Forget HD. The Future is 3D.

Posted: February 1, 2010 in TV
Tags: , , , , ,

If you are considering purchasing an HD TV, don’t. Or do, but don’t expect it to be the last TV you buy this decade. It’s your wallet.

I bought a TV five or six years ago. A 32” inch Sony WEGA, one of the last of the cathode ray tube jobs. I was well aware that technology was changing, but I didn’t care. In fact, there are only two occasions when I regretted this purchase: once when I moved house, and once when I had to bring it to the shop. That’s because the TV weighs slightly more than a Mini Cooper, and is only slightly smaller. Moving it requires that doors be disconnected from their hinges, and that I run the risk of dislocating several discs in my spine.

Otherwise I am quite happy with the TV. I bought it at a time when LED and plasma TVs had just come on to the market. They were the high-profile, big budget items. At the time, however, the picture quality was not up to a standard that warranted a three or four thousand euro asking price. Instead, I walked into Power City one Saturday and gazed across the football pitch at the back wall that was lined with televisions. I found the one with the clearest, sharpest picture and bought that for less than half the price of a flat screen. I took it home and plugged it into my Sky box. One of the Star Wars Movies was on, “Attack of the Clones”. The picture resolution was such that I immediately became airsick and had to sit on the couch before I fell over. Later we watched “Pulp Fiction”. At one point I was convinced that John Travolta was actually inside my television, and that someone had removed the glass. That’s how impressed I was by the picture quality compared to what I had been watching.

A few years have gone by. HD TV is here, to a certain extent. All the flat screen bugs have been worked out, and the HD bugs are being resolved. The term “Home Cinema” is actually coming to represent something of quality that the average person can afford. And when necessary, the box can be lifted easily and brought to the repair shop, provided you have a hatch back that can take a 50” screen. After years of waiting to be impressed, I’m finally starting to get there.

But am I impressed enough to trade in the Sony WEGA? That, my friends, is the wrong question. Here’s why. I was just thumbing through a newspaper in which I saw an article about how Sky Sports ran a test of 3D television yesterday. A pub in Drumcondra was one of the venues chosen for the test. All the patrons, including former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern (it’s his local), were wearing 3D glasses and enjoying the NEXT BIG THING that is “the next best thing to being there”.

Can mass production be far behind? In a year or two, just in time for Christmas, there will be first generation sets that some people will absolutely need to own. Then there will be better-quality, second and third generation sets that are worth buying. Then Sky will actually start broadcasting selected channels in 3D and HD.

I realize it will take at least five or six years to sort out the logistics and work out the bugs. Then I expect to be impressed enough to retire my old, 2D TV and cough up the bucks for a fourth generation of the new technology, which will have come down by at least 400% from the first-generation price. In the meantime, I reckon I’ve got at least ten good years left in the Sony WEGA. I can wait. I’m a patient man, and I don’t plan on moving house anytime soon.

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