3D Hardware and Software – What’s Out There?

CHF Staff

Hardware: 3D TVs and 3D Blu-ray players

If you’re in the market for a flat panel TV, you’re probably asking yourself – should I buy a standard 2D set or one of the fancy new 3D sets? My advice is that you should definitely consider a 3D set, especially if picture quality is of importance to you. That’s because most TV manufacturers are implementing the 3D functionality into their best performing sets. So in most cases the TVs that deliver the best 2D picture quality from a particular manufacturer’s line-up, already have the 3D functionality built-in.

Like regular 2D flat-panel TVs, 3D TVs are available in a choice of plasma or LCD. LCD sets can be further broken down into sets that have a CCFL backlight or the much more desirable LED backlight. Many TV manufacturers are now using the term “LED TV” to market some of their TVs. But don’t be fooled – an “LED TV” is simply an LCD TV which has an LED backlight.

I’ve watched and tested a number of 3D TVs during the last few months and can say without doubt that plasma TVs are capable of producing a much higher quality 3D picture than any of the LCD models that I’ve seen so far. The most noticeable shortcoming of the 3D picture on LCD sets that I’ve seen is image crosstalk (a double image). Most 3D plasma TVs on the other hand are capable of minimizing or nearly completely eliminating image crosstalk thanks to the fact that their pixels display and decay very quickly. To read reviews of all the 3D TVs we’ve tested to date, please visit the “Gear Reviews” section on www.canadahifi.com/.

To assist you with the research fo a new TV, we’ve compiled a complete list of all the 3D TVs and 3D Blu-ray players available now and coming soon, which you’ll find on the next page. Some manufacturers supply one pair of 3D glasses with the 3D TVs, while others require you to purchase them separately. The cost for a pair of 3D glasses ranges somewhere between $150 and $200. An up to the minute version of this list can be found on the CANADA HiFi forum (www.canadahifi.com//forum) in the “3D Television Sets (LCD & Plasma)” section.

And despite what you may think, buying a 3D TV doesn’t mean that you’ll have to remortgage your house. Most 3D TVs cost the same or less than similarly performing 2D TVs from last year. Whether 3D TV will be accepted by the masses remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure – you can’t go wrong with a TV that is future proof.

3D TV and 3D Blu-ray Player Manufacturers

Samsung 3D TVs

Plasma 8000 Series
PN58C8000 58-inch – $3599.99
PN50C8000 50-inch (CANADA HiFi’s 3D reference TV) – $2699.99

Plasma 7000 Series
PN63C7000 63-inch – $4099.99
PN50C7000 50-inch – $2399.99

Plasma 680 Series
PN58C680 58-inch – $3099.99
PN50C680 50-inch – $2099.99

Plasma 490 Series
PN50C490 50-inch – $1599.99

LED (LCD) 8000 Series
UN65C8000 – $5999.99

LED (LCD) 7000 Series
UN55C7000 55-inch – $3699.99
UN46C7000 46-inch – $2899.99
UN40C7000 40-inch – $2499.99

Samsung 3D Blu-ray players

BD-C6900 (CANADA HiFi’s reference 3D Blu-ray player) – $399.99
BD-C5900 – $269.99

Panasonic 3D Plasma TVs

Plasma VT Series
TC-P65VT25 65-inch – $4999.99
TC-P58VT25 58-inch – $3999.99
TC-P54VT25 54-inch – $3499.99
TC-P50VT25 50-inch – $2999.99

Plasma GT Series
TC-P50GT25 50-inch – $2499.99
TC-P42GT25 42-inch – $1999.99

Panasonic 3D Blu-ray players

DMP-BDT350 – $599.99
DMP-BDT100 – $299.99

Sony 3D LCD TVs (LED backlit)

BRAVIA LX900 Series
XBR60LX900 60-inch – $5,499.99
XBR52LX900 52-inch – $4,499.99
XBR46LX900 46-inch – $3,999.99
XBR40LX900 40-inch – $3,199.99

BRAVIA HX909 Series
XBR52HX909 52-inch – $4,299.99
XBR46HX909 46-inch – $3,699.99

BRAVIA HX800 Series
KDL55HX800 55-inch – $3,799.99
KDL46HX800 46-inch – $2,999.99
KDL40HX800 40-inch – $2,599.99

BRAVIA NX810 Series
KDL-60NX810 60-inch – $4,999.99
KDL-55NX810 55-inch – $3,999.99
KDL-46NX810 46-inch – $3,299.99

BRAVIA NX710 Series
KDL-46NX710 46-inch – $2,999.99
KDL-40NX710 40-inch – $2,599.99

Sony 3D Blu-ray players

BDPS770 – $249.99
BDPS570 – $349.99
BDPS470 – $299.99
PlayStation 3 – $299.99 and up

LG Electronics

LX6500 LCD Series
55LX6500 55-inch $3,699
47LX6500 47-inch $2,899
42LX6500 42-inch $2,499

LX9500 LCD Series
55LX9500 55-inch $4,499
47LX9500 47-inch $3,599

Infinia PX950 Plasma Series
60PX950 60-inch $3699
50PX950 50-inch $2699

LG 3D Blu-ray players

BX580 $349.99

Sharp Electronics

AQUOS LE925 series (LCD)
LC-60LE925UN 60-inch $4,999
LC-52LE925UN 52-inch $3,999

Sharp 3D Blu-ray players

BDHP80U $399

Software: 3D Blu-ray Titles and 3D Games

Of course in order to watch a 3D picture on your shiny new TV, you’ll need some 3D content, currently available in the form of 3D Blu-ray titles and PlayStation 3 games. From time to time, special events are broadcasted in 3D by digital cable and satellite providers.

