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What is the difference between 3D now and the 3D people watched 20 years ago?
Digital 3D is a huge advancement over the 3D of yesteryear. Many consumers are familiar with anaglyph technology that used two-color (red/blue or red/green) glasses to deliver the images to both eyes. New digital 3D technologies are able to deliver clear, full color images to each eye. In addition, advances in digital production technologies have improved how 3D movies and programs are created and aligned on the screen. All of these factors combined provide a much richer and more comfortable experience than was available in past decades.

How does 3D TV work?
A major reason you see 3D in the real world is that your two eyes are a few inches apart, so they see from slightly different angles. 3DTV attempts to mimic that effect by displaying two slightly different pictures on the screen – one for each eye. The special 3D glasses let your left eye see only the view that your left eye should see, and the right eye see only the view that your right eye should see. Your brain fuses these slightly different images and generates a sense of depth. Read more about how 3DTV works.

Can I use my current TV to watch 3D programming?
No. High-definition 3DTV requires video processing capabilities not found in 2D sets. Legacy 2D plasma and/or LCD TVs – even the latest 120Hz displays – can’t accept the 3D signal and there is no infrared or Bluetooth signal to sync the required active shutter 3D glasses.

Can I watch things that aren’t in 3D on my 3DTV?
Absolutely! A 3DTV is a high-quality HDTV with additional capabilities. It shows 2D content perfectly well when it is not showing 3D.

What do I need to watch today’s high-definition 3DTV?
You will need a 3DTV, corresponding 3DTV glasses, an infrared emitter/receiver (often built into the set), a 3D video source (a blu-ray player or supported cable/satellite box) and 3D video content.

Why do I need to pay $150 for glasses when I get them for free in the theatre?
There are currently two different eyewear technologies used to view 3D – polarized and active shutter. Many theaters in the US use polarized systems, but 3DTVs use active shutter glasses. These glasses are substantially more sophisticated and expensive than the passive polarized counterparts used in theaters.

How do active shutter glasses work?
Active shutter glasses use shutters to switch between the left and right eye to give you full color resolution in both eyes. The isolation between the left and right eye information is very high, so you shouldn’t see any distracting ghost images (crosstalk) as you might with polarized glasses or anaglyph (blue/red filters) glasses. This technology makes the glasses more expensive, but the benefit is that active shutter glasses systems can deliver the highest resolution image on today’s TVs.

Are active shutter glasses compatible with all 3DTVs? Are they interchangeable between different 3DTV brands?
No. At present, each brand’s glasses will work only with their 3DTVs, but they should work on any 3DTV produced by that manufacturer.

I wear prescription glasses and contacts. How can I watch 3D?
Active shutter 3D glasses are large enough to wrap around your regular glasses and allow you to enjoy 3D video and movies.

How soon will there be TVs available where I don’t have to wear glasses?
3DTVs that do not require glasses are available today. You may see them used in special venues or for advertising. These televisions have low effective resolution and require the viewer to find the “sweet spot” and remain in it in order to see a distortion free image. In addition, there are other major technical problems to solve before they will be a consumer product. Glasses-free television will probably not be available for the mass market for at least another decade.

What is frame sequential technology?
It is the enabling technology for 3D in full HD. Separate 1920 x 1080 full HD images for the left eye and right eye are sent to the viewer. You watch the images through active shutter glasses, which open and close the left and right shutters in synchronization with the alternating images. This results in sharp, crisp 3D images.

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Can 2D content be upconverted into 3D?
Yes and some new 3DTVs with a simulated-3D feature will, in a sense, upconvert existing 2D images to 3D and do so in real time with a built-in processor. That said, it is important to note that simulated 3D, like simulated stereo or HDTV, doesn’t measure up to the real thing.

Do my Blu-ray player and 3D television have to be the same brand in order to work with each other?
No. In order to play 3D Blu-ray discs, your player will need to be a 3D-compatible Blu-ray player. But your 3D Blu-ray player should play with any of the new full resolution 3DTVs.

If I buy a 3D Blu-ray movie, can I play it on my older non-3D player?
Yes, but you will see a 2D movie. There are exceptions. Some Blu-ray players, primarily those in the Sony PS3, can be upgraded with a firmware download so that they can output the full-resolution 3D signal.

