TOKYO, Dec. 23, 2010— -- Toshiba began selling in Japan the world's first 3-D television that doesn't require the use of special glasses to view 3-D images.
The 12-inch TV sets hit store shelves Wednesday at 119,800 yen, roughly $1,400.
Many shoppers in Tokyo stopped by electronics stores to see the 3-D images for themselves, while mulling the price tags.
"A lot of the customers are curious about the quality of the 3-D images," said Hideki Kawase, a spokesperson for electronics retailer Labi in Shibuya. "They're stopping by to watch TV, but they're not buying just yet because of the cost."
Unlike 3-D TVs that create the illusion of depth by utilizing glasses which act as filters to separate images between each eye, Toshiba's screens use processing technology to produce the 3-D images.
The Regza GL1 allows users to view normal TV programs in 2D and 3-D.
Only the 12-inch version is available to customers now, but Toshiba plans to release its 20-inch model on Christmas day and a 40-inch model next year.
The relatively small TV models could deter some customers away from buying them, for now.
"I want to watch on a big screen," a 47-year-old man told AFP. "I'll wait for another year before buying it."
Electronics stores hope Toshiba's new release will boost sagging sales.
Domestic sales of flat-panel TVs soared last month as consumers rushed to cash in on government incentives for those purchasing environmentally friendly products.
But that enthusiasm has dampened since the government largely cut back on those incentives this month.
While Toshiba is the first to offer glasses free 3-D TV sets, other Japanese companies have already brought the technology to smaller screens.
Earlier this year, Nintendo unveiled a glasses-free screen for its Nintendo DS console.
Earlier this month, Sharp began selling the first glasses free 3-D Smartphone, equipped with a 3-D camera, 3-D games, and 3-D video.
The Regza GL1 Series allow users to switch between 2D and 3-D on normal TV programs.
"The TV is quite expensive for its size," Hideki Kawase, a spokesperson at electronics retailer Labi said.