For a long time, 3-D was just a goofy distraction from bad movies. Then 3-D started to look like a profitably goofy distraction from bad movies, and suddenly everyone wanted a piece. Everyone, that is, except home consumers.
You'll take our 3-D, and you'll like it
News that Panasonic (NYS: PC) , Samsung Electronics, and Sony (NYS: SNE) are teaming up on a standard 3-D spectacle specification follows reports that 3-D TV sales will continue to slowly plod along behind the more rapid growth of connected TVs. Despite the increasing popularity of 3-D in theaters, it seems apparent people are less willing to put on ridiculous eyewear at home to watch ... something or another. The list of programs and channels offering 3-D viewing is paltry, and I don't know anyone who feels the need to don extra headwear while they watch a soccer game. Neither does fellow Fool contributor Travis Hoium, who's pointed out the glaring flaws and major headwinds in 3-D's push to market.
The three manufacturers have decided to go full speed ahead anyway, forging a partnership with Xpand 3-D to make Bluetooth-enabled active-shutter glasses. That's right; you'll get the privilege of paying an extra $100 or more per person to watch the few programs your expensive TV actually offers in the format. Making these specs the standard format could reduce their cost, but many consumers are perfectly happy to upgrade to a more affordable HDTV, which allows everyone in the living room to enjoy television without extra hardware. If you must have a 3-D TV, you could simply keep the RealD (NYS: RLD) specs from the next 3-D blockbuster you watch.
Wait for something better
I don't know about you, but my viewing experience hasn't been markedly improved by the presence of 3-D. A Nielsen survey conducted last year found that most people were happy to keep their 2-D TVs. Fifty-seven percent cited the use of glasses as a major issue, which doesn't surprise me. There's been scant adoption of in-home 3-D, and even a RealD agreement with Samsung to put 3-D-enabled screens on Dell (NAS: DELL) , Toshiba, and Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) displays isn't likely to substantially move the needle on in-home adoption.
My advice? Wait for the next evolution. Like WebTV (now Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) MSN TV) before it, 3-D TV seems like an intermediate step between the early adoption of a new technological paradigm and its more robust mature form. MIT researchers recently developed holographic TV technology using Microsoft's Kinect. It's a first step on the road to truly 3-D viewing technology (without glasses!) that might be coming to living rooms within the next decade. If that seems far-fetched, take a look at your cell phone. How much different was your life before you got it?
Do you agree with my assumptions, or do you see a future through specially tinted glasses? Have your say in the comments section.
Fool contributorAlex Planeshas an old pair of 3-D glasses lying around somewhere, but owns no shares of any companies mentioned here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
At the time thisarticle was published
Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.