Are there 3D videogames? Can I play them on this screen?
There are several 3D videogames, and many more in development for both PCs and consoles, especially PS3. If you have a newer PC with a compatible graphics card, it can potentially turn many existing games into 3D to work with your new 3DTV. You may have to use adapters or install additional hardware or software, depending on your specific setup.

Is it important where I sit when I watch 3DTV?
Yes. Studies done by the University of California, Berkeley BanksLab Visual Space Perception Laboratory have shown that seating and viewing angles are critical when viewing 3D movies and TV programs when compared to conventional viewing. The research isn’t complete yet, but suggests a maximum viewing angle of 30 degrees to either side of the center of the screen.

There are three other reasons why your seating position is important. First, the stereo effect is lost when your head is turned at right angles to the screen. Next, the infrared emitter in your 3DTV may be blocked, or not picked up correctly by your active shutter eyeglasses. Finally, if you lie on your side while watching a 3D program, the active shutter glasses may darken the image to the point where you can’t see it anymore.

How about the seating distance to the TV screen?
Again, there aren’t any hard and fast rules here. The rule of thumb for HDTV screens is to sit no closer than 1.5x the screen’s diagonal size, so for a 50-inch 1080p screen, you’d want to sit no closer than six feet. You may find that sitting farther back works better for a 3D presentation. Try a maximum seating distance of 2x the screen diagonal size for starters and adjust from there.

Don’t sit too far back, though – 3D images should fill most of your field of view for maximum effect. If the screen appears too small, you may develop eyestrain trying to watch the 3D effects. At a distance of 1.5x the screen diagonal, the TV screen should fill about 50 percent of your field of view.

I have heard that I need to buy HDMI 1.4 cables. Is this true?
No. There is no such thing as an HDMI 1.4 cable. You’ll need to use high speed HDMI cable. High speed HDMI cables (10.2 Gbps or higher) come in two versions; one that supports ethernet pass through, designated high speed HDMI cable with ethernet (aka, HDMI spec version 1.4), and one that does not (simply called high speed HDMI or version 1.3). Only newer receivers with HDMI 1.4 ports can pass through all of the 3D video formats including full HD (1080p) 3D signals.

Can my existing AV receiver (AVR) pass 3D video from my Blu-ray player to my TV over HDMI?
Only newer receivers with (HDMI 1.4 ports) can pass full HD 3D signals. A new receiver with HDMI 1.4 will resolve this issue, but if you’re not ready to replace your AVR, here are a few options:

  1. Connect a HDMI cable directly from your Blu-ray player to your 3DTV for video. Next, connect an S/PDIF (optical cable) from your TV to your AVR for audio. You may need to adjust your AVR’s audio delay feature and/or upgrade AVR firmware to correct for lip sync errors.
  2. Connect a HDMI cable directly from your Blu-ray player to your 3DTV for video. Next, connect an S/PDIF (optical cable) from your Blu-ray player to your AVR. You may need to adjust your AVR’s audio delay feature and/or upgrade AVR firmware to correct for lip sync errors.
  3. Use an 1.4 HDMI splitter (when available) to connect to both your AVR and 3DTV.

What 3D content is available?
The major 3D content will be movies, sports/live events, television and games. Movie studios are beginning to release their 3D movies on Blu-ray 3D. Several companies, including ESPN, have announced the production and distribution of sports and live events over DIRECTV and various cable providers. Discovery Communications has announced a 3D channel for television content. Many PC games are automatically enabled when combined with special adapters, with 3D console games coming as well. New announcements are coming all the time.

Is 3DTV safe?
3DTVs are safe. Like many other consumer products, 3DTVs may carry a consumer advisory to equip customers with information necessary to enjoy these products responsibly. When used properly and instructions and advisories are followed, 3D functions should not pose adverse health or safety risks.

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Can everyone see 3DTV?
According to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development ( nearly one million people in the US suffer from stereo blindness which prevents them from perceiving the intended depth of 3D entertainment. Also, some people who watch 3D programming may experience initial feelings of motion sickness as they adjust to the picture. Others may experience headaches, eye fatigue or continued motion sickness. Like a roller coaster, the experience is not for everyone.

Article by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)

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