Checking Out 3-D TV


Las Vegas — While the mood is a bit subdued at this year’s CES, the industry’s gadgeteers managed to hype a hot new tech: 3-D television.

Sony’s Howard Stringer featured 3-D in his keynote yesterday, and Panasonic’s Yoshi Yamada earlier this week called the advent of the technology as big as the move from standard-def to HDTV.

Both companies have demos of 3-D TV prototypes on the show floor, and I checked them out today. (Both, incidentally, featured clips from Disney’s Bolt.) 

Which was better? The Sony glasses were lighter. The Panasonic images at times appeared flat or slightly distorted, although this may have been a factor of the source material.

But both 3-D TVs were very, very cool. 

Confetti fluttered and bubbles floated right out of the Panasonic set, and Sony’s Monster House seemed to poke its splintered beams uncomfortably close to your chin.

The 3-D effect particularly enhanced the sports action — check out Kobe Bryant draining a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in 3-D – though it’s disorienting if the camera angles change quickly. I’m not sure I’d want everything I watch on TV to be 3-D but sports and movies would probably be enough justify an upgrade (depending on the price) at some point.

By the way, sitting behind me in the Panasonic demo was Kevin Martin, the lame-duck FCC chairman who’s making his final appearance at CES tomorrow. (Not that he’s got anything better to do… like, say, trying to prevent the DTV transition from being a total train wreck.)

So, what’d he think? "It was very impressive," Martin said, adding that he thought the 3-D footage from the Beijing Olympics was the most stunning.