CES 2010. 3D TV: the light at the end of the tunnel, or an on-rushing train?

It's little surprise, perhaps, but the biggest story to come out of this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is the continuing, seemingly unstoppable, rise of 3DTV.

I say unstoppable. Certainly if the big TV manufacturers have their way, it will be.

The major players are now extremely bullish about the format, and their impressively massive stands at the show were heavily weighted towards pushing 3D in the home.

All of which delights Gary Shapiro. The president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association - the trade body behind CES and the voice of the industry in Washington DC - believes that this year's show sees an industry a lot more enthusiastic and excited about the future than it was this time 12 months ago.

"At last year's CES I really felt the recession. This year, I feel optimism, I feel excitement, innovation. Our attendance this year will be greater than it was last year, and people are much more positive.

"Last year was a time of uncertainty worldwide. This year, I think people are tired of being tired."

And 3D TV is a big reason for that industry optimism. You might not get the impression by reading our forums, perhaps, but research in the US shows that the public wants 3D in their homes. Indeed, according to Shapiro, by 2013 26 per cent of US households will have a 3D TV.

Crucially, they will have something to watch as well. "It's sports, movies and video games," says Shapiro, that will sell 3D.

All of those things are coming - and soon. ESPN announced at the show that it will launch a 3D sports channel later this year, and Sony revealed at its press conference that it will be launching its own HD channel in the US, in collaboration with Discovery and IMAX - the imaginatively titled Discovery IMAX Sony HD channel. Only a couple of hours earlier Samsung had announced that