Don't Buy That 3-D TV Just Yet

The box office success of "Avatar" is pushing Samsung to begin mass production of 3-D televisions, but even if the $2,000 to $4,000 initial price tag is lowered a bit, don't go buy one yet.

There are many reasons, one of the top being that any new technology always costs a lot when it first comes out and then drops in price as more people buy it. But that could take years. Just ask the early adopters of HDTVs and standard DVD players. Prices are now about as far down as they'll get, and even Blu-Ray DVD players are inexpensive.

But there are other reasons to stay away from the fun allure of being the first on your block to have a 3-D TV.

Upgrade fatigue
It's expected to take Samsung ten years to reach a mass market with 3-D TVs -- about how long it took high-definition TVs to reach more than half of the U.S. population -- and that could be enough time for consumers tired of constantly upgrading to more expensive entertainment systems to come around.

Still, 3-D TV is on its way into our living rooms in 2010, so the upgrade bug may bite, but don't give in to the urge and to the high prices.

HDTVs recently dropped below $1,000, and many Americans have gone to Blu-Ray after the DVD makers decided on a widely accepted format. Another gadget just may be too much for consumers.

The funky glasses
The bulky 3-D glasses you wear in the theater will have to be made lighter and more comfortable to make home viewing a better experience. They're shaded like sunglasses, making a movie a little darker than viewers are used to.

3-D movies have also been reported to cause motion sickness, blurred vision and headaches -- all side effects you don't want anytime and especially after paying thousands of dollars for a new TV.

Taking them on and off at home during interruptions would be a hassle, and you'd need extra pairs for visitors.

Blurred, yet fascinating
Sometimes the 3-D images look blurry (with or without the glasses on), and other times they jump out at you that makes the extra money you've paid to get into the 3-D movie worth it. Until the technology advances enough, paying thousands for a blurry TV show, even if only blurry some of the time, seems like a waste of money.

There's also something to be said for experiencing 3-D movies in a theater with a big screen, excellent sound and a crowd of strangers with a bag of popcorn in your hand. It's a bigger than life experience that's difficult to replicate at home, no matter how big your home theater is.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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