Samsung officially announces cheapest 3D HDTV: 50-inch 720p plasma for $1,000

Samsung officially announces cheapest 3D HDTV: 50-inch 720p plasma for $1,000

Summary: In addition to showing off the first portable 3D Blu-ray player and the largest 3D LED-backlit HDTV, Samsung also announced a new line of 3D plasmas, including one for $1,099.99 (list price) that's the cheapest 3D HDTV on the market.

TOPICS: Samsung

In addition to showing off the first portable 3D Blu-ray player and the largest 3D LED-backlit HDTV, Samsung also announced a new line of 3D plasmas, including one for $1,099.99 (list price) that's the cheapest 3D HDTV on the market.

Unlike other 3D sets on the market, the PN50C490 is only 720p, though it's 50 inches in size. That explains how Samsung is able to price it close to the magic $1,000 price point. ( already has it for pre-order at $989.) It wasn't announced whether the set would ship with a pair of 3D glasses, but it does come with 600Hz subfield motion. It will be available sometime this month, as will a pair of pricier 1080p 3D plasmas -- the $1,599.99 50-inch PN50C680 and the $2,299.99 58-inch PN58C680.

Are 3D and a cheaper price tag worth giving up 1080p for? According to Engadget's eyes-on first impressions, the difference in image quality between the 720p plasma and its 1080p brethren was quite noticeable. Is the $1,000 price point enough to convince you to try 3D TV?

Topic: Samsung

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  • 3D fuzz

    In my opinion 3D is just a fuzz. To put things into perspective, let's get a few things straight.

    why did most people choose to switch from tape to CD? Not because of quality. Not because of durability. It was because they could skip between to three good songs on a 12-song CD quickly.

    why did people switch to DVD? Easy archiving and sharing, no need to rewind, small storage, and for some, superior quality.

    why did people switch to HD? Quality? Maybe for some. For most because they like FLAT panels. CRTs are huge and with flat panels you can make a living room look *nice*

    Now let's look at 3D. Why would people switch to 3D? Do they like waring glasses? No. Do they like getting headaches? No. Better immersion in the film? Maybe...

    The biggest advantage of 3D sets is that they will directly enable 3D games, and multiplayer gaming on a single set without splitting the screen. That's a nice advantage, you essentially double your screen size and you get a much better gaming experience. 3D games are also amazing, specially 1st player shooting games.

    3D TV? They will only succeed if marketing does. As for the technology no one really cares much.
    • Great points about 3D


      I just wanted to say that you make some great points. They are well articulated and backed up. I hadn't thought too much about multiplayer gaming benefits on a single TV, but I can just picture playing Madden and my opponent can't see what plays I am even looking at, right?

      As someone who is in the business, I have been testing 3D TVs. The depth of image is great, but the active glasses are tiring. A JVC model we recently tested that uses passive glasses (like what you use in the movie theater) was a much more enjoyable experience. I hear the same thing from EVERYONE that talks about 3D though "I am not wearing glasses to watch TV, or what if I have 3 kids, I need 5 pair of $150 glasses?"

      Good points though. The technology is "new", and we will see it progress to no glasses. That is the holy grail right now.
  • 720p vs 1080p Display -- It all depends on format!

    When comparing a 720p verses a 1080p TV, it is natural to assume "bigger is better." But is this difference worth the cost?

    First, all the newer consumer 3D TVs I have seen to date display 3D content at 120 frames per second(fps), alternating between Left & Right images. Each eye "sees" 60 fps.

    Often with the higher price point of a 1080p there is improved video processing in the video pipeline. It may have the ability to interpolate frames when converting 24fps (48fps for a 3D TV) content to the displayed 60/120fps rather than use a 3:2 pull-down scheme, for example.

    For a 3D TV, this 48fps conversion to the displayed 120fps would require twice the performance of a 2D TV since the TV will be processing Left & Right images separately. Thus the simpler (and cheaper) 3:2 pull-down method would only require a Left & Right image buffer, but a frame interpolation implementation for smoother video would require either a video processor with twice the performance or two video processors.

    Assuming that the video processing is identical between the 720p and 1080p TVs, the next step is to examine the video format used for 3D.

    Full 1080p in 3D is only supported in HDMI 1.4 at 48fps. (24 Left/Right pairs per second) The only widely available source for 1080p48 in HDMI 1.4 is a 3D enabled BluRay player with an appropriately encoded 3D movie. There are no consumer broadcasts natively available in this format.

    All other formats are lower than 1080p48 resolution. These other formats include 1080p60 SBS (Side by Side) in which a left & right image are horizontally squeezed into one standard 1080p frame, and 720p120 which alternates Left/Right images. Both of these formats are great for sports since they do not require any frame rate scaling, but the frame rate comes at the cost of resolution. The trade off of frame rate over resolution works well in fast action source material since the eye and brain cannot process the detail quickly, while the viewer will likely experience eyestrain if the frame rate is too low.

    In the end, a $1000 720p 3DTV is likely to perform satisfactorily with all the broadcast material currently available, but it will fall short of a well equipped 1080p 3DTV with high quality video processing when viewing 3D movies from BluRay.
    • RE: Samsung officially announces cheapest 3D HDTV: 50-inch 720p plasma for $1,000

      @TerryNorton You addressed only 3D material, which by all accounts will be a small niche for years. There is much 1080p material available on Blu-Ray, and 1080i via cable. This material looks noticeably poorer on 720p sets, whether they're 3D or not.

      For the vast majority consumers, most viewing will be of non-3D material and downgrading to 720p is a big and visible step down.
  • cheaper and bigger 3D TVs

    You may have missed the Mitsubishi DLPs that are 3D-Ready or 3D-capable (depending on the model) and are cheaper...of course, depending where you buy.
    • RE: cheaper and bigger 3D TVs

      When operating in 3D mode, DLP rear projection TVs (RPTVs) are always displaying 1/2 resolution. The DLP device is 960x1080. For normal 2D viewing it is "flashed" at the user at two slightly different angles to get an effect 1920 horizontal resolution. For 3D operation, the first flash is for the left eye, and the second is for the right eye. Both flashes are only 960x1080.

      Additionally, many DLP RPTVs do not provide proper scaling from 720p to 1080p for 3D operation. Thus 720p120 3D content must be viewed in a native 1:1 format with true black frame all the way around the image.

      The older DLP 3D capable RPTVs require the input signal to be a "checkerboard" format. This format is not widely supported by BluRay players and set top boxes. Also, the "checkerboard" format cannot be easily scaled from 720p to 1080p to allow for full screen display.

      In specific applications, DLP RPTVs provide a great value. Unfortunately, the earlier models are not equipped to handle the currently available formats for 3D content.