For the first time, Consumer Reports has rated 3D TVs, and concluded that plasma TVs are better than LCDs for displaying the technology, primarily because there is less ghosting.
Consumer Reports tested 14 models and found that the same things that affected standard picture quality also affected 3D, including the aforementioned ghosting, as well as black level, brightness, and viewing angle.
"It remains to be seen whether 3D TV is just a novelty or a new product category in the consumer electronics space," said Paul Reynolds, electronics editor for Consumer Reports. "But, our tests show that there are some fine 3D TV sets out there for those consumers eager for a new experience."
Novelty or the next big thing, CR is enthusiastic about the technology. Following its six-month evaluation, CR said: "[W]e can tell you 3D TV is the real deal--realistic, compelling and exciting."
Topping the list were Panasonic plasma 3D sets. Three of its TV's rated highest in 3D picture quality based on viewing of recorded sports, 3D Blu-ray discs and 3D "test patterns." They had the least ghosting, followed by TV's from LG and Samsung. The LCD set that came closest to matching plasmas for lack of ghosting was Sony's.
Among the things CR suggested buyers contemplate before taking the 3D plunge is the need for special glasses (specific to each manufacturer, though a universal pair is now available) and, in Sony's case, an optional transmitter that sync's the glasses to the set; the relative lack of content. It also points to the relative lack of content, citing some ESPN and DirecTV content and discs, but saying it is "quite limited."
The magazine also says that 3D is not for everyone, citing possible eyestrain and headaches. It advises consumers to heed manufacturers warnings and says "the potential effects of long-term 3D viewing are still being studied."
But that did not translate into an automatic caution light about the new technology. "Buying a 3D TV right now makes the most sense for early adopters who want to experience 3D in their homes, or for someone who's currently in the market for a new TV and thinks they'd like to have 3D capability in the near future," the magazine said. To that point, it advised getting a set that rated well in 2D picture quality, which in this case was all of those tested "with one exception," said the magazine.
For those who don't want to jump in, however, CR looked at the upside: "Those who want wait will have more models to choose from, possibly at lower prices, and more 3D content to watch."