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What is 3D TV?

3D or stereoscopic imaging is a technique capable of recording three dimensional images, which gives the illusion of image depth. When discussing 3D TV technology, it encompasses TV programming, movies, or games. Currently most TVs and HDTVs broadcast 2D images or show only height and width.

How Does 3D Work?
To see a three dimensional or stereoscopic image, two images have to be displayed at the same time. Stereopsis is the process which allows our individual eyes to see depth in an image. One of the images is projected for the viewer’s right eye and the other image for the left. When the two images are displayed they are layered one on top of the other; one is slightly to the right and one is slightly to the left. When looking at the images without the assistance of 3D glasses, the image will appear blurry. When wearing 3D glasses, the images blend together and give the illusion of depth as well as the image’s height and width.

3D Glasses
Until recently, 3D glasses were plastic with one red lens and one blue. Those were used for the more archaic anaglyph 3D movies. When worn, the different colored lenses created two false-colored images. The images were discolored because of the two colored lenses and the resulting image on the screen was low-resolution. Improvements have been made on the technology; consequently the new 3D movies, TV broadcasts, and games can be viewed in 1080p, full 3D HD.

Active liquid crystal shutter glasses replace older tinted glasses to give a 1080p, full 3D image. New shutter glasses alternate blocking each eye up to 120 times per second, like opening and closing your eyelids one side at a time, but it’s not humanly possible to do without the aid of the glasses. They link to the TV by an infrared Bluetooth signal and use rechargeable batteries.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I need to buy a 3D TV to watch 3D programming, movies, or play games?
Can everyone see 3D?
Will I get a headache?
Do I have to wear the 3D glasses?
What equipment will I need to buy in addition to a 3D TV?
Is a 3D Movie in the Theater the Same as a 3D Movie at Home?

Q: Do I need to buy a 3D TV to watch 3D programming, movies, or play games?
A: Yes. Currently none of the traditional standard or high-definition TVs on the market can be upgraded to support the new 3D technology. You will need to buy a TV specifically made for viewing 3D TV broadcasts, movies, or playing games. There are a few 3D-compatible DLP and Plasma TVs which have been recently released by Samsung. There is no confirmation by Samsung as to whether they will be compatible with other manufacturer’s 3D sources, like 3D Blu-ray players. Mitsubishi also has a 3D adaptor box available sometime in 2010, which will be compatible with sources like Blu-ray players. The image quality post 3D upgrade is in question.

Q: Can everyone see 3D?
A: No. According to the College of Optometrists, approximately 5-10% of the population has stereo blindness. That segment of the population can’t see 3D images. If you have stereo blindness you can still watch 3D programming, unfortunately, it will only be perceived in 2D. If you have stereo blindness and watch 3D you may experience headaches and/or your eyes could feel tired.

Q: Will I get a headache?
A: Most people will not get headaches or eyestrain from watching 3D programming. 3D programming can cause headaches or strain after extended periods of watching. You eyes could feel tired.

Q: Do I Have to Wear the 3D Glasses?
A: Yes. If you watch without the glasses then you will see a blurry, unwatchable image. All who watch 3D must wear the 3D eyewear.

Q: What equipment will I need to buy in addition to a 3D TV?
A: For watching TV, a pair of active liquid crystal shutter glasses will be needed. Also, if you would like to watch Blu-ray movies, you will need to purchase 3D compatible equipment. A standard Blu-ray player will not play 3D Blu-rays. You will need a 3D Blu-ray player to se 3D images.The stand alone exception is Sony’s Playstation 3. By the end of 2010 Sony will release a firmware upgrade allowing users to play 3D Blu-ray discs and games in 3D.

Q: Is a 3D Movie in the Theater the Same as a 3D Movie at Home?
A: The technology is similar with two major differences, the size of the screen projecting the images and the glasses. In the theater the images are very large and don’t require the same active liquid crystal shutter glasses that you need in a home setting. It’s necessary to sit closer to the TV than you would to a screen in a theater.

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