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The Hardware Side

We should quickly say here that the Sky HD box performed more or less flawlessly with 3D content throughout our 2-week period. It recorded fine, it played back fine, and there were no issues with sound sync or other glitches. We guess this is as you’d expect given that Sky’s 3D images are essentially just another HD video stream, but it’s a relief nonetheless.

Things are much less straightforward when it comes to TVs, though. For if our two weeks of watching 3D as much as possible have taught us anything, it’s to hate crosstalk (double ghosting) noise even more than we did before. And crosstalk issues vary massively between different brands and type of TV.

During our tests we moved between five different 3D TVs: Samsung’s 65in UE65C8000, Panasonic’s 65in P65VT20, Panasonic’s 42in P42GT20, LG’s 47in 47LD950, and Sharp’s 60in LC60LE925E. And our enjoyment of the Sky 3D experience differed massively between each screen, with crosstalk being the most distinguishing factor.

Three TVs suffered very rarely with crosstalk: the two Panasonic’s and LG’s 47LD950. But our Samsung and Sharp models suffered with it quite noticeably. And for this reason alone, Sky’s 3D coverage was much more watchable (especially in the long term) and enjoyable on the crosstalk-free sets.

Crosstalk reduces image clarity, distracts you from what you’re watching, reduces the sense of depth, and worst of all quickly makes you feel fatigued as your eyes constantly try to compensate for the ghosting issue.

The most natural Sky 3D picture actually came from LG’s 47LD950. This might seem surprising given that the LG uses LCD technology while we’ve consistently found that plasma handles crosstalk better. But crucially the 47LD950 is the only current 3D TV that uses ‘passive’ side by side 3D tech, complete with cheapo, non-active-shutter glasses, rather than the alternate frame approach used elsewhere.

The 47LD950’s technology thus fits more comfortably with Sky’s side by side broadcast system, resulting in a very natural Sky 3D picture. The catch is that the LG’s performance falls down badly while watching full HD 3D Blu-rays, robbing them of resolution and struggling to define depth effectively.

We should finally say in defence of the Samsung and Sharp LCD (with LED lighting) screens that they deliver the goods with Sky’s broadcasts when it comes to brightness, detail (when crosstalk isn’t too pervasive) and colour vibrancy. But we find it hard to believe that anyone who watches 3D for any length of time will not find as we do that crosstalk is the only thing that really matters right now.

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