Clearly the active 3D fraternity were caught on the hop by LG's passive move, and will need to put considerable effort into countering LG's bold claims as the year goes on. After all, while at the moment our love of films still makes full HD active 3D our format of choice, much of what LG was saying - and showing - was surprisingly persuasive...
Remarkably, LG's 3D shift was just the first of two gigantic 3D announcements. For merely two hours after LG had finished its conference, a press release from Toshiba landed in our in-tray stating that the brand was going to be launching a range of glasses-free 3D TVs into Europe within the next fiscal year (April 2011-March 2012).
Given that all current research suggests that the need to wear glasses for 3D viewing is the biggest block to 3D’s success, Toshiba's announcement has the potential to be even more of a game changer than LG's focus on passive tech. Especially as we're not talking here about puny little tellies; Toshiba is promising glasses-free 3D sets of 40in and above, and was showing off 56in and 65in models equipped with LED backlighting and, significantly, 4k2k native resolutions.
A few other brands were also showing off glasses-free 3D TVs at the CES, including, most notably (and surprisingly), Sony. But everyone bar Toshiba was stating 5-10 years before their glasses-free tech was ready to be launched to consumers.
So what's given Toshiba such a massive time advantage? Well, according to the press release, "Toshiba has been able to introduce the world’s first glasses-free 3DTV thanks to its expertise in design and engineering. The company has a strong heritage in designing software algorithms and developing powerful consumer electronics processing technology to calculate multiple view points from stereoscopic images, as well as the expertise to ensure exceptional picture quality on a large screen. The products for the European market will use Toshiba’s powerful CEVO-Engine, which is able to provide the extremely high-calculation power needed to run glasses-free 3D technology on the TV’s large screens."
This all sounds very grand, and the CEVO engine is indeed a powerful bit of kit. However, we currently have a slightly different thought as to how Toshiba might have got so far ahead of the pack with launching glasses-free 3D. Namely that unlike other brands, it's prepared to launch the technology when it's not really ready.
Our trouble meter started to register as soon as we finally reached the front of the queue to see Toshiba's glasses-free sets in action, and realised that the lengthy queue wasn't down so much to the sheer weight of public demand as it was to Toshiba's desire to tightly control how the screens were viewed.