3D means three-dimensional: objects that have or images that appear to have width, height, and depth. 3D imaging technology has existed since the mid-1800s. The device used to take a 3D photograph back then was the stereoscope. The first 3D movie was produced in the early 1900s. Since those days technology has advanced considerably, but 3D image producing methodologies have remained constant over that same timeframe. The illusion of depth is still created by anaglyph images (combining two different images seen individually by each eye). The way this is done distinguishes the different 3D formats.
How 3D works
In 3D technology, two images are overlapped to increase the perception of depth: one image is for the right eye, the other for the left eye—a specialty camera system with two lenses films the content. The two lenses are separated horizontally. The camera’s specialized lenses create the perception of depth, which makes certain images appear to extend farther back from the surface of the screen; in some cases, those images appear to project out from the screen towards the viewers.
There are diverse implementations of 3D technology, but they all accomplish the same objective: projecting specific images to each eye. This is accomplished using various types of glasses, which selectively show different parts of the picture to your left and right eyes. The difference between the methodologies is the way the two images are created and the way the glasses function to separate the images.
3D TV is an HDTV with 3D compatibility. 3D compatibility is available on higher-end LED LCD, and Plasma TVs released since 2010. The two leading types of 3D TVs on the market today are “Active” or “Passive” technology. Active 3D TVs were introduced in 2010 by most TV makers, while Passive 3D TVs debuted in 2011—the main difference is in the glasses used to see 3D programming.
3D glasses are the least-expensive part of a 3D home entertainment system, yet the glasses may be the most important piece. If you plan on sitting in front of a 3D TV for more than an hour, having the most comfortable glasses is the key to an enjoyable experience.
The majority of 3D glasses on the market, directly correlate to a specific TV brand. Before you buy a 3D TV, find the best pair of glasses for you and go from there.
Active and passive 3D Glasses
The two types of 3D glasses, active and passive:
- Active LCD Shutter 3D glasses require power because they need to synchronize with your specific TV. The glasses are battery powered, which means eventually they will need replacing or recharging. Due to the intricacy of the technology, this type of glasses is more expensive to buy than their Passive counterparts. Active 3D can be found on LCD, LED and Plasma TVs and all front and rear projectors for the home.
- Passive 3D polarized glasses (used in theaters) require no batteries; therefore, cost and weigh less than their Active counterparts. Thus, it will be much easier to have a few spare pairs on hand for company. However, a Passive system on a flat-screen TV will not support the highest resolutions; as a result, the image quality may suffer in comparison. Passive 3D is currently available on LCD and LED TVs only.
3D Blu-ray Players
Presently, the best way to watch new 3D content is to buy a 3D-enabled Blu-ray player. This will allow you to watch standard 2D Blu-ray movies, view and listen to DVDs, and CDs, but also play any movie released in this format. All major manufacturers of Blu-ray players have 3D models that support this format.
Make sure that all 3D devices that you buy are HDMI 1.4 compliant. This means that your new 3D Blu-ray player will have an HDMI 1.4 connection(s), as well as any newer 3D TV. Therefore, you can directly connect the Blu-ray player to your TV and get a 3D picture. Note: HDMI 2.0 was released in 2013, which is backward compatible.
HDMI 1.4 compatibility
Make sure that all 3D devices that you buy are HDMI 1.4 compliant. This means that your new 3D Blu-ray player will have an HDMI 1.4 connection(s), as well as any newer 3D TV. Therefore, you can directly connect the Blu-ray player to your TV and get a 3D picture.
However, if you are currently using an AV receiver in your system, it might not support HDMI 1.4, so you won’t be able to use it to pass-through 3D signals to your TV. You can consult your salesperson for a possible work around.
What to consider when buying 3D devices:
- The type of 3D TV: passive or active?
- The 3D sources you wish to view: Blu-ray, cable TV, satellite TV?
- Connectivity: what will connect with my current home theater system—specially, regarding HDMI 1.4?
Common 3D Questions
1. Will a 3D TV show regular TV content?
Yes. 3D TVs plays conventional content and as well as 3D content.
2. Are 3D glasses needed to watch regular TV?
No. The special glasses only work with 3D content. Your TV can still play 2D movies and shows requiring no glasses.
3. What does “3D-ready” mean?
“3D-ready” meaning varies by manufacturer, but typically means that the TV can display 3D content. There are several ways to make this determination: check the manufacturer’s web site, features document, or look for a “3D Sync Out” connection on the back panel of the TV.
4. How do you clean 3D glasses?
Clean the 3D glasses one side at a time. 3D glasses have two screens in each lens, so putting pressure on both surfaces at the same time squeezes the two lenses together and might cause them to distort 3D viewing. Use a micro-fiber cloth to clean one side first, then the other.
DO NOT use alcohol, solvents, surface-active agents, or chemicals such as wax, thinner, or lubricant. These may result in stains or cracks on the surface of the lens. Moreover, DO NOT spray cleaning fluid directly onto the glasses—spray the cleaner onto a cloth.
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is an interface that transmits uncompressed/compressed digital audio and uncompressed video signals. Specifically, HDMI 1.4 provides support for 4K x 2K resolution, which
is four times the pixel-perfection of a 1080p device. This allows handling digital video in the same resolution as current digital cinemas.
AV (audio/video) receivers are the intelligence of most home theater systems. These receivers power the speakers in your home theater setup, and much more. AV receivers process the audio and video signals from
various input devices (Blu-ray, DVD, cable box, etc.), and transmit them to the display and external speakers.
A Blu-ray disc is an optical-storage disc similar to a DVD. Blu-ray discs are the same size as a CD/DVD, but it cannot be played in a conventional CD or DVD player. The advantage of a Blu-ray disc is that it can hold about six times the amount of data compared to a dual-layer DVD.
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