3D movies and HDTVs are supposed to be the cutting edge. Right now 3D in the home is a bit of a challenge because the displays are new and 3D content landscape is sparse. There is the added cost for 3D glasses needed for most 3D displays. Falling prices and incorporation of 3D support as a standard feature will make 3D viewing more common next year.
There is a little bit of 3D content is available on Blu-ray disks and 3D games but it appears that 3D content may finally be coming out on a regular basis. Set top boxes will soon deliver 3D sports.
I recently spoke with Reed Johnson, President and CEO Tru3D, about 3D technology as well as their solution for Mitsubishi and Samsung DLP HDTVs. Mitsubishi still sells large screen DLP HDTVs while Samsung has discontinued theirs to concentrate on LCD HDTVs.
Wong: 3D HDTVs are now the norm but 3D technology has been around for decades. TRU3D has been on the cutting edge. How have you seen 3D technology change over the years?
Johnson: The biggest change we've seen over the last 5 years is acceptance by the players in the market that they all can not control 100% of the 3D market. When TRU3D began every manufacturer considered their the key component and worked to prevent the market from growing outside of their innovation. Now the suppliers have realized that they have to work together to make 3D happen and consequently have reduced the various barriers to entry erected over the past decade to make complete 3D systems that can handle a variety of signals on a range of displays.
Wong: 3D viewing can be done using passive approaches including the use of polarized or color filer glasses but most of the 3D TVs available now utilize active LCD shutter glasses. Are these all using the same technology and are the glasses interchangeable?
Johnson: 3D Glasses are like keys to your car, each car needs a unique pair of 3D glasses. There is some interchangeability of 3D glasses and Universal 3D glasses are now becoming available from XpanD and Monster. Universal glasses help solve a retailers supply issues but does nothing for a customer who will want to buy eyewear based on its comfort as they define it. Our internal sales data shows that customer will delay purchase if they do not like the comfort or style of the eyewear. Until the display industry realizes that by making brand specific mode
Wong: What are the different types of 3D display formats available and what are their advantages?
Johnson: There are 4 main types of display modes available today, above below, side by side, checkered board and frame sequential. The first 3 formats are full speed but half resolution image modes. Think of a 8x10 photo that you now want to make 3D. A side by side image would be the left sitting to the left of the right image. Because the 8x10 sheet is fixed each image has one-half the horizontal pixels. Above below looks just as it sounds one image above the other and checkerboard looks like a checkered board Red squares left image, black squares right image. Frame sequential is a signal format where each image is full resolution but they alternate left-right-left.... Because we have a fixed band width on cable services they currently can not provide this signal and are providing Above-Below or Side-By-Side. With the exception of PC 3D, all solutions today have the same final video performance.
Wong: What is the difference between 3D-Ready and 3D-Compatible displays?
Johnson: 3D ready and 3D compatible are often swapped around by the different manufacturers so its difficult to pin-down an industry standard. The first displays marketed as 3D-Ready are HDMI 1.3 DLP's released from 2005-2009 and are 3D only for computers. These displays predate the 3D HDMI 1.4 protocol used today by PS3 and 3D Cable companies. Mitsubishi developed a 3D adapter that converts not only the signal to the 3D format it expects but also tricks the 3D cable box or media player into thinking its hooked to a HDMI 1.4 compatible device. Newer Displays use the full 3D HDMI 1.4 protocol and are closer to plug and play 3D but still often face connectivity issues.
Wong: DLP displays that are 3D-Compatible have been available for many years. How does TRU3D turn those HDTVs into 3D
Johnson: Each display has unique requirements and needs to go 3D. TRU3D's goal for each of its solutions is to do the heavy lifting for the customer so in the end they have a simple 3D experience with as little hassle as possible.
Wong: Mitsubishi DLPs are just some of the HDTVs that TRU3D supports. What type of packages does TRU3D provide for owners of these HDTVs?
Johnson: TRU3D believes the best adapter on the market for a Mitsubishi DLP is the Mitsubishi 3D adapter kit. TRU3D distinguishes itself in the market place by providing direct customer support on their specific setup and how to work with the specific requirements of their 3D cable or other media player hardware.
Wong: How does the Misubishi adapter work?
Johnson: The Mitsubishi adapter is basically a signal converter that takes a side-by-side, above-below or frame sequential and converts the signal into a checkered board format. This is the standard DLP signal format developed by TI
Wong: Samsung discontinued their line of DLPs but these were 3D-Compatible as well. At this point Samsung is not providing 3D support. Does TRU3D provide a solution for owners of these DLP HDTVs?
Johnson: Yes, TRU3D is the only company offering support for these legacy 3D DLP customers. TRU3D has spent thousands of man hours developing, testing and working with customers globally to help support the vast combinations of 3D hardware configurations available. TRU3D offers its customers not only email support but direct phone support from its staff of 3D integration experts.
Wong: How does the 3D TV Adapter Kit for Samsung DLP 3D Ready HDTV work?
Johnson: The Samsung 3D kit works just like the Mitsubishi DLP Kit and is essentially plug and play with most users hardware configurations. The Samsung kit handles both the HDMI 1.3 to HDMI 1.4 handshake as well as the signal conversion to checkered board format.
Wong: It sounds like the HDMI Detective Plus box is configured to match a user's HDTV and other devices attached to the HDTV like a set top box or Blu-Ray player. What types of operations does the box handle?
Johnson: The HDMI box is handling the difficult handshakes between the Adapter, the multiple media players and the end users display. Its programming allows customers to have as close to as a plug'n play experience for 3D as possible.
Wong: What happens if the user needs to change the Samsung DLP or one of the devices?
Johnson: Only in the most extreme of cases will a customer change in hardware affect the TRU3D Samsung 3D-DLP Kit. In these rare instances TRU3D offers all its customers a hardware swap configured for their new system
Wong: There is a plethora of 3D compatible players coming out as well as a new collection of 3D set top boxes coming out. What challenges does TRU3D face when it comes to supporting such a wide range of hardware?
Johnson: Each display on market and player may or may not be compatible. Determining the best solution path for each 3D system and presenting that complex information in a simple informative fashion to the customer will be one of the greatest challenges TRU3D faces in the coming months. We are constantly refining and changing our approach to marketing to make the presentation of complex information as digestible as possible for each of the many types of 3D customers.?
Wong: What issues do you see with 3D technology going forward?
Johnson: We are just at the beginning of the 3D revolution and new technologies and their integration with the current hardware on market will present unique challenges. For customers they will be faced with complex choices on what is the best buy for their money. For manufactures and retailers like TRU3D understanding and educating the public about this these new technologies present constant challenges in the way we market and merchandise 3D.
Wong: What challenges will buyers face in this new 3D marketplace?
Johnson: Until standards are established and all manufacturers work together on common solutions, buyers in the 3D market will struggle to find accurate information on what products work together. Customers not only have to manage the aesthetics of the 3D eyewear but the different technology limitations of any given 3D hardware.