Friday, January 09, 2009

CES 2009: Panasonic 103 inch Full HD 3D Plasma Details

Michael here. Panasonic is really leading the charge for bringing the 3D theatrical experience into the home, both technically and in getting the word out.

According to information sheets at CES, Panasonic's system works from a single 50 GB Blu-ray disc (using a modified Blu-ray player), feeding the 3DTV successive Full HD left and right-eye images at 60 frames per second apiece, for a total of 120 frames per second. That's significantly better than any other system currently being demoed.

They are utilizing the same 103 inch Plasma 3DTV that they showed at the 3D Entertainment Summit, this time showing some extra clips, including some spectacular footage of Aliens of the Deep, Ghost of the Abyss, sporting events and music videos from PACE.

Sony is refusing to discuss the technology behind their CES 3DTV demo, which uses polarized glasses, stressing that they do not want people thinking that they have chosen to pursue any particular 3DTV design. Samsung is using shutter glasses in their demo, but are emphasizing their technology's ability to convert 2D content (films, games) to 3D in real-time instead of duplicating the theatrical experience in the home.

I personally agree with Panasonic that shutter glasses are the way to go for 3DTV's. In every single case that I've seen, 3DTV systems employing polarized glasses have a picture that looks substantially below 1080p resolution. This is likely due to the polarizing layer on the screen polarizing only half the horizontal lines of the image at a time, effectively cutting the resolution in half. Until passive 3DTV systems figure out a way to show successive 1080p left and right-eye images without sacrificing resolution or framerate, the shutter glasses method will be the way to go. Although polarized glasses systems (such as REAL D) are ideal for the multiple-viewer theater environment (it is more logistically difficult for theaters to manage hundreds of pairs of the relatively expensive shutter glasses as opposed to the super cheap recyclable plastic polarized ones), it seems wise to uses shutter glasses in the home, as this will eliminate the need to expensively modify HDTV's to be capable of polarizing their images. It makes sense to me to just buy a pair of shutter glasses and a base station that will synch to any TV.

I really hope that Panasonic manages to get its system (albeit likely using a smaller TV) into the home as soon as possible. I'm optimistic that we will have at least a de-facto standard for 3DTV by the end of 2009, and I think that Panasonic is very well positioned to become that standard.

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