Most 3D Blu-ray titles available today offer a full 1080p resolution to each eye and hence the picture looks just as sharp and contains just as many details as we’ve come to expect from standard Blu-ray releases. From what we’ve seen so far, the quality of the 3D on Blu-ray discs can be as good, if not better, then the 3D that we’re used to at the movie theatre.

Regrettably the roll out of 3D Blu-ray titles hasn’t been very smooth and although several movies are now available, most are offered as exclusives to owners of one particular TV brand. Therefore no matter which 3D TV brand you go with right now, you’ll have less than a handful of movies to choose from. Eventually all of these exclusives will be available for purchase to everyone but likely not for another few months. On the positive side, a decent number of new 3D titles will be available before the end of this year, the most anticipated of these being Avatar. Avatar will initially be available in early December exclusively to Panasonic 3D TV owners, with the general release available to all other 3D TV owners in the first quarter of 2011.

And then there is the PlayStation 3 which continues to astonish us with its capabilities. Following a couple of firmware updates earlier this year, the PS3 is now able to play 3D games and 3D Blu-ray discs. This past summer Sony released three small 3D game titles (StarDust HD, Wip3out, a 3D update for Pain) and a demo of one track from MotorStorm: Pacific Rift. Later in the summer a full version of MotorStorm 3D Rift was also released. All these games can now be downloaded from the PlayStation Network. I played every one of them and must say that I’m very impressed with how the 3D picture elevates the video gaming experience. Those keeping track, should however know that all PS3 are planned to be released in 720p only (i.e. delivering 720p to each eye) in order to allow enough processing overhead for a smooth 60 fps frame rate. Can you smell a new PlayStation?

Since then Sony has announced that it will bring a number of full-blown 3D games to the market including Gran Turismo 5, Killzone 3, Mortal Kombat, Crysis 2, Tron, Shaun White, MotorStorm: Apocalypse, NBA 2K11 and Ghost Recon. Most of these titles should be available by the end of the year. And what a thrilling list this is! Will most major new titles be released in 3D?

Last but not least, a number of TV content providers began introducing 3D channels. In the US, Direct TV leads the pack with four 3D channels which include ESPN 3D, DIRECTV Cinema, DIRECTV on Demand and n3D. Discovery Channel has announced that in 2011, the company will introduce a 24-hour 3D channel as well. So far in Canada, we have only been teased with parts of a couple of sporting events which were broadcasted in 3D through select TV service providers. The events included the 2010 Masters Golf Tournament and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. A couple of Canada providers now have 3D sample channels which run a loop of 3D movie previews. However, it’s safe to say that it’s only a matter of time before Canadian TV service providers begin adding 3D channels to their channel lineups.
Check out the sidebar for a complete list of 3D Blu-ray movies and 3D PS3 games which are currently available now and some which will be released later this year.

3D Blu-ray Titles and 3D PlayStation 3 Games

3D Blu-rays Out now

Monster House
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Monsters vs. Aliens (exclusive to Samsung 3D TV owners)
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (exclusive to Panasonic 3D TV owners)
Coraline (exclusive to Panasonic 3D TV owners)
Under the Sea (exclusive to
Deep Sea (exclusive to
Goldberg Variations Acoustica 3D
Samsung Presents: IMAX 3D Triple Feature (exclusive to Samsung 3D TV owners)

Upcoming 3D Blu-ray Releases

How to Train Your Dragon (October, exclusive to Samsung 3D TV owners)
My Bloody Valentine (October)
A Christmas Carol (November)
Open Season (November)
Under the Sea (November, exclusive to LG 3D TV owners)
Deep Sea 3D (November)
Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (November)
The Polar Express (November)
Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk (November)
Dinosaurs Alive! (November)
Wild Ocean (November)
Clash of the Titans (November)
Despicable Me (December)
Alice in Wonderland (December, exclusive to Sony 3D TV owners)
Avatar (will be exclusive to Panasonic 3D TV owners in December 2010 and available to everyone in the first quarter of 2011)
Bolt (exclusive to Sony 3D TV owners)
The Shrek Collection (exclusive to Samsung 3D TV owners)
Astro Boy

3D PlayStation 3 Games

Out now: Gran Turismo 5, Call of Duty: Black Ops, StarDust HD, Wip3out, a 3D update for Pain, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift demo, MotorStorm 3D Rift (full game)

Coming soon: , Killzone 3, Mortal Kombat, Crysis 2, Tron, Shaun White, MotorStorm: Apocalypse, NBA 2K11 and Ghost Recon