Can 3D save Blu-ray?

Can 3D save Blu-ray?

Summary: Blu-ray's problem is simple: Blu-ray's crisper picture isn't enough for recession-whacked consumers. Yet the demo I saw last week in Las Vegas was something else: beautifully detailed and very watchable high def 3D.

TOPICS: Hardware

Blu-ray's problem is simple: Blu-ray's crisper picture isn't enough for recession-whacked consumers. Yet the demo I saw last week in Las Vegas was something else: beautifully detailed and very watchable high def 3D.

That's a change you'd pay for.

Panasonic is pushing hard. The demo at this year's National Association of Broadcasters trade show was one of many 3D announcements and products. But it was the most important because in our consumer-driven economy it is the home theater, not the movie theater, that will make or break the latest 3D push.

I've played with a number of 3D displays over the years and the Panasonic blew the rest away. Other than some distortion when a leg or arm got too close the camera, the picture was the closest thing to real live I've seen on a display.

The big win: 3D sports. You can really see where the ball is on the field. It may not get rid of all those "from this angle" replays, but fans will love seeing how close a receiver's fingers are to the ball.

Panasonic is pushing the industry to settle on standards for 3D so the market can move forward. They promise that their 3D plasma screens won't cost much more than current designs. A 58" 480 Hz - meaning 240 Hz for each eye, double most LCD refresh rates - plasma is available today for $3500.

What about those bulky glasses? The LCD shutter glasses need some work for eyeglass wearers. The wireless ones are about $80 retail, while wired ones - much lighter - are about $25. With the picture quality they give most people will be fine with them.

A bigger issue for some is that not many projectors are 3D compatible and most of those that are are DLP, which typically don't give much placement flexibility. A 58" plasma is nice, but I really like my 10' screen.

The Storage Bits take HD 3D needs Blu-ray's capacity and bandwidth. The big question is whether the consumer electronics industry can get behind a single 3D standard and persuade people to buy.

As the fight between HD DVD and Blu-ray showed the engineers can lose sight of the bigger picture: consumer acceptance. The networks, producers, cable and satellite providers as well as set vendors need to cooperate. If they don't consumers will stay away.

The movie companies are doing good 3D, especially with 3D animation, but more production needs to be done. How about next year's Superbowl in 3D?

That could put 3D - and Blu-ray - over the top.

Comments welcome, of course. I'd like to see Blu-ray succeed. I hope the industry will put aside their technopartisan squabbling and give consumers something new and cool to buy.

Topic: Hardware

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  • No upgrade planned

    I already have an HD TV. Cable provides me with movies and TV shows in HD. I see no compelling reason to upgrade to Blu-ray. Maybe when my current DVD player inevitably dies, I'll go with Blu-ray.

    I am blind in one eye, so I can't see in 3D. Naturally I don't care who has the best 3D; it will be wasted on me.
    • Ummm, sports (3D or normal) on Blueray?!?

      Umm, was this just an attempt at an article, or did you accidentally press the send button before realizing that your premise is completely wrong. Nobody watches sports on Blueray.
      • 3D In a Sports Bar

        Can you see a sports bar full of people wearing 3D glasses?

        Anyay, the major sports events (and greatest viewing numbers) will be live action via satellite, cable or Free To Air, not discs you purchase at the local store.

        Not a use for Blu Ray at all.
      • Not sports on Blu-Ray

        The story referenced the Panasonic 3D screens and how sports will look fantastic on it. The main storyline though was that this 3D technology could save Blu-Ray because DVD's would not be able to hold the data to show 3D movies with this techology!
  • 58" screen? $3500?

    No and no. Don't be silly.

    It's probably safe to say that Blu-Ray will have long since been replaced by the time that 3DTV becomes mainstream (assuming it ever even does). Some places still haven't turned off their analog TV yet.
    • More like 61"? $1350?... but...

      your point is still valid. Bigger screen prices are dropping faster than the medium size screen HDTVs.
      • I don't *care* how fast big screen prices drop!

        I don't live in either a mansion or a parking lot, and so have absolutely [i]nowhere[/i] to place a screen that is larger than 32"

        That's probably my fundamental problem with HD - I literally do not have the room for a screen large enough to make HD worthwhile. And no amount of marketing by the media companies can change that.
        • Ridiculous!..

          I am disabled and can't afford a big apartment, but I can still scrape up the 1350 it takes to buy my Sammie 61" LED DLP.

          With the huge prices of the smaller sets that were out there at the time of this original story, I would have been a fool to pay that much for a smaller set!

          Why would you need 1080i/p with a little bitty 32" screen unless you were using it as a graphics monitor to a computer?

          If I'm going to pay that kind of money for a DTV then give me a big screen to see the details! I'm only 4' from my set typing this post right now, and I love it! IE 8 makes the experience even better, because it makes the browser even more amenable to the 16:9 format for the typical web-page!

          Even though I may be crippled and half blind my friends can't believe how much better it is to have an entertainment center like this, even if it is in a stuffy environment. My brother came down for memorial day and he admits this set is just right for movies entertainment, and he felt like the merchandise warehouses were ripping people off for charging the kind of money they wanted for EDTV and even standard definition for some of the prices out there then.

