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3-D report from CES

3-D Living Room

Eighty percent of the stuff on the massive succession of floors here has something to do with thumping sound. Chairs are here that thump while you play immersive video games. Enormous speaker towers that you can pop your teeny iPod onto. Fabulous vehicles tricked out with woofers bigger than a Great Dane's. Miniscule earbuds that fry your eustachian tubes. My conceptual issue here is that, I don't know, I have a few sets of headphones and a couple of speakers here and there for a variety of purposes. How much sound gear does a person need? And why does it have to be thumping? I mean, some things should thump. But not everything.

There is still no food at CES. Or rather, the food stalls are few and the distance between them is vast. The lines are long. I think the most successful attraction at the show was the Starbucks. After that, Nathan's. We walked around hungry most of the time, because really, who has time to wait half an hour for a hot dog or a cruller?

Beyond that, there are of course a billion cameras and digital guitars and automated environmental systems for your home and all kinds of crazy stuff, some of which actually looks keen and even addresses some consumer need. But in the end, this week, it's all about 3-D TV. Sony and LG and Samsung and Panasonic and Nvidia and dozens of others were here dispensing gray glasses and then blasting your face with juicy imagery. My favorite screens, though, were the 2-D HD TVs that were less than an inch thick. I wanted one of those. They wouldn't tell me how much it cost because they're not priced yet, but when the technology comes down to under $1,000, I guess I'll grab one. They're all being manufactured to be 3-D capable, though. Right now, there isn't much stuff to put on a 3-D TV, but that's not stopping them. The industry is determined to give it to you, whether you recognize the fact that you want it or not.

I want to ask you something. Do you want 3-D? Beyond going to a movie theater and immersing yourself in it, do you like the experience? Does it give you a little bit of  a headache now and then? Do you like putting on glasses to watch TV in your living room, bedroom or rumpus room? If you had access to 3-D programming, what kind of programming would it be? Sports? News? Sex? What would drive you to watch a 3-D program?

I don't really believe the electronics industry is asking these questions. They're moving ahead full steam because in the past, technology has eventually triumphed over inertia, and they want everybody to acquire new hardware that's even newer than the new hardware they just purchased. And they'll probably win, too. Or at least some of them will. Me, I'd just like to know ahead of time who those winners might be, so I can avoid investing in the losers like I usually do.

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I only see 3D taking off when they manage to create big systems that require no glasses....a rec-room sized hologram with complete immersion....and throw in the big thumping speakers while you're at it.

I will, however, yield the floor to the distinguished blog member, Bob of Michigan, so he can properly address this subject.

No interest in 3-D here. I'm waiting for the focus of movies to switch back to humor, plot and character development once the novelty of killer sound and image quality wears off (and all of the super hero stories are fully exploited). The upgrade to blu-ray improved picture quality a bit, but really didn't make a big difference in the home movie experience for me.

What about the handheld smart-phones at CES? They are finally to the stage where they function as genuine mini-computers. That should enable an unprecedented expansion in the scope of employee slacking/personal business during work hours, with no trail for HR to follow. Seems like a big market opportunity. I guess that's why 20 somethings buy iPhones.

3D won't make up for the lack of quality in programming. TV in general sux these days. I rarely watch anything other than sports on it.

Avatar may have been a blockbuster, but it was due largely to the unique special effects. Look beyond that, and it was fairly lame. The next ten equally lame knock-offs will probably water down the wow-factor of 3D for a while. I expect a lot of hastily produced crap to hit the screen trying to cash in on the Avatar momentum. Do we really want to watch Taylor Swift's tour in 3D? I don't want to watch it at all!

Do I think 3D will eventually take off? Absolutely. However, I expect that it will be a while before there's enough quality content available to drive any large-scale demand.

As for what to watch ... Sci-Fi / Fantasy seems the most likely genre to benefit in the near term.

Sex? I suppose for those who have a TV for a companion, 3D might be an upgrade.

Sports? It seems like a distraction to me, but I suppose it depends on what you want from watching. If you want to feel like you're in the game, I can see where 3D would be a great way to go. If you want to actually watch the contest, though, it seems like 3D "on the field" perspectives would leave a lot out.

Just my $.02.

I don't want 3-D TV (or big thumping speakers), but I'm guessing that almost everyone under the age of 40 does. They also only want to watch movies or television programs with lots of gun fights, car crashes, big explosions, and no evidence of a plot line.
I think 3-D TV is part of the great conspiracy to dumb down America. Mike Judge's excellent movie "Idiocracy" gives a hilarious account of where we're going with all this nonsense.

3D, I'll have to pass on that, sounds too dangerous, imagine all the fights and injuries it would cause as you and your buddies try to take control of the glasses when the porn channel is on.

Ok, we could turn down the sound, add cogent plotlines, and sophisticated drama for the sissies. Or you can go watch that stuff with the womenfolk in the other 3D rec-room. I just can't wait for "The Piano" to come out in 3D.

The 3-D shows thay do at the IMAX theaters are very good. I actually agree with Mike in Spokane for once. I would only want no-glasses technology for my living room just like he does, but in the meantime - if you haven't tried 3-D lately, there's the IMAX theater.

