Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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8/23/2010
07:08 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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3D TV Must Be Stopped

Of all the bad ideas on the technology scene -- and there are plenty -- 3D television is one of the worst. Like the gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater that comedian Steve Martin extolled decades ago, it's an unnecessary invention.

Of all the bad ideas on the technology scene -- and there are plenty -- 3D television is one of the worst. Like the gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater that comedian Steve Martin extolled decades ago, it's an unnecessary invention.Of course TV manufacturers would like to have some new technology that would prompt people who bought flat-screen TVs a few years ago to buy new 3D TVs. But 3D isn't the right technology to revive market demand. A Google TV or Apple TV might fit that bill, but not a 3D TV, at least until there's a device that's capable of generating convincing visual holograms to match those depicted in Star Wars or Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Plenty of people apparently disagree. A recent study by consultancy Altman Vilandrie & Company and research firm Peanut Labs found that over 50% of people who have seen 3D movies say they plan to buy a 3D TV within the next three years.

Frankly, I find that baffling. It's a rare movie that is made better by the presence of 3D technology. James Cameron's Avatar was more fun, I'll concede, in 3D. But largely that was a function of high production values and seeing the film in a theater.

In general, 3D does nothing to enhance storytelling and in many cases detracts from it, by diminishing picture quality, by interfering with the viewer's vision, and by hindering the viewer's suspension of disbelief -- the artificiality of 3D, particularly on a TV, calls attention to itself.

A few notable filmmakers apparently share my disdain for 3D, according to a recent New York Times article, not to mention 450 out of 450 attendees of Comic-Con, who said in a survey that they did not want to see a 3D version of the upcoming film adaptation of "The Hobbit."

3D belongs in gaming, where first-person immersion actually works, and in a few IMAX and blockbuster films. But 3D TV is like a 3D book -- also know as a pop-up book -- it's a clumsy novelty despite the fact that kids will get a kick out of it for a while. TV makers should focus on more interesting, meaningful innovations.

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