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3D TV's and 3D Technology

Media hacks, home automation and theater room design are one of my hobbies and interests among the million other things I get involved in. Now that the top manufacturers have released their entry level 3D TV's and the release of Avatar and other 3D rich content on their way to blu-ray I decided to put a 3D FAQ here for future reference when I shop for a 3D TV or implement it with Runco 3D projector some day. I took these FAQ's from Engadget and have eliminated many of the questions that I feel may not interest the lay reader.

What are the different 3D content formats?

Just like HD has different resolutions, 3D has different formats. There is frame compatible that is backwards compatible with set-top boxes, then there is the new MVC AVC codec that requires new equipment but it does double the resolution. It is the left image plus the difference for the right.

Side by Side 3D of the Masters

Isn't frame compatible half the resolution of HD?
No, it's actually the exact same resolution as HD. Sure it would be better if the resolution was doubled, but it still isn't less resolution than HD.

3D formats
What resolution is 3D in?
Both 3D formats support 1080p and 720p. Blu-ray is 1080p 24 per eye or 720p 60 per eye. 3D broadcast is 1080i 30 per eye or 720p 60 per eye.

Is HDMI 1.4a required for 3D?
No, in fact many HDMI 1.3 cables, switches and other equipment will work with multiple 3D formats, but none are guaranteed to work. HDMI 1.4a equipment is guaranteed to work with most 3D formats.

So if I buy a new 3DTV, what else do I need to watch 3D via cable or satellite?
Since most existing set-tops support frame compatible 3D, you won't need anything else. But until yourbox gets a firmware update that'll make it 3D aware, you'll need to manually select the format.

How much bandwidth does 3D need?
Frame compatible 3D uses the same as HD, but DirecTV says it's more efficient to compress. 3D Blu-ray uses about 50 percent more throughput with a higher maximum bit rate of 60Mbps.

Who cares about 3D, I want 1080p at 60 fps.
We all do and in fact cable and satellite plan on delivering 1080p60 per eye eventually, but it'll require a new set-top box -- no word on which codec will be used, but you'll be able to watch it in 2D too.

Will a 3D channel require a full 6Mhz QAM channel?

No, not at all. Even the ultimate 1080p/60 per eye would easily fit into half a QAM channel. You see since the set-top needs upgraded anyways, it'll be upgraded to one that supports some variation of H.264, which is much more efficient than MPEG2 that's used today.

How will 24p 3D be displayed on a 240hz HDTV?
Sony 3DTVs display 24p 3D at 120hz per eye, so each frame will be shown 5 times.
Panasonic 3DTVs will display 24p 3D at 96hz per eye, so each frame will be shown 3 times.

Are there even any 3D channels?
Other than a few 3D specials there aren't any channels live yet, ESPN will launch its 3D channel this Summer on DirecTV -- no one else has announced carriage yet. DirecTV also plans to launch a few 3D channels this Summer including a PPV channel and a variety channel. All will use the frame compatible 3D format but will probably be different resolutions (ESPN is expected to be 720p60, might be some 1080p24 PPV movies too).

So... sports and movies, is that it?
No, Discovery and Sony are working to launch a 3D channel next year that might be called

When are we going to start seeing 3D Blu-ray Discs for sale?
No firm dates yet, but Blu-ray movies should start shipping this Summer, in the meantime demo material comes with Samsung and Panasonic's 3D kits.

Do 3DTVs cost a lot more than 2DTVs?
No, not really. In fact the first generation 3DTVs from Samsung and Panasonic are actually cheaper than their comparable-older 2D versions.

Older TVs can't be upgraded to play 3D. Even the latest 120Hz displays can't accept the signal and there's no IR emitter to sync the glasses.

Can I use the 3D glasses as sunglasses?
Well you can do whatever you want, but while the glasses do block light they don't really work as sunglasses.

If they block light, does that mean the TV is dimmer?
Kind of, displays actually automatically crank up the brightness to compensate for the dimming of the glasses, but the glasses do improve the display's perceived black levels.

Can I upgrade the firmware in my Blu-ray player to support 3D?
Only the PS3 is getting an update, most older hardware can't be updated to support the new MVC version of AVC that is used to encode 3D.

Can I watch 2D on a 3DTV?

Yes of course, you don't have to watch 3D all the time. The newer HDTVs have better 2D performance as well and you can even watch 3D content in 2D if you want.

Can I watch this new 3D content on the 120Hz HDTV I just bought?
No, older TVs can't / won't be upgraded to be 3D compatible. Even the latest 120Hz displays can't accept the signal and there is no IR emitter to sync the glasses. 

So what my Mitsubishi or Samsung DLP has been doing 3D for while, so can I just pick up a 3D Blu-ray player and enjoy?
Nope, DLPs use the checkerboard 3D format which needs a converter, but Mitsubishi does have one coming for an estimated $100. In addition some 3D Blu-ray players like the Panasonic 3DT-300 will output checkerboard 3D -- thanks snickering hound.

Cheers till the next time

Sam Kurien

Source: Engadget


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