Bing, now a 2" HDTV, this is more like it, vs your last wish list choice of the Flex. (still ugly)

I remember a number of years ago the indsutry was abuzz over a new TV format< HD. There were a number of naysayers that said it wouldn't catch on, not enough broacasters had the equipemnt to produce HD ...yada yada yada... you get the picture (in HD 3D I hope)

I'd use 3D to show the kids the inside of a damaged Eustachian tube, in the hopes they'd turn down the thumping. Seems like a good time to start investing in companies that make hearing aids.

Like many others here I have no interest in 3D unless I can have it without the glasses. And it needs to work from many viewing angles - if I'm watching tv while I'm playing pool or getting a drink I need it to work.

As for content, I'd watch anything in 3D whether it adds to the experience or not.

Not sure there's enough interest on my part to pay a premium for any of this, although I had the same thoughts about HD until I got see how big a difference it made to some viewing.

But what do I know, I'm from Canada...


3D is just another oxymoron added to the chain of empty audios and visuals of repetitive programming that creates a void in its viewers.

Continuing indulgence will have us all looking like "FAT ANDREW" on Bill Cosby's comedy show.

Have another baloney sandwich and a Starbucks, why not have two of em'? It's the fool proof method of avoiding the draft if it ever comes to that!

Actually, Bob, I believe it's Fat Albert.

Mike Jackson...agreeing with me can only mean one thing...brain tumor. Do you think I actually mean any of the inane BS I spout in here?

Stan, (there is no food and the food stalls are few and far between)?

The subliminal message I read from the food shortage is to condition visitors to associate
entertainment centers with hunger pangs!

Yes, "FAT ALBERT" is the man, only problem, he must yield himself to the boy behavior that layers itself in the fat he's attached himself to!

3D gives me a headache. So does too much thumping. Some experiences should not be spectacular, imho.

I wonder what storm front will form when the '3d immersive' cloud collides with the 'must be portable, with me as the protagonist, and a diversion while waiting at the airport' cloud.

3-D? Not yet, for me. Five years ago we bought our first TV with a remote control. What a novel thing, not to have to get up and change the volume! We bought it to watch DVD movies, which is still what we do, for the most part. Non-thumping movies.

If only we found TV shows to watch that weren't quite so inane. Mostly we check the weather, then turn it off again -- using the remote. Great technology.

3-D weather maps would be pretty neat -- but not enough to make me upgrade.

Bing, I went to see Avatar in 3D and wasn't all that impressed. Sure, it's come a long way from the times when King Kong's grainy arm looked like it was really trying to take a swipe at you. But I agree with others here that see it as a gimmick that tries to make up for the lack of originality in programming. I actually recommended that my friends not waste their money on the 3D version of Avatar as it was probably just as good with it. Although, you can't deny that Cameron hitting $1 billion worldwide with 3D is going to drive it in the industry now.

3D without glasses, yes, otherwise I'm not interested, 3D with glasses gives me a headache. I bet more on the tv-phone-computer-cable-internet machine than the 3D thing, thats a winner and the signal is when Microsoft or Google buy a cable company.

I will skip the 3D tv and wait for the hologram tv, now thats a change!!!

Support your local/regional banks, move your money out of the big fat banks!!!!!!!

I donated my TV 5 years ago. When my kids want to be entertained, we go play in the park or fire up the Wii console. The 3-D would be OK in the movies,except for those clunky plastic eye-frames that I have to put over my eye-glasses. My kids chewed my ears off this x-mas, wanting to get a TV, but I will try to delay the inevitable. I hope they will be into teen years, before I cave-in and get a TV. What I wish someone could start making is a SIMPLE cell phone with large enough keypad for my arthritic mother to be able to open and make a call with. Yea, and a cellphone battery that outlasts my wife's blah-blah's.

Bing, if you think you're going to get any valuable tips about with way the 3D market will go from these cheapskate luddites, then you've got another think coming. Most of them are still pissed that you can't get wax recording tubes to fit their nearly new gramophones. They're clearly in the 'very very late adapters, after all the stuff they've got is no longer repairable or completely forgotten' market segment.

Their big TV night is when the rabbit-ears don't give them fits during a National Public Television funding telethon. They are going to howl like banshees when some type of pay to watch format (likely cable) completely annihilates free TV (which, as you well know, is not far away).

At the risk of sounding young I'm going to go out on a limb here and disagree with most of you. I like 3D...
you guys honestly aren't excited? not even a little bit? Remember being a kid and watching movies where in the movies they had holographic technology? Well its 2000 freakin 10 already and were just starting the 3d tv trend.

I say if we are going to make any progress as a society in fulfilling my desperate expectations of what 2020 will look like we need to embrace any new technology as fast was we can.

I much prefer my 3-D the natural way -- live and in person. Sports, sex, nature, even explosions -- are best experienced in a non-vicarious medium. I realize that this brands me as a Luddite.

For video games (or porn), people will put on special glasses, so these TV's might sell. But for regular programs people don't want to hassle with gadgets or eyewear....

