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Jan 08, 2010

I know that James Cameron hasn’t had a blockbuster in the last 15 years, so I felt sorry for him and decided to do my part to contribute to his bank account by seeing Avatar 3D last night. Verdict? First 100 minutes: meh. Last hour: cliché, predictable… and had me totally hooked. Although it would have been nice if the corporate bad guy was at least 1.5 dimensional.

Anyway I saw it at the HPS-4000-equipped theater in Framingham which supplied Real-3D glasses for the performance:

Real 3D glasses

(BTW, last week’s HT Guys podcast had a good discussion of the various 3D glasses that are used for Avatar showings at theaters across the US.)

The big talk in home theater circles is the imminent arrival of 3D television. I’m skeptical of this for reasons that I’ll write about in moment, but given Avatar’s reputation as a game-changing 3D movie, I was prepared to re-evaluate my thinking. After seeing the movie, I haven’t changed my mind - I still see 3D as a gimmick.

As for why I don’t think 3D TV will be success anytime soon, it comes down to two reasons. Reason #1: 3D TV will generally require new televisions. However we (Americans) just got finished buying new TV’s as part of the digital switchover. We’re not about to dump these for new TV’s, at least not for many years, for a gimmick.

Reason #2: the glasses. All of the 3D technologies I am aware of require specialized glasses for viewing (either the anaglyph-type or polarized glasses). Glasses are pain to deal with, especially for the 51% of Americans like me that wear actually vision-correcting glasses. 3D glasses are bulky, they will break, they will get lost, they will get scratched and so on. Unless these glasses are dirt cheap (as in you can go to your local drugstore and pick up a couple of dozen for $5 or so) I don’t think people will bother. The anaglyph-type glasses are cheap enough that they’re typically given away, but the polarized pair are more expensive and that alone will be a turn off. In my opinion of course.

If 3D has a future in the home, it will be for video games, specifically multi-player spit-screen/overlaid polarized graphics to allow each player to see different images. Barring some advance in technology that allows viewers to see 3D with existing televisions without using glasses (or at least very inexpensive glasses), 3D in the home will continue to be the rare novelty that it is today.

After all, do you know of anyone who is demanding 3D in the home? Didn’t think so.

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