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Active 3D vs. Passive 3D TVs

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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.
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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?

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