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LG Promotes 3D TVs with Passive Glasses - Are They Better Than The Active Kind?

Posted by: , 18:24 AEDT, Mon January 17, 2011

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LG are going to make more 3D TVs using passive glasses. We examine what this means, and what it means for the consumer

LG has revealed that almost half of their new TV line-ups for 2011 will feature 3D systems that use passive glasses, as opposed to the active glasses system currently employed by most other manufacturers, including Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and yes, even LG.

Active glasses work by quickly blocking the left and right lenses, to match the quickly freshing frames on the TV, so that at each moment in time, each eye is only seeing one set of images, which offers a different perspective of the action compared to the other set (of images). And when you brain combines both set of images, you get the 3D effect.

Polarized 3D glasses

With passive 3D systems, more like the ones used in cinemas, the TV screen does all the work, and the glasses are polarized so that each eye (out of each differently polarised lens) will see different images, and again, producing the 3D effect.

Active glasses systems rely on more expensive glasses that are heavier, and the quick refresh can cause more nausea and headaches than their passive counterpart. Passive glasses are cheaper, but it makes the TVs more expensive, and the resolution is also lowered, compared to the full 1080p offered by the active experience.

LG's new film patterned retarder process now ensures passive TVs can be made more cheaply, and LG believes that there is a market for these types of TVs.

But for the average consumer, does this mean yet another format war? Thankfully, not. While the active and passive TVs and glasses are incompatible with each other, that's already the case anyway, with most manufacturers not producing active glasses that are compatible with other TVs (although this may soon change, when a unified standard is introduced). But more importantly, the 3D Blu-ray and TV you feed into the TV will be standard, and it's up to individual TVs to figure out how to produce the 3D effect, so there's no need to ditch your brand new 3D Blu-ray player or your $300 copy of Avatar, if you do decide to go down the passive route.

So this means that with the 3D Blu-ray and the various 3D broadcast standards, manufacturers are free to experiment with different 3D display technologies without the problem of incompatibility popping up, including TVs without needing glasses at all, or even this innovative, but possibly extremely dangerous, system.

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