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3D TV: First Impressions

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For the past few days, I have mostly been living in 3D. Not just the usual boring 'ooh, look, I’m walking along the street and some people look closer to me than others' kind of 3D life, obviously. But a 3D AV life, where the majority of what I’ve been watching on TV has had that all-important extra dimension of depth to it.

You’re probably wondering how exactly I’ve managed this, given that 3D is currently mostly the stuff of marketing legend rather than something with many tangible products behind it. Well, it all started when I got my hands on a preview sample of Samsung’s 46in 46C7000 3D-capable TV, complete with a pair of Samsung’s proprietary active shutter-type 3D glasses, a preview sample of Samsung’s BD-C6900 Blu-ray player, and a preview Full HD 3D Blu-ray of Monsters Vs Aliens.
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Then I noticed that Sky had started broadcasting its 3D channel (channel 217 for anyone with a Sky HD box), which I managed to 'unlock' with a single phone call to a rather startled phone assistant who just needed to check that I wasn’t going to try and watch the 3D content on an ordinary TV!

Finally, I wasted no time ordering myself a copy of the Avatar Xbox 360 game - one of the only console games around right now with a 'proper' 3D engine in it designed to work with the latest TV tech.

By last Friday morning, then, I had not only a decent sized, state of the art 3D TV in my possession, but also not one, not two, but three different 3D sources. And to be honest, nobody was more surprised to have mustered such a collection of 3D stuff as me.
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It really brought home to me just how close the supposed 3D revolution is, and how it really doesn’t look like it’s going to be one of those technologies where you have to wait years before a significant content base is built up.

Now for the disclaimer bit. First - and this really is crucial - the Samsung TV I was looking at was a pre-production unit, that didn’t even have the latest firmware in it. As a result, it’s possible that its performance with 3D will change before final production units arrive, and what I say here should in no way be considered a review of the Samsung TV.
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Second, the Samsung TV, the 3D Blu-ray player, the Monsters Vs Aliens disc, the Avatar game and the Sky broadcasts all represent industry 'firsts', so I really have no way of putting their performance into any kind of wider context.

In other words, where problems with my 3D viewing arise - and as we’ll see, problems definitely did arise! - I can’t say with any absolute certainty what’s to blame for those problems. Is it the screen? Is it the 3D mastering? Is it that 3D shooting techniques aren’t sophisticated enough yet? Or is it just that 3D has innate limitations?

This feature, then, is not intended to be a definitive verdict on 3D! It is, as its title suggests, simply my first thoughts on what 3D might bring to the AV table based on the first bits of in-progress 3D kit I’ve got my hands on.

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