Coming soon to your home: 3D TV - if you can afford it

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 February, 2010, 12:00am

With Avatar smashing box office records in Hong Kong, it's clear we're a city that loves 3D.

So there's probably more than a few million people out there who will relish the news that we could be kicking back at home watching 3D movies this summer.

JVC released the first 3D television in January, and now Sony has entered the race, and is set to release its own 3D-enhanced TVs, Blu-ray players, digital cameras and video game players, just as air-conditioners reach their peak in July.

Samsung, Panasonic, LG and TCL are among brands which revealed upcoming 3D products at January's International Consumer Electronics Show in the United States.

They have yet to announce when the products will go on sale in Hong Kong.

At the moment, no local broadcaster offers 3D television programmes. So, for JVC's 46-inch model, which costs HK$71,800, the most commonly available option to experience its 3D function is via Avatar's Xbox 360 game.

Sony said its new TVs will allow 2D content to be transformed into 3D. More movie titles, such as animation Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, will also come in 3D Blu-ray formats this summer.

A Sony 52-inch 3D TV will cost less than HK$79,800, the price of the current top high-definition TV, the marketing manager of Sony's HD home entertainment department, Benny Yu Ka-ming, said.

Viewers will have to wear special glasses, but they will be different to those used in the cinema.

The 3D effect on TV is expected to be higher definition than in cinemas, Yu said.

Sunday Morning Post donned the glasses and checked out a 3D TV at Sony Style in Tsim Sha Tsui yesterday. The glasses need batteries to work and sometimes slip from the nose.

However, the nature documentary viewed by the Post on 3D TV was impressive, and with primates climbing out of the screen it offered much greater depth than normal television. But the animals were more of a visual treat than the humans viewed on a variety show, perhaps because the movement was less dramatic.

Animations in video games - a spacecraft racing game and a baseball game - were thrilling. The colours were more vivid, with the different layers providing more realistic action as the characters moved through the game. However, the depth of movement was at times intense on the eyes, and sometimes shadows remained on the screen after a character had moved on.

'It's very good and it works better with cartoons,' said Candy Leung Ching-wan, as her four-year-old son remained glued to the game demo, adding that going 3D would only be an option if the price fell to HK$40,000.

Sam Leung, 22, commented that some of the cars shadows remained on-screen after vehicles had moved on. 'I watch movies in cinemas and I rarely play video games. I don't need 3D for watching news on TV,' SP Wong, in his 40s, said.

He said he would not get a 3D TV unless his old one broke.

Prices of HD TVs more than halved only a few years after coming onto the market in the late 90s. According to Yu, new gimmicks are needed to attract buyers.

A Fortress spokesperson said 3D products could hit the stores in the second quarter. 'We estimate the selling price will be slightly higher than the current top-model products,' she said.

A Samsung spokesperson said the brand's 3D TV will be sold in Hong Kong, but she did not offer an exact date. The distributor for Panasonic said it was unsure of the details for its local release.