Well, 3D is finally properly here. Yes, after all the waiting, all the hype, all the controversy, all the mixed opinions, all the innovations, all the effort that’s gone into trying to establish a (sort of) 3D standard, all the 'not quite finished’ preview products, and most of all, all the worrying memories of Jaws 3D, I finally have the UK’s very first Samsung UE55C8000 3D Ready TV – a finished, production line, 55in model with final firmware.
And just so newcomers to this whole 3D business are absolutely clear about this, when I say ‘3D Ready TV’, I’m talking about a TV that can handle both the new ‘active’ alternate frame Full HD Blu-ray 3D format, and the ‘side by side’ 3D passive format now being broadcast through Sky HD boxes to anyone with a full Sky World package (check out channel 217 if you don’t believe me).
I’m most emphatically not talking about the old ‘offset’ 3D images that have been broadcast in the past, such as the Channel 4 3D week shown a few months ago. Those sort of blurry, standard def-only 3D images could actually work on any old TV; all you needed was a pair of those cheap, cardboard 3D glasses with the separate red and green lenses.
3D for the home circa 2010 is a far more sophisticated affair, driven by a desire to make it HD and, more importantly, something that’s actually good, rather than a daft gimmick guaranteed to give you a headache in two seconds flat.
Before we find out what sort of case the first 3D TV puts for the new format, though, there’s a scary amount of other stuff we need to talk about regarding the UE55C8000.
For a start, it’s absolutely, jaw-droppingly, pant-wettingly gorgeous. Seriously. Just when you think Samsung’s design department might be running out of steam, they shift tack and blow us away all over again. Here the shift has led to the old dark, sometimes gently coloured ‘Crystal’ finish and curvaceous lines being ditched in favour of a radically different silver and metallic finish, rounded off to perfection by a sliver of transparent glass protruding for around half a centimetre from the TV’s extremities.
Oh, and there’s also the rather key fact that the TV sticks out just 26.5mm at the back. Think about this for a minute: a vast 55in screen wrapped in metal with a profile slimmer than your average wall clock. It really is a sight to behold.
In fact, it’s so slim that it’s caused Samsung a few connection headaches. For because Samsung has sensibly decided to put all the connections in a sideways orientation, so that the TV can be wall-hung more easily, there just isn’t enough depth left in the TV to support SCARTs, a standard RF jack, an Ethernet port, a D-Sub PC jack, or even the RCA connectors used by normal composite and component video inputs. So Samsung has had to include smaller-terminalled adaptors for all of these connections. In fact, the TV is so slim that even its four HDMIs and two USB ports look cramped.
These HDMIs are more interesting than most since they’re all v1.4 affairs - the new standard designed to cope with 3D signals, carrying all the signal info necessary for 3D TVs to correctly identify the type of 3D fare they’re receiving. The USBs are actually very noteworthy too, since one is able to take an HDD drive, while either can be used to add a USB Wi-Fi dongle if you want to spend a few quid extra on securing one.