Industry Beats Drums for 3-D TV

RealD: 3-D Has Transformed Entertainment

He said the technology has come a long way since its early days and from the reaction to movies such as "Avatar" -- $1 billion in 17 days -- it's clear that there's strong consumer interest.

"3-D has really transformed entertainment around cinema," he said. "It's the natural progression of let's take it to the home."

And while 3-D was a hot topic at last year's CES, he said this is the year the business models and delivery mechanisms are really coming together.

"This is the year where people are going from demos and what could be and going from essentially concept to reality," he said. And he said given the number of Blu-ray players that already play 3-D and TVs that convert 2D to 3-D pictures, consumer adoption of 3-D would likely be faster than that of HD.

Though he acknowledged that there is some resistance to 3-D glasses, he said that younger generations are more open to the accessory.

Digital Generations More Receptive to Glasses?

Those who have grown up in a purely digital world of crisp and immersive experiences -- without telephone cords, VCRs, record players and cassette decks -- associate the glasses with a better experience and don't have the hang-ups of their older counterparts, he said.

"We do find that there's an age thing. People that are older will often say, 'Do I have to wear the glasses?' People that are younger will say 'Do I get to wear the glasses?'" he said.

But, despite the impassioned arguments in support of 3-D, some industry watchers are skeptical, saying there's still no compelling reason to move beyond 2D.

"Who is actually saying 2D is broken?" asked Scott Steinberg, publisher of technology news Web site Digital Trends. "I'm not necessarily convinced that 3-D is yet going to ignite the revolution."

Yes, the TVs are coming and, yes, the networks are launching. But, he asked, "Really, how many hours of content is that? When are we getting it? How much content?"

Given the recession and the toll it took on the consumer electronics industry, he said manufacturers are looking for something to build excitement and pull consumers back in to the market. But he said people will still want something affordable and practical.

Analysts: May Be Tough Sell for Consumers

"Realistically, I'm not seeing a lot of indications that this is something that people are going to rally behind and decide that we absolutely have to have this in their home -- they're still waiting to be convinced," he said.

But though questions remain, long-time industry watchers say the timing may be better than ever for 3-D home entertainment.

Jim Wilcox, a senior editor for electronics and technology at Consumer Reports, said he's seen 3-D TVs at CES going back 15 years and "it seems like there are a bunch of compelling reasons why this may actually take place."

But the hurdles are still there. Aside from the glasses, he said, consumers really stepped up in recent years to buy flat panel TVs and will be reluctant to go back into the marketplace without a compelling reason.

"It's going to be a tough sell for those who have just purchased one," he said.

And, of course, 3-D adoption will depend on pricing, a topic on which manufacturers are uniformly silent.

"I think what we're really seeing is the first wave of 3-D becoming a reality at home. But like most new technologies it's going to take a while really for it to develop and be accepted," he said. "I think this is a three-, four-, five-year transition. But for the first time I'm seeing 3-D products in the market that I could see people buying."

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