We’ve become painfully accustomed to the arrival of new technologies being accompanied by a damaging ‘format war’. And it’s becoming increasingly obvious that 3D is not going to escape the same fate.
For a while it all looked hunky dory. All the big brands last year seemed to have gathered around the active 3D standard, where full HD frames are delivered in sequence to each eye so fast that your brain puts them together to make a single HD 3D image.
The only quirk was that the passive approach – which uses polarising filters to simultaneously produce on the TV screen the left and right-eye information necessary to produce a 3D image – was more affordable and practical to use in pubs and clubs. This led first to a passive screen tie-up between LG and Sky for the commercial sector and then, more pertinently for us domestic consumers, the launch of a single passive 3D screen aimed at the home.
What we didn’t expect, though, was this single passive 3D consumer screen to turn into a flood. But that’s exactly what happened at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year, when LG surprised just about everyone by revealing that pretty much its entire 2011 3D LCD range was going to adopt passive technology.
LG had put together some compelling arguments for its passive CES launch, too, resulting in the sense that a potentially massive bomb had just been planted under the active 3D bandwagon.
The active camp tried to play down LG’s move at the time, but since then the rate at which the active v passive ‘tiff’ has turned into a battle royale has been nothing short of explosive. Clearly both camps have a passionate belief and a hefty financial interest in their respective technologies, but even so, the level of vitriol and claim/counter-claim that’s now going on is remarkable.
What really seems to have stirred things up are the announcements by Philips and Vizio that they will have passive screens in their ranges too, and recent claims that passive technology isn’t just a convenient and affordable way of watching 3D, but also the highest quality way.
Among the most eye-catching of these quality-based claims are suggestions that passive 3D can deliver full HD 3D pictures like active 3D can, and that passive 3D can be watched lying down while active 3D can’t.
So heated has all this become, in fact, that HDWars decided it couldn’t wait until the first official 2011 passive 3D TVs arrive in the UK. So we got our hands on an early 55in passive sample, and sat it right alongside the same-sized active 3D Samsung UE55D8000 we reviewed recently to try and form an early idea of where the 3D truth lies.