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March 31, 2010

3D TV Sales Research + the Future

ENTERTAINMENT/TECHNOLOGY - I just got back from interviewing some staff at Best Buy and Future Shop (if I had to choose I'd recommend Best Buy) regarding the 3D HDTVs that are currently on sale, the first 3D TVs available in Canada.

Regardless of location the product and price is the same:

Samsung 1080p 240 Hz 55" 3D LED HDTV is $3699.99

3D Glasses are not included and cost $449.99 each... so for a family of four that will set you back $5499.95 + 13% tax ($6214.94).

Worse, the glasses are apparently electronic and thus a necessity, otherwise the screen will be pretty blurry.

So far however its not a lot of families buying 3D TVs... according to sales staff 90% of purchases are by men, usually between the ages of 25 and 35 and individual stores in Toronto are selling an average of one 3D TV / day. (Not bad when you consider what a new product it is and just how ridiculously expensive it is.)

Comparatively you could get a regular LG 1080p 240 Hz 55" LED HDTV for $2499.95 + tax. Or if you're not so obsessed with size you can get something smaller for a fraction of the price.

The silly thing is the only difference between the Samsung 3D HDTV and the regular LG HDTV is the fact the Samsung has plug slots for plugging in your electric 3D glasses.

When you go to the movie theatre the glasses provided there aren't electric. Technology wise there's no need for them to be electric. A smarter route would be to have normal 3D glasses, a normal high definition TV, and a 3D compatible Blue-Ray/DVD player.

Note: In theory when you leave the movie theatre you're supposed to give your 3D glasses back but many people conveniently forget. The new 3D glasses aren't those cheap paper ones from the 1950s, but are plastic and reasonably well-made.

The Samsung 3D TV may be nice, but its price gouging people who are technologically NAIVE and gullible. More 3D TVs are expected to hit the Canadian market in the coming months and we should see a dramatic difference in both price and the type of technology being used.

In related news...

Canadian 3D graphics whiz Chris Bond is currently in the process of patenting a software program which allows him to edit and convert 2D films into 3D films. Normally 3D films are show with special 3D cameras, but with the success of the film "Avatar" the makers of "Clash of the Titans" decided 9 weeks ago to hire a Canadian company (which Chris Bond works for) to convert the film into 3D. Its not a cheap process, the cost to the filmmakers was $5 million USD.

While Chris Bond does work for the company, the patent pending is registered in his name and if successfully patented will quickly make him one of the richest men in the computer graphics industry since 3D movies are being touted as "the next big thing". The fact the technology can be used to convert older films into 3D suggests we could see a whole slew of classic/popular films converted to 3D in the coming years... and no excuse for new blockbuster films from being made 3D too.

The next Harry Potter film, Indiana Jones V, etc will all be made 3D. Sounds good to me, but television companies like Samsung need to get their act together and design 3D TVs that don't need electric glasses.

And then there's the issue of 3D video games... a realm that is certain to suck more money out of men between the ages of 25 and 35. 3D TV is here to stay, but I don't recommend people rush out and buy the first available sets because the technology used may be changing quickly.

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