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3D Manager Turns Old TVs into 3D-Capable Sets

Don't toss those old TVs! Distribute 3D content to dozens of legacy HDTV sets -- even models that predate 3D -- with the new 3D Manager from Just Add Power.


Ed Qualls from Just Add Power demos prototype 3D Manager delivering 3D TV to a bunch of old displays during EHX. 2011.

If you’re thinking about trashing your customers’ old legacy HDTV sets just to get a 3D picture … think again.

Instead, you might want to sell them the 3D Manager from Just Add Power, one of the original developers of HDMI-over-IP. The new solution, introduced at the Electronic House Expo last week, turns virtually any HDTV with an HDMI port into a 3D-enabled display.

I interviewed JAP principal Ed Qualls before EHX 2011 and the solution sounded pretty good. As described, the technology could potentially save clients thousands of dollars, protecting their initial investment and making the integrator look like a star.

But I was skeptical … until I experienced the 3D Manager at the show.

3D for the Whole House or Building

Consumers currently have access to multiple 3D sources including Blu-ray, satellite, PS3, Vudu, cable and others. But most households have only one or two (or zero) 3D-capable displays in the house.

This is especially the case in commercial facilities such as sports bars.

The 3D Manager works with the full range of 3D broadcast standards (frame packing, side-by-side, top-and-bottom) to deliver a frame-sequential 3D experience with the matching 3D Glasses.

The 3D Manager includes these three pieces:

1. Discover Encoder
This pass-through device converts the 3D source content to a 1080p or 720p signal compatible with practically any existing HDTV or projector. Using the RS-232 interface, the custom installer is able to dynamically control various functions such as frequency (60Hz/120Hz), scaling, color processing, noise reduction and EDID response.

2. Synch Nodes with IR Emitters
These pass-through devices, based on JAP’s HDMI-over-IP technology, are needed for each room that wants the benefit of 3D video. However, a standard switcher may be utilized instead. “We have already gathered that the Atlona switches will work for sure,” says Qualls.

3. 60/120 Hz 3D Glasses
These active shutter LCD glasses work in conjunction with the Synch Nodes and Emitters.

[continues after video]

My Impressions of 3D Manager

Not only did the 3D picture look great on some “old fashioned” HDTV sets shown at EHX, but the underlying technology had some nice surprises.

First, JAP demonstrated its solution using the 60Hz frequency. I think 120Hz and 240Hz may have met their match when it comes to 3D.

Personally I found a couple of reasons why 60Hz may be better than the higher rates, starting with adjustment times. My eyes seemed to adjust much faster and more comfortably with the lower range.

Also, overall comfort was much better. 60Hz means breaking the video down to about 30 frames per second for each eye, which is much easier on the eyes.

How about a BIG issue with traditional 3D: Crosstalk. With JAP’s solution, crosstalk was less bothersome than it tends to be with traditional 3D implementations.


Just Add Power 3D Manager - Architecture. Click to download pdf.
Finally, the 3D Manager addresses EDID challenges that have previously made it difficult to distribute 3D content to multiple displays.

Normally, once a source sees a 2D display in a single or shared use, the 3D functionality is turned off.

Some companies such as Atlona have overcome this challenge by memorizing or adding custom EDID on the switch side.

JAP’s approach is different. The EDID on the 3D Encoder -- which is the first device in the chain to the source – is set to be recognized as a 3D-ready display. This allows full 3D distribution to all HDTVs because each 3D source essentially sees a 3D-ready display before the switching.

And don’t worry about maxing out the network. Even with a consumer-grade router, the system can deliver 3D content to dozens of TVs – scores of them with an enterprise-grade router.

The best news about 3D Manager? You don’t have to worry about investing in 3D-capable TVs that may employ proprietary 3D formats that are not interoperable across TVs, encoders and glasses.

With the 3D Manager, any HDTV with HDMI can be a 3D TV. Integrators and consumers will be happy. Manufacturers … probably not so much.

