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Television in the third dimension?

Television in the third dimension?

TV companies are going ga-ga about 3Ds. But should you really look at buying one ahead of the curve?

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas every January is a tradeshow of electronics and over the past few years it has been a place where flat-panel manufacturers have been showcasing the latest in display technology. Until 2008, it was all about "bigger is better". The big arms race reached ridiculous proportions two years ago when a couple of manufacturers carted in 100-inch-plus displays. To put that in perspective, those screens were larger than the average single-bed. And while people loved having large screens, it hardly made sense as few people had rooms large enough for such televisions.

So, in 2009, the manufacturers decided to go the thin route. Much like Kate Moss who became a role model for young girls waiting to emulate the emaciated look, the takeaway from CES 2009 was that one-inch thick TVs were too thick. This wisdom conveniently forgot that almost everyone who owned a tube-television knew that even a "thick" display panel was a tenth of the thickness of a small tube television.

So, this year, in an attempt to make you buy a new TV, the display manufacturers have climbed on to the 3D bandwagon. Aided in no small part by James Cameron's massive hit Avatar, which brought 3D out of the realm of animation films into the mainstream (and how), we were told that 3D is the future of TV. We were also told that we should buy a 3D TV immediately. Nobody was really told that, but the subliminal messages were quite clear. So, should you buy a 3D TV the day it is launched?

Frankly, no. In no small part because you will still need to wear those goofy glasses. Secondly, you will need to spend a lot of money on goofy glasses for everyone who wants to watch 3D content. Though, keep in mind that all 3D TVs are very good highdefinition 2D TVs as well. If you have ever taken off those glasses while watching a 3D movie you realise that you can't make out anything on screen. That said, the glasses will be needed on a 3D, today or tomorrow, and are actually the least of the reasons why you shouldn't buy a 3D TV just yet.

The biggest reason is content. You will need to buy a Blu-Ray Disc player to play back the 3D movie, and those that will feature the latest iteration of the Blu-Ray software do not come cheap. Then there's the fact that while James Cameron might have opened the door to 3D, very few movies are being released in this format just now. George Lucas has said that he will re-release the Star Wars series in 3D and Harry Potter's final two installments might be in 3D as well.

But that still does not add up to much. High-Definition (HD) TVs really took off after TV broadcasts started in HD in developed markets and when the current generation game consoles started displaying HD images. Gaming companies are not talking of 3D games just yet and while Sky Sports in the UK ran a trial Arsenal-Manchester United game in 3D (to rave reviews) in January, it was limited to only a few bars.

As they say, content is king. When the first 3D TVs come out later this year in India, you'll have a barrage of advertising persuading you to buy one. Maybe it might even spur Bollywood into making 3D movies. But as good as 3D TVs may be, we would seriously suggest that you wait a while. And if you still want your share of 3D goodness, go visit the local cinema house near you.