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The past 12 months have seen innovations aplenty in the home cinema market, but 2010 will mostly be remembered as the year when the industry decided that two dimensions were no longer enough – true cinematic nirvana can only be achieved, it seems, by adding a third.
Yes, 3D has dominated the home cinema landscape this year, with big name brands like Sony, Panasonic, LG and Samsung throwing their hats into the ring (straight towards the camera, probably) with a slew of highly impressive 3D-capable TVs and Blu-ray players. There still aren’t many discs to choose from, but with Sky launching its 3D channel earlier this month and a steady stream of 3D cinema releases ripe for a Blu-ray conversion, the future is looking bright for the technology.
That said, 3D is still a rich man’s plaything, with TVs and players commanding hefty price tags – and that’s even before you’ve factored in the cost of extra glasses, which are only compatible with the set they’re designed for, we hasten to add. For buyers who have only just got their head round HD, it’s a hell of a lot to take in...
In the Blu-ray player market, 3D has obviously been the headline feature and models like the Samsung BD-C6900, the Panasonic DMP-BDT100 and the Sony BDP-S570 have impressed, not only with their ability to deliver deep, layered images but also with features like DLNA network streaming and access to Internet services, which expand content beyond the confines of physical media.
Platforms like BRAVIA Internet Video, Internet@TV, Viera Cast and Net Cast deliver a growing amount of on-demand content to your TV, and most of the latest players can do so over a wireless web connection too. Although these aren’t new, 2010 has seen them turn from fun gimmicks into genuinely compelling features.
The arrival of 3D has had a knock-on effect on the AV receiver market too, as its reliance on HDMI v1.4 means that consumers have to upgrade if they want to enjoy 3D pictures and HD audio at the same time. All the audio big hitters like Onkyo, Denon, Yamaha and Pioneer have added 3D support, as well as delivering more of that superb sound quality we love them for. This has been complemented by a generally high standard in the home cinema speaker market, with brands like Monitor Audio, Crystal Acoustics and Teufel delivering the goods yet again.
And last but not least, 2010 saw the introduction of Freeview HD, which offers free high-definition TV through a rooftop aerial without any pricey subscription fees to worry about. Even though it hasn’t yet been rolled out to all parts of the UK, there’s already a wide range of Freeview HD products on the market, including TVs, twin-tuner PVRs and receivers – not to mention a range of superb Blu-ray/HDD combis from Panasonic.