
The way shutter glasses work is the display rapidly switches between the left eye and right eye viewpoint, and you glasses cover your left and right eye in time to the display. As such, your left eye only sees the left eye image and vice versa.
Now, this can work with any display, all you really need is something to allow the display and the shutter glasses to talk to each other to keep them synchronized. The actual TV doesn't have to be any different to a normal TV, and as I mentioned above, you can buy a pair of shutter glasses for your PC for sixty bucks.
So can someone please explain to me why this 'new generation' of 3DTV, that's using fifteen year old technology, can cost nearly ten thousand dollars for the TV and around 200 for a pair of shutter glasses?
Well, I suppose the answer's self explanatory: Precedent.
The first generation of plasma TVs cost about ten thousand, the first generation of HD displays cost the same thing…and right now there are legions of early adopters heading to best buy to put down ten grand on the latest and greatest TV technology.
Just because the tecnology's been around for fifteen years, and you could get exactly the same effect with sixty dollars of technology (my setup is a tiny box that you connect between the PC and the monitor that the glasses plug into…there's no reason why you couldn't do this on any TV)…doesn't mean there aren't a ton of people willing to spend ten grand to be the 'first'.