Samsung, Panasonic Go 3-D, Will Consumers Join Them?

ESPN, Discovery Expected to Announce Content Later This Year

While HD adoption was helped by a federal mandate to switch to digital television and a form factor change to the flat-panel TV, he said 3-D TV "enhances the TV experience for certain kinds of content.

"It follows in the long history of technology and entertainment experiences that have been pioneered in the theater that people want to bring home," he said.

And though there will be minimal 3-D content initially available, he said there will likely be more than there was in the early days of HDTV.

Firm dates have not yet been disclosed but, in January, Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN announced that it will broadcast a minimum of 85 live sporting events in 3-D this year, including this summer's World Cup. Discovery unveiled an alliance with Sony and IMAX to deliver a 24-hour 3-D nature channel.

DirecTV and Panasonic also said that, starting in June 2010, DirecTV HD customers will be able to receive a free upgrade to receive three 3-D-only channels.

Market search and consulting firm DisplaySearch recently projected that 1.2 million 3-D-capable TVs will ship in 2010, with 15.6 million units shipping in 2013. North America is expected to comprise about half of 2010 shipments.

Price Tags for 3-D TVs Don't Tell Whole Story

Rubin said he expects adoption to take off as the price between 3-D-ready TVs and their non-3-D counterparts shrinks.

Through Amazon and Sears, Samsung's 3-D-capable TVs sell for $2,600 and $3,300 for 46-inch and 55-inch sets respectively. Analysts say that's about 20 percent more than their similar non-3-D TVs. According to a Monday Reuters report, Panasonic's 3-D TVs is expected to cost $2,500 for a 50-inch unit.

While these prices aren't as high as some feared, consumer electronics experts say these price tags don't tell the whole story.

Jim Wilcox, a senior editor for electronics and technology at Consumer Reports, said the newest 3-D TVs to hit the market, like Panasonic's new unit, are the flagship models.

"It's not the mainstream product that they're looking to sell in mass merchants," he said, adding that the newest 3-D TVs are premium models with the added 3-D feature. "It's not a Wal-Mart product, it's a Best Buy product."

He also said that these costs don't necessarily include the price of glasses or other pieces of the 3-D puzzle, such as a new Blu-ray player.

In addition to selling 3-D TVs on their own, Samsung today announced a promotional starter kit that will include a 3-D TV, a 3-D Blu-ray player and a 3-D version of DreamWorks Animation's "Monsters vs. Aliens" for prices starting at about $3,000 for the 46-inch TV. Other manufacturers may only sell the necessary 3-D accessories separately.

"You're not just going to spring $2,500 for the TV, you could have another $500 or more of investments to really use that TV," he said. "I think the people going out and immediately buying these are the early adopters who wanted the latest technology and understand how that curve works, or they're people who want to future-proof themselves."

Still, for retailers eager to increase foot traffic, 3-D TVs are already starting lure customers.

Karen Austin, president of home electronics for Sears, said the lack of content isn't stopping early adopters from inquiring about 3-D TVs at locations across the country.

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