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Active 3D vs. Passive 3D TVs

John Archer


Active 3D vs. Passive 3D TVs

When LG revealed at this year’s Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show that it was turning to passive technology for its 3D LCD TVs, we immediately felt it was a big deal.

The active 3D manufacturers tried to play LG’s move down, but in recent weeks we’ve also had Philips announce a range of passive 3D TVs. And it’s become apparent that LG, at least, isn’t just positioning passive 3D tech as a ‘cheap and cheerful’ alternative to active 3D. Rather it appears the company isout to suggest that passive is the better of the two systems.

This ‘charm offensive’ began at CES, and included claims of research suggesting that more than 80 per cent of people preferred watching passive 3D over active 3D. There was also talk of how the passive 3D TV approach is more in line with the experience of watching 3D at the cinema, and how passive 3D tech is more ‘in tune’ with side by side 3D broadcasts of the sort used by Sky.

We compared Samsung's UE55D8000 active 3D TV (above) against an early sample of a 55in passive 3D TV

Inevitably, much was made, too, of the fact that passive 3D TVs only need cheap, universally compatible glasses. And there were even guarded suggestions that active 3D is potentially bad for you.

Some of these arguments seem rather forced to us, but far from backing off post CES, the launch of new passive TVs in Korea has led to even more aggressive pro-passive claims.

There’s been a poster campaign, for instance, which suggests you can watch passive 3D TVs while lying down - something you can’t do with active 3D. Second and more startlingly, LG’s Korean operation has suggested that its passive sets deliver a full HD 3D experience - something that the active 3D players have always clung to as being their biggest advantage over passive 3D tech.

With the 3D ‘war’ about to explode on the UK scene as well, we thought it only right to try and get as early a sense as possible of just where the truth lies in all the 3D claims and counter claims. So when the opportunity came up to get our hands on a mid-range 55in edge LED passive 3D TV we jumped at the chance, wasting no time in placing it right alongside Samsung’s new active 3D 55D8000.

Would this early passive set deliver on the claims being made for passive technology and turn the 3D market on its head, or would active 3D take the performance - and moral - high ground?


August 11, 2011, 10:22 pm

Not quite sure what "an early sample of a 55in passive 3D TV" is supposed to refer to but I own one of the very first LG passive sets (LD950) and most of your comments fall apart in comparison to that. I'd therefore presume you're either testing a duff set or LG are seriously into regressive technology.

If you applied just a bit of science (or a lot more thought) to some of your so called "reviews" then they might be worth taking just a little more seriously.


December 8, 2011, 6:28 am

Argo, i am in complete agreement. I dont own any 3D set, but i am evaluating both systems, but i find it difficult to ignore the errors in this review. I am bothered by the fact that thee is no mention of the unit model being reviewed, you have this unnown unit stacked against an admitedly high end unit.....not sure this heps anyone. Also there is Zero impact, missing lines, reduced resolution in 2D viewing on passive sets. This is patently false, at least for current 3D sets. I guess in a way it doesnt really matter, but this seems like such a wildly slanted review to me. All the main advantages are dismissed and the nod given too the active set.....which frankly shouldnt happen, given that there are actual benifits to passive setuos, let alone both systems. Anyhow, you seem quite alone in your trusted review as you seem off base compared to eve the most ardent supporte of active 3D

Mike Price

October 19, 2012, 6:56 pm

I felt that this review wasn't so much a 'review' as an advert for the Samsung set. I have the full LED LM960V 55" tv, hung on the wall. There is simply nothing in this review that I recognise when I compare it to my set - which gives a great picture, both with standard Blu-Ray, 3d Blu-Ray, 3d from Sky and normal TV.

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