Every manufacturer boasts their product as being superior to all others. When I received an invite to see what Panasonic was bringing to 3D I was a little sceptical at all the hype, having just seen Sony's offerings. One line in the invitation email however did catch my attention:
Impressive. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so last Monday I visited Panasonic HQ to see what made this TV so special.
Brand new and freshly delivered from the States, we were about to start watching the Panasonic TC-P50VT25 - a 50" plasma (note it's not a LCD) screen that was marketed to give us an experience superior to that of watching Avatar at the cinemas. So, with a handful of other tech enthusiasts, the lights were dimmed in the board room, we donned our futuristic glasses and the demonstration began.
Powered by a Panasonic BluRay player (using HDMI standard v1.4) we were able to see a variety of 3D demo videos, one of which was the Beach Volleyball Tour held at Mt Maunganui. The colours were crisp and bright, and 3D made watching the volleyball a new experience; some of the shots made it seem as though the ball was passing very close as it bounced out of shot. I am looking forward to broadcasters adoption of 3D channels, as live sport in 3D is as close as you can get without actually being there.
Gaming is another application that looks much better in 3D. We watched the new Avatar game played on X-Box. It does take some getting used to, but overall it is much easier to become fully immersed in the game when there is depth to the image. Any military games looks amazing as bullets and other projectiles seem to leave the screen and head towards your.. head.
If you do get tired of 3D, you don't have to watch 3D all the time; a quick and easy change in the menu puts the TV into 2D mode.
The 3D active shutter glasses are half of the clever technology. When first turned on (yes they are battery powered) they synchronise with the TV. As you watch, each lense turns on and off rapidly, which gives you the 3D experience. Light and able to fit easily over prescription glasses, you get full 1080p to both your left and right eyes.
One way to convince your partner/better half of indulging in this plasma is it uses a lot less power than a standard plasma or LCD screen - it meets Energy Star 4.0 requirements so you will save on your power bill.
A 3D plasma is useless without 3D content, so Panasonic are also releasing this year the world's first integrated HD 3D camcorder, the Panasonic AG-3DA1. Expect to see more of these at major sporting events soon.
Overall, a very impressive offering from Panasonic, and not hard to see why it took out CES. After seeing such high definition, clear picture, it's really hard to go back to watching anything else without criticising.
To finish up, some answers to the queries I sent Panasonic following my visit, thanks to Andrew Reid, the Panasonic guru:
How does Panasonic's 3D differ from that seen in the theatres?
With the home experience the glasses are synchronised to the screen. When you turn on the glasses on they control how you see the image.
What are so special about the Panasonic 3D glasses?
To remove the possibility of crosstalk or unwanted after images, Panasonic's 3D glasses close off both eyes at the instant that the images change for the left and right eyes. They have been designed to suit many different face sizes, can be adjusted to fit and also fit over glasses.
Will there ever be 3D without needing the glasses and why?
Unsure. There are several forms of auto stereoscopic screens. Unfortunately the current technology has several major issues e.g. eye strain, severely limited viewing angle and poor resolution to name a few. If they manage to overcome these then perhaps but it doesn't seem likely any time soon.
When will broadcasters start to show 3D content?
Unsure. Overseas 3d broadcasts could be as soon as this year. Locally you would need to talk to the broadcasters.
What advantages does Panasonic have over competitors such as Sony?
Panasonic use plasma as a technology for 3D, more specifically Panasonic uses a new generation of our NEO PDP panel that has been specifically designed to handle the increased demands of 3D meaning our panel doesn't suffer from cross talk. It also offers significant improvements in terms of Contrast, colour and power consumption when in 2D mode.
Rough RRP on the glasses and TV?
Glasses will be approximately US$100, each 3D panel will come with one set of these.
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