Sky 3D TV: is it any good?

Tue, 2 Feb 2010, 10:00am

I was at the Emirates yesterday as a guest of Sky, and watched the first half in 3D with the rest of the assembled tech media throng. Interestingly, some of the journalists there hadn't seen any kind of 3D demo before, and were pretty excited about finally experiencing it for the first time. I had seen several 3D demos before now – mostly at this year's CES show in Las Vegas – and I was curious to see more...
 
So, while Sky prepared the demo, I joined the assorted hacks and milled about, ate my portion of roast guinea fowl – a nice change from the chronically overpriced hot dog I usually eat when visiting the Arsenal – and finally took my seat to don the supplied pair of 3D glasses (trying all the while to ignore how much they looked like the cheap sunglasses you can buy for five quid in the chemist).
 
These were polarised glasses, as opposed to the active shutter type (destined for use with the premium 3D TVs from the likes of Panasonic and Samsung). Even so, as the pre-match atmosphere took hold, expectations were very high for this prototype system – showcased here on LG's 47in 3D ready TVs.
 
The 3D was certainly promising: the pre-game graphics were deeply impressive, coming out of the screen in genuinely 3D style. It made me wonder just how amazing on-screen graphics will become once the creators of said graphics have had time to develop their 3D ideas in full.


Sky 3D TV: how it works


But what of the game itself? Did watching it in 3D really improve the experience?
 
Well... yes and no. Yes, the game did look good, and at particular moments, when the camera angle switched to a low, pitch-side camera, the 3D effect was considerably more pronounced.
 
That said, most of the time when sport is being filmed, in order to get a good view of the game the main camera angle is a wide shot - taken by a camera some considerable height above pitch level. This makes perfect sense in terms of seeing the game, but from this angle the 3D effect is actually very subtle.
 
Yes, it added a small degree of extra depth to the already good-quality, high-def picture. But if the intention was to knock us all out with the 3D 'wow factor' it didn't entirely manage it.
 
Not that it looked bad, at all. It's just that the 3D element of the picture was not startling. To tell the truth, there were moments I almost forgot I was watching in 3D, and started to wonder what I was doing sitting inside with a pair of shades on.

Sky's HD set-top box is 3D ready

Once the market is swamped by 3D products later this year, we'll all have a better idea how consumers are reacting to it. Personally, I think video gamers and fans of animated, Pixar-type movies will be the first to really thrill to the benefits of 3D TV technology.
 
But football? Is sport a key area for 3D? We'll see: certainly, some of Sky's demo footage of various sports looks amazing – intriguingly, most of it looks more impressive than the live footage of Arsenal Vs Man Utd did – but whether that makes consumers en masse want to traipse down the pub on a Sunday afternoon to put on a pair of cheap-looking sunglasses and watch the big match in 3D is another matter.
 
Maybe they will. Ultimately, it will be up to you, the consumers, to decide.

 

 

 

Comments

So if Sky3D is a polarised lens system but the high-end TVs are using active shutter are you going to end up wearing TWO pairs of glasses?

Yes. To be precise, you'll own two pairs of glasses, which you'll don depending on the content you're watching, or remove altogether for regular SD and HD viewing.

Or so runs the theory.