Many Still on Sidelines on 3-D Television
This week I joined 126,000 of my geekiest friends in Las Vegas to see the latest and greatest high-tech toys and tools at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
With11.6 million square feet of show floor space, you can find everything on display at CES, from the weird and absurd to the truly useful.
This year, I saw white rabbits that change color to visually depict things such as the weather and/or stock market, beer keg computers, dancing robotic floor cleaners and Lady Gaga sunglasses that capture video. Panasonic featured a 152-inch television that could be purchased for only $500,000.
While it is always interesting to see the unusual, this show is really about trends. And this year, there were several strong trends.
The first of these is something that we saw started at last year’s CES, when all the major television manufacturers announced their support for 3-D television.
Although the public didn’t rush to purchase 3-D televisions during the past year, manufacturers are continuing with their push to the world of 3-D.
Unfortunately, each manufacturer has its own way of implementing 3-D, so the 3-D glasses are not interchangeable, meaning that if you have a Samsung 3-D television, you must have Samsung glasses. And this year, the situation with 3-D glasses is starting to get even more complicated.
Several advocacy groups have recently started warning about eye-related problems caused by viewing 3-D images. Many 3-D televisions, including those by Samsung, Sony and Panasonic, currently come with health warnings.
Because of these health alerts, LG announced at the show that it will move from active shutter glasses to polarized glasses, which will be cheaper and supposedly better for your eyes. That means if you want to make an intelligent purchase of a 3-D television, you will not only have to look at the quality of the image, but will also have to consider the type of glasses and the effect that they will have on your eyes.
You might think that all you have to do is wait for the technology to be good enough to project 3-D videos that don’t require wearing glasses, but that won’t solve the problem either. Recently, Nintendo issued a warning to parents to not let their children use their upcoming 3DS gaming device in 3-D mode because of potential damage to developing eye — and the Nintendo 3DS gaming device will not require any glasses.
At CES this year, Toshiba was also showing off a new technology that allows you to view 3-D images without glasses. I tried this out and was extremely disappointed. You had to be directly in front of the image to see it in 3-D. Taking even a half a step to the side resulted in seeing double images. On top of that, simply standing and watching this 3D television, made me dizzy.
I spoke to a Samsung representative, who said Samsung has lowered the premium cost on a 3-D television from $600 last year to only $200 this year. He said that because of this, Samsung expects 60 percent of its television sales in 2011 to be from 3-D televisions. Samsung obviously believes that many people will be willing to pay an extra $200 to get 3-D on their television. That, however, is yet to be proven.
The bottom line is that the manufacturers will be pushing hard on 3-D televisions this year, but it is really up to the consumer to accept or reject this technology.
One side effect to this extreme push of a technology that is not quite ready for prime time may be one that the manufacturers haven’t accurately assessed.
Many of us may just stand on the sidelines and not make a television purchase until this 3-D thing shakes out. So it is yet to be determined whether 3-D television will be a big trend this year or not.
The other trend that I saw at CES this year, however, is already a sure thing. The move to tablet computing and e-readers is coming quickly. The extreme popularity of the Apple iPad, which is both a tablet and an e-reader, has assured that this trend will continue.
Competitors in the iPad market are coming out of the walls here at CES. There are no less than 80 tablets on display. Everyone is trying to best the iPad and to find the right price point. Many of the major manufacturers such as Dell, HP, Samsung, Blackberry, Motorola and Lenovo have jumped on the tablet bandwagon as have many small manufacturers that are looking to make a big splash.
There are a variety of operating systems powering these devices, and they come in many different sizes and with many different features. If you are interested in purchasing a tablet PC, this year is sure to bring a lot of choices.
CES this year was also, not surprisingly, filled with announcements about new smart phones. Mobile devices have a big presence here with television and videos showing up on a large variety of portable devices including tablets, phones, and even wristwatches.
After attending this show, I can’t tell you without a doubt that we are getting more and more connected, that the Internet is everywhere and that if you don’t already own a portable device that accesses the Internet, you will probably own one in the near future.
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