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It's All About The 3D Sources

This really did all come as a bolt from the blue for a company that had only one passive set last year while the rest were active - and which, indeed, still has an extensive range of active 3D plasma TVs coming up this year.

With practically no other brands even talking about passive 3D tech except for very small screen sizes, much less having ranges of passive screens on show, LG's sudden breaking with the active 3D ranks initially looked like a moment of madness, despite all the reasons for backing passive the company was trotting out. But then we remembered how we declared last year's solitary passive 3D set, the LG 47LD950, capable of producing arguably the best picture of all 2010's 3D TVs when showing Sky's 3D broadcasts. Admittedly the 47LD950 fell apart somewhat with Blu-rays, but then at the moment by far the majority of 3D content in the UK is coming from Sky.

LG's passive 3D set from last year - the 47LD950 - certainly handled Sky's 3D broadcasts with aplomb

Then we also remembered our belief that aside, perhaps, from gaming, 3D will likely be a social format, reserved for family movies or groups of sports fans. Which, of course, makes passive tech’s cheap-as-chips glasses a near necessity.

Barely had we digested this, moreover, LG then revealed that it was addressing the other 'passive problem': the high cost of passive screens. Prices for its 2011 passive sets will start at just £699 - not bad at all, even if this price is only attached to a 32in 3D TV.

Keeping passive pricing down allows the brand to make the argument that it sees passive 3D TVs as the mass market option, while active 3D is there for the (presumably non-epileptic!) enthusiasts.

Whether LG's passive move is a stroke of genius or madness won't become fully apparent until a) we get chance to see how the new, so-called ‘Cinema 3D’ sets perform, and b) it becomes more clear where the main sources of 3D content are in 2011. It will also be interesting to see how LG manage to juggle their apparently difficult to reconcile messages about passive and active tech, given that it's selling both.

One thing that's definitely not in doubt, however, is that LG's move has ruffled a few 3D feathers. The reaction to LG's move from representatives of the active 3D brands we spoke to varied from (possibly feigned!) amusement to uninhibited vitriol. But aside from simply reiterating again and again that active 3D is the only way to get a full HD 3D picture, it was striking how little effort was made to counter LG's passive claims and ‘sell’ active 3D instead.

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