Integrators Need to Help 3D Go Big-Screen
3D may never be widely accepted, but CE pros can assure home theater owners enjoy the experience.
It’s been difficult for me to get excited about 3D. Meh, just another gimmick for display manufacturers to try to add some premium back to a market that has been commoditized.
Unfortunately, a big reason I think 3D won’t take off quite like HDTV or streaming media is that size does matter. Not sure if I’m just jaded from having both a projection screen and a 50-inch plasma at my disposal, but after recently testing out a 3D projector (keep an eye out for the review) I came to two conclusions: 1) 3D is indeed very cool when viewed in the right environment and 2) the right environment is a screen of at least 70-plus diagonal inches.
I was skeptical when I signed on for the review of Sharp’s XV-Z17000 3D-ready DLP projector. I had no idea how it would translate in my dedicated theater room on a 92-inch screen that had not been touted as one of those “built for 3D.” I’d also seen plenty of 3D flat-panel and projection demos at the CEDIA and CES, but never really walked away from any feeling like it was a must-have product. Give me razor-sharp 2D instead of a technology that occasionally makes me dizzy.
But I must admit, the review process definitely changed my thinking. And it gave me more confidence that CE pros who proactively approach the 3D market with some enthusiasm, know-how and opportunism may stand to reap the benefits.
Having used the projector for 2D purposes for a while, I waited until Sharp sent me Despicable Me on Blu-ray 3D to give the format a test drive (the only other content I had was an AIX Records Goldberg Variations Acoustica Blu-ray 3D, but I wanted to wait on that).
When I made the easy one-button press switch to 3D, glasses donned and the disc in one of Sharp’s Aquos 3D Blu-ray players, I was highly impressed and pleasantly surprised. I’ve come to terms with the fact that today’s 3D isn’t quite as immersive as the Captain EO-sort of 3D, but the image on Despicable Me was darn good. Tons of depth without losing detail, and really engaging.
But we do need to stop being hit over the head with 3D as a technology for everyday viewing. It’s not. I can live with wearing the glasses here and there, and my 4-year-old daughter made it through the movie with them, too. But I think if 3D is viewed as a more special movie night event, it will take on such impact for viewers. Then again, there really isn’t enough content for everyday viewing anyway.
That said, CE pros can really push the message across. 3D on a 50-inch screen just doesn’t engage me like it did on my theater screen, and I don’t blame consumers for not buying in. I’ve seen demos of LED screens with beautiful images at tradeshows, distributors’ floors and Best Buy (where I’ve experienced completely lackluster demos), and there’s definitely something lacking. With HDTV compared to SDTV, for example, that shift to super-crisp images works on just about any screen sizes. 3D works well in a commercial theater because of the massive screen size, and I found that the same thing came across, even more so than I imagined, when I felt the envelopment of 3D on my home screen.
I’d say most dedicated theaters integrators share with us include a screen of about 110 inches. This is perfect for 3D in the home.
If you’re the type of CE pro who works hard at maintaining contact and good relationships with clients, educating them and introducing them to the latest tech when appropriate, then this could be a great chance. But you may have to believe in the format yourself. I’ve heard from plenty of installers who feel the way I did about 3D, and didn’t think it could make much of an impact on their business. I’d say if you own your own home theater, swap out the projector and Blu-ray player and see for yourself.
Then formulate a jaw-dropping demo in a dedicated theater - not on a flat-panel display. Between Despicable Me, Avatar, the Pixar films and even the AIX Records disc, there’s at least enough out there to create an engaging demo that includes both animated and real-life content. Find the scenes that best represent 3D’s capabilities, and invite families in for a demo. Or hold an evening or two for a 3D viewing party. Tell them how you can swap their projector and Blu-ray player (I know, potentially easier said than done). Most projector brands, even on the higher end like SIM2 and DPI, have 3D offerings (the Sharp unit is only $4,999 MSRP, too).
Like some other technologies, it took living with 3D to sway me, and that’s still while carrying a couple caveats. You may need to see it for yourself to turn your opinion. Maybe you’ll turn some profit, too.
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Arlen Schweiger is managing editor of CE Pro, Commercial Integrator and Security Sales & Integration magazines. Arlen contributes installation features, business profiles, manufacturer news and product reviews. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Arlen at firstname.lastname@example.org
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