This year the proliferation of 3D-capable televisions saw us create specific Awards categories for the best 2D and 3D televisions and it suggests 3D, despite its critics, is here to stay. Furthermore our 3D 2011 television award winner, the Panasonic TX-P55VT30 (pictured) was truly exceptional. So why would we issue a warning here?
A prime reason comes in our praise for this television having found it to be “unbesmirched by the dreaded active 3D phenomenon of crosstalk” and “the first 3D TV we’ve seen that’s able to do full justice” to 3D showcase moments. The price of P55VT30? The cheapest we can find right now: £2149.99. As such our first caveat is price. 3D as a feature is increasingly integrated into affordable televisions, but it is only in the most expensive where it is done well. By contrast our 2D television of the year, the Samsung UE40D5520 retails for just £500 and second place went to the UE32D5000 UE32D5000 which sells for just £345.
Aside from price is content. Except for a few Blu-ray discs and Sky 3D (the only dedicated 3D channel), 3D content is extremely thin on the ground and no broadcaster has made great noise about this increasing markedly next year. The quality of 3D, particularly in the premium sector, may be hitting impressive levels but substantial further outlay is required to get just one channel and you have to ask what proportion of your time will be spent enjoying this extra dimension.
That said even if you have the means to afford the television and the Sky subscription, there is yet another reason to hold off: compliance. At roughtly £100 per pair, 3D glasses are expensive in their own right (particularly if bought for a large family), but as it stands all manufacturer brands are incompatible with one another. This means you are stuck to a specific company for future television purchases unless you want to buy your glasses again and should you be heading to a friend’s house for some mutual 3D enjoyment your glasses will need to be the same make as theirs or you are out of luck.
This will soon change with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) having already started the process for standardising 3D glasses allowing third parties to make pricing more competitive and your own glasses to be useful long after your 3D TV has bitten the dust. With televisions having a much longer shelf life than the majority of your devices we’d suggest patience this Christmas will be rewarded.