Or so I thought. During EHX, the product caught the attention of Sim2 EVP Alberto Fabiano, who saw great possibilities after visiting the JAP booth – despite the fact that Sim2 would like to upgrade existing customers to brand new shiny 3D projectors.

Pricing and Availability

Just Add Power sells only through the custom installation channel. As such, there is no “retail” price for the 3D Manager and related components.

Having said that, a kit with one encoder, two synch nodes with two IR emitters, and four pairs of 60/120 Hz 3D glasses might sell for less than $5,000 – a bargain for consumers or commercial enterprises with existing high-performance projectors and displays.

The product currently is set to ship in June. A few changes to the product are underway, such as less intrusive emitters. Qualls and I discussed a one-gang in-wall model.

The glasses may get a stylish upgrade, as well. Think Oakley. Literally.

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Article Topics

News · Product News · Video · Multiroom Video · Events · 3d · Joe Whitaker · Ehx · All topics

About the Author

Joe Whitaker, Electronic Lifestyle Consultant JW Designs / CEDIA Board of Directors Member
With more than a decade of experience in home systems installation and product development, Joe Whitaker currently is principal of the integration firm JW Designs. He was elected to the CEDIA board of directors in 2013 and is a frequent contributor to CE Pro magazine.

13 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Loyal Bar Patron  on  03/22  at  01:25 PM

To even bring up a sports bar is ridiculous. The main reason I feel 3D will never take off is because you can’t watch it in sports bars. HD was embraced by bars and it helped show potential buyers what they were missing when they went home. 3D that uses glasses will never tke off in this environment. The patrons will never wear the glasses in a sports bar. The main reason is if everyone doesn’t have glasses on you can’t say to a friend hey look over here. Bar owners aren’t going to supply twice as many displays for a few individuals that may want to watch 3D pictures. I won’t even try on 3D glasses at a tradeshow. I definitely wouldn’t wear ones that weren’t my own in a bar. 3D is a fad until it can be done with out the need for glasses.

Posted by Joe Whitaker  on  03/22  at  01:54 PM

Yup, people thought the Ipod was a fad. Then Apples media monsters brain washed the masses into pod people. The same will happen with 3d. Manufacturers have spent to much money to back down and will force it on us with proprietary content just like Apple and Itunes. So get used to it. And I do know a sports bar that has these awesome “dimmed” side areas where you can watch the big game in full on 3d. Think of your home theater with it’s own waitress/bartender. “No wife jokes here guy’s be nice” Even if you don’t personally like 3d with glasses that is entirely your opinion. But it is not a fad that will fade!
And BTW I am not biased when it comes to things that people say are a fad. I was one of those that said the Ipod was a fad. I definitely learned my lesson then.

Posted by Ed Qualls  on  03/22  at  02:12 PM

I’ve actually tried to talk some sports bar owners out of wanting support for 3D, and some of them feel pretty strong about it.  It was customers like that which motivated us to figure out how to deliver a distributed 3D solution that would work across multiple make/model televisions and projectors.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  03/22  at  04:14 PM

I think it’s a great gimmick for a bar—to offer big games on the big screen in 3D.

Posted by Joe Whitaker  on  03/22  at  04:34 PM

It is kinda cool. All bars need gimmicks!

Posted by Chris Boylan  on  03/23  at  01:20 PM

Working over a 60 Hz system delivery system, you’re only delivering 30 frames per second to each eye, right?  How do you avoid nasty judder from 24p film-based sources as well as unacceptable levels of flicker?

Posted by srankin  on  03/23  at  06:10 PM

What if you’re looking to trash the customers’ 3D sets? Is there a solution for that?

Posted by Joe Whitaker  on  03/23  at  06:20 PM

Sledge Hammer, but i hear the butt end of screwdrivers work as well.

