Economy delaying 3-D hits

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Panasonic isn’t the only player in the home 3-D market. Though some sets from other manufacturers are available already, the 3-D effect is unreliable, and there’s little content to support the hardware. The first stereoscopic 3-D high-definition plasma sets from Panasonic — which debuted to much fanfare earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show — are 12 to 18 months from hitting store shelves.

The 3-D system Panasonic is working on mirrors the 3-D system currently racking up box-office dollars in theaters, down to the glasses that must be worn to create the effect. The plasma television Panasonic is prepping for the consumer market works by capturing two separate high-definition images from two different angles and using plasma’s ability to switch between them at high speeds to, in effect, blend together when viewed through a special pair of glasses.

The problem Panasonic faces is persuading working on — no easy task because other manufacturers, such as Phillips and Mitsubishi, have developed their own 3-D TVs.

A format war — especially one that takes place during a global economic downswing — will only further delay consumer adoption of the 3-D format, just as the HD-DVD/Blu-ray battle slowed adoption of high-definition home entertainment.

“We want to create the standard because we think it is the next frontier of television,” Mr. Perry says. “We think the creative community wants to make more realistic and more lifelike content. So we think this is just a golden opportunity for everybody, and we hope that it doesn’t degrade into a ridiculous standards battle where people fight against each other and the consumer loses.”

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