          Only now has 720p resolution TVs been available in the 500 to 800 dollar range in 46" or less screen sizes. Prices will undoubtedly drop further. But last year there was no way I was going to put up with the stupid market that was abound at the time.

          I have no regrets even now, as I realize I got a good value, and these sets have not changed in price every since then. There is a reason for that - superior design and value!!!
  • RE: Can 3D save Blu-ray?

    Nothing can save Blu Ray.
    • I have to agree

      The image improvement is too low to justify the wide cost difference over DVD.
      And if you don't have an huge display, you might not notice the difference at all.
      The future seems to be the downloads.
      Linux Geek
      • Blu-ray 3d

        .....and the world is flat Christo you will drop off the edge into the abyss.
        El Condor
      • Plus one...Blu-ray is dead. Get the shovels.

        Blu-ray finally won versus HDDVD and nobody even cared. I think several things are killing Blu-ray.
        First, and most important, the content creators took Blu-ray as an opportunity to rape their customers with insane media prices. Seriously? $40 for something slightly better than up-scaled DVD? I saw Disney even raised the price of their DVDs, so they could justify keeping Blu-rays even higher. Considering the blank media and the manufacturing technologies have done nothing but decrease in price, how can these companies justify their actions as anything other than pure ugly greed? People aren't stupid. They see through this crap and won't pay those prices.

        That brings me to the second reason. People can get plenty of HD content on cable now. Why should people "bend over" for the insane pricing of the media companies if their cable now includes HD channels for free? Again, people aren't stupid. Blu-rays are overpriced.

        Third, and soon to be most important, you can download HD movies straight to your video equipment for a lot less than rip-off Blu-rays cost. The pricing of these downloads is becoming reasonable. The quality is increasing. This is the future, if the studios don't get greedy and screw this up, too.

        I'm the customer they wanted to court with Blu-ray. I have a big flat panel and digital surround sound. I own about 750 DVDs. I bought HD players for both Blu-ray and HDDVD. I even bought a few HD movies before I decided to wait until the prices of discs came down to the level of DVDs. When HDDVD lost the war, I snapped up some more HDDVD movies at $5-10 each. I don't plan to buy any more Blu-ray at all, until I see them come down to a price closer to their actual value, which is $15-20 on sale. $30-40 per movie is retarded.

        When Blu-ray dies (I give it another 18 months, tops), I won't shed a single tear. I'll use what I already own until it all rots and move on. I'm sick of being gouged so the studio execs can buy another multimillion dollar mansion.
        • Ding ding ding, we have a winner

          Couldn't have said it better myself.
          • The people who dismiss Blu-ray...

            ...are the same people who own crummy audio equipment, because they don't any home-theater system costing more than couple of hundred dollars is worth the money.

            What term would be the "visual" equivalent of "tin-eared"?
          • Reading comprehension problems.

            You apparently posted to a message YOU DIDN'T EVEN READ.

            He had the equipment, and still couldn't justify the cost of the media!

            I don't have the equipment, and I would have to be stupid to go to my wife and say... Let's upgrade all our TVs, install home theater in all three public rooms that have TVs, so that we can feel justified paying $30-40 a movie...

            ...after (rightfully) smacking me upside the head, she would ask if I was "stuck on stupid".

            Sorry, but the ROI just isn't there for me or my family. Blu-ray will not be in our household for several years at least.
          • You are an idiot sir

            #1- Learn how to read. The guy has all the equipment.

            #2- I have 2 HDTVs (both 1080p) an HD-DVD player, a Blu-ray player, 7.1 SS System and my PC has a BR/HD-DVD ROM drive. Guess what?? I agree 100% with him.

            Blu-ray provides very little for double the cost over DVD. The only thing that is totally worth having in HD/BR is "Planet Earth". For everything else, upconveted is HD enough.

          • Not all Blu-rays are a huge improvement over DVD.

            Some are. It's obvious you haven't seen them, or that the equipment you own isn't capable of showing the differences.
          • Geezer attitude and Blue Ray

            <What term would be the "visual" equivalent of "tin-eared"? >

            For those who post such "elite" messages, STUPID comes to mind.

            If art in entertainment is the object, LIVE is a good option. Otherwise a TV is just a TV ... like a rose.. OK?

          • It's BLU-RAY NOT BLUE-RAY

            IT'S BLU-RAY NOT blue-ray.
        • Blue Ray is about data, not viewing

          Totally agree.

          You need to remember that Blu-Ray is only about how to cram more data on a physical object that you can sell in stores.

          The developers come up with great ideas for better sound, clearer pictures, even 3D, and this is what makes the movie/sports etc great. Blu-Ray is only the delivery package that gets all the required data into your home. Its not really that special. Blu-Ray does not give you fantastic pictures and amazing sound, it just lets you dump a huge great pile of movie data onto your lounge room player.

          Right now, a Blu-Ray disc is the easiest way to get that data home, however, we can all see the rapidly increasing capacity of broadband. High speed net access will allow you to get movies without leaving your house, and has no upper limit. This means that as the techies come up with even smarter tricks, like "3D" where you need even more data, you will eventually hit the upper limit of Blu-Ray, but not downloading.

          If you want to future-proof your system, skip Blu-Ray.