Posted by Justin N.  on  03/24  at  04:23 PM

Those of you curious about judder with 24p sources in 3D, you need to re-read the Blu-Ray specifications for 3D content - while each stream is encoded at 24p, the displays have to divide it by two - one for each eye - which results in two 60/120/240 streams depending on the set’s refresh rate.  With the vast majority of consumer-ready 3DTVs being 120Hz refresh rates, then you’re essentially getting judder anyway as only 60 frames are going to each eye per second.

Affordable 3D (read: most of your future market, CI’s!) is going to rely heavily on good interpolation or pulldown methods to decrease visible judder as well as active glasses for 3D display, neither of which are the best solution in the long term (but our only solution in the near term).  If I was a CI and had clients really pushing for 3D, I’d try to educate them on current drawbacks first and, if they still insisted on it, then insist on superb video processors or higher-end displays to minimize these problems.  3D has very little compromise/wiggle-room right now, so you’ll have to be aggressive in order to maintain high quality.

Speaking about the original article, I am intrigued on the pricing structure for this setup and if 60Hz glasses will be doable for me compared to the 120 and 240 glasses I’ve tried (and have made me ill).  I’m hoping that if the flicker is slow enough, I may be able to put off the flicker-sickness I get for the duration of the feature.  I’m also curious if they’d support displays with 48/72/96 refresh rates, like Plasmas or high-end CRT monitors, as that could produce some very interesting (read: good) results.

I know I’d love to tinker with this, that’s for sure.

Posted by Ed Qualls  on  03/24  at  09:28 PM

One of the unexpected benefits of running 3D at 60Hz is a much longer battery life for the active glasses (about 300 hours).  This coupled with the less intensive flicker really makes the system an attractive choice for many potential users.

Posted by Chris Boylan  on  03/24  at  09:37 PM

I’m pretty familiar with the Blu-ray 3D spec having written several articles about it.  And I am aware that standard active 3D systems convert each distinct 24p channel (left right) to 60 FPS using 2:3 pulldown so each eye gets 60 Hz. But the judder introduced by a standard 3:2 conversion is acceptable to most people. 

But 30 Hz is a different story.  How do you convert a 24p signal to 30 frames per second without excessive judder?  What cadence is used for this conversion?

And as for a slower refresh rate being easier to watch, isn’t the opposite true?  Panasonic’s native 24p mode on some of their mid-range sets doubles the 24p input to 48 Hz, which many people find difficult to watch due to excessive flicker.  OTOH, their 96 Hz mode Cinema native 24p mode on their high end sets (V and VT series) is gorgeous and film-like.  So, faster display rate = better image quality (less flicker).  Why would the opposite be true here?

Are there any places in or near NYC where one could view this new 3D system that works with standard 2D TVs?

Posted by Ed Qualls  on  03/25  at  08:27 AM

In NYC you can contact Bach Sales Corp., the Just Add Power manufacturer’s representative, to be advised when they will have a working demonstration available in the dealer training facility(should be in May/June).  Their phone number is (516)334-2323.  Dealers in other parts of the country can find our local representative by going to .

Posted by Mike D  on  03/25  at  12:10 PM

3D is already a proven business in pubs… Sky in the UK has deployed 3D to over 1000 pubs in the UK and Ireland with very good results. The key here is that they are using 3DTVs that use inexpensive passive polarized glasses just like the ones that you would wear in theaters that use RealD or MasterImage. The downside to the passive displays is that they are more expensive to produce, the resolution of the 3D is cut in half to 540 and the viewing angle from top to bottom is restricted.

In regards to flicker, the lower the framerate the more pronounced the flicker. Just to give you an idea, in theatrical the image is triple-flashed to 144 or 72 fps per eye. The 3DTVs are not capable of operating at that refresh rate for 3D which is why they use 120 or 60fps per eye. Any slower and the flickering becomes more apparent. If you have a Panasonic 3D plasma you can check this out as they have the option of operating at 96 or 48fps per eye.

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