Audio equipment is a great metaphor. While it is true that most people use subwoofers to over-emphasize loud bass in rap and hip-hop music, all genres of music benefit from the accurate, full-range sound reproduction that a woofer helps to provide. In the same way, all types of video benefit from more realistic reproduction of real life.

If you saw Avatar in an IMAX theater, you probably saw the preview for the upcoming NASA Hubble documentary. Watching that 60-second preview should convince anyone that 3-D is vastly better than 2-D and will become the standard for cinema. It's not about action and loud and "things flying out at you." It's about the difference between seeing whatever it is that you're watching represented in flat, unrealistic, two-dimensional space and seeing a three-dimensional representation that comes close to real life. Doesn't matter if it's a car chase or a computer-generated model of your inner-ear.

I agree with many that cinema is one thing and home theater is another when it comes to 3-D. While I believe 3-D in cinema will become standard, I do not believe a very large percentage of people will accept the additional cost and inconvenience of bringing current 3-D technology into their homes, because of the expense and the necessity of wearing special glasses. In order to benefit fully from the current 3-D technology, you need (1) a 60"+ HDTV capable of 240Hz refresh rate that is 3-D equipped, (2) high-quality source material (either a 3-D Blu-Ray player or a 3-D channel on digital cable) and (3) LCD shutter glasses that currently cost more than $100/pair. So the market of likely adopters is probably some sub-set of people who already own a home theater or a large HDTV and Blu-Ray player, which doesn't describe most people that I know, at least.

"3-D weather maps would be pretty neat "

Hey Hey Hey! Dat's called "going outside!"

I'd like to see the Three Stooges in 3-D and Looney Tunes too.

Having actually experienced explosions (in a non-vicarious manner) I can truthfully say that they would be much more enjoyable in a 3D rumpus-room environment (with big thumping speakers). But then, that's just me.

I was there. When the survey guy asked how much I'd pay for a set of glasses, I replied that they should come with the set. He pressed me, I said $10 might be ok.

He asked if I'd be surprised tohear they would cost $150. I told him if that was true 3D was dead.

I much prefer my 3-D the natural way — live and in person. Sports, sex, nature, even explosions — are best experienced in a non-vicarious medium. I realize that this brands me as a Luddite.

Posted By Steve, Charleston, WV

So True... Steve, I'm not sure what a luddite is, but sign me up for that...I'm a hands on guy cheap substitutes...okay maybe reasonably priced ones..after a few drinks..

Hey, what are are you guys doing on computers, talking to people you'll never see or actually know...shouldn't you be out in the park with your spouses or children?

In fact, 15 years ago we wouldn't even be having this conversation...and about 30 years ago marketing executives at mainframe computing firms were scoffing at the idea that a household might find a 'personal computer' useful. It's highly likely that 3D's time will come, and it will take it's place in the very affordable home entertainment arena (and then you can all bitch about how good the days were when all you had were HD flat screens, and how much content has suffered, just like your great-grandfathers bitched about how auto's would never replace the horse).

3D will be the bridge to hologram TV, hologram projection is the prize. 3D TV, unless you are freed from the glasses, will be a curiosity, specially at $150.00 a pair, retail price for a pair of glasses made in China at a cost of $5.00!!!

Mike Spokane: do not get angry at us! if you read all the postings, most of us do not like the glasses, its not the 3D itself.

Jack, according to Wikipedia, the Luddites were British textile artisans in the early 19th century who rebelled against the textile mills of the industrial revolution. Nowadays, the term is used to describe anyone opposed to technological progress.

Mike, there are explosions you set off yourself, and then there are explosions that are set off with the intent of killing you. Kind of like the difference between shooting a gun and getting shot at. I like shooting my own gun (and my rifle, but that's another joke entirely).

As for why I'm on a computer at all -- I actually prefer writing letters, but I can't get past the appeal of keyboard keys that feel somewhat like nipples. Motivation is key.

Isaac, I'm not mad at anyone! Maybe I need to insert some emoticons....

And Steve, having spent a bit of time in the Marine Corps, I'm well acquainted with the two types of explosions...and the difference between my gun and my rifle (and a few other weapon systems).

I have some old friends who refuse to use emails for correspondence...they enjoy the tactile sensation of ink and paper. These 'Neo-Luddites' get quite offended that nobody writes them anymore....but when the world changes you have to adapt...because the world will not change for you.

In the workplace, I even know some 'Meta-Luddites' that use email and Word programs, but refuse to use spell-checker. It will 'dumb them down', they claim. All I know is that their spelling is generally atrocious... but I guess they've retained their regal bearing, and demonstrated a disdain for technology.

The entire bunch should be temporarily transported back to the grand old past, where they could enjoy writing on parchment scrolls, receiving news that is months (if not years) out of date, high infant mortality rates, and whittling their own false teeth out of walrus ivory (should they be lucky enough to live past the age of 35). :-)

Thanks for info Steve,,,you can forget about me becoming a luddite, as a matter a fact I'm giving up on my position that electricity is just a passing fancy and will be eventually be replaced by the good old reliable seal oil lamp.