3D TV FAQ

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June 10, 2010 by yogi2raj

3D TV FAQ
The recent flood of news about new 3D TVs, itself spurred by the hype surrounding the 3D release of “Avatar,” has raised a few questions. This article, arranged in the tried-but-true manner of “Frequently Asked Questions,” attempts to answer them.

When this FAQ was first published in January 2010 we polled the six major TV makers that announced new 3D models–LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and Vizio–to help with some answers. We also gleaned information from enthusiast sites like AVS forum and EngadgetHD. In the last couple of months more details have been announced, and we’ve had more in-depth conversations on the subject. You’ll find many updates incorporated into the answers below, which represent our best current information on the subject.

This article is targeted toward people looking for an introduction to modern 3D TV technology. If you’re an advanced reader just looking for the latest news your best bet is going straight to CNET’s 3D TV resource guide. And if you have anything to add to this article, feel free to leave a comment or at least vote in the poll.

1. What is 3D TV?

3D TV is a generic term for a display technology that lets home viewers experience TV programs, movies, games, and other video content in a stereoscopic effect. It adds the illusion of a third dimension, depth, to current TV and HDTV display technology, which is typically limited to only height and width (“2D”).

2. How can you get 3D from a 2D screen?

A 3D TV or theater screen showing 3D content displays two separate images of the same scene simultaneously, one intended for the viewer’s right eye and one for the left eye. The two full-size images occupy the entire screen and appear intermixed with one another–objects in one image are often repeated or skewed slightly to the left (or right) of corresponding objects in the other–when viewed without the aid of special 3D glasses. When viewers don the glasses, they can perceive these two images as a single 3D image.

Here’s what a 3D video game looks like without the glasses.
(Credit: Jeff Bakalar/CNET)

The system relies on a visual process called stereopsis. The eyes of an adult human lie about 2.5 inches apart, which lets each eye see objects from slightly different angles. The two images on a 3D TV screen present objects from two slightly different angles as well, and when those images combine in the viewer’s mind with the aid of the glasses, the illusion of depth is created.

3. How is the new 3D TV technology different from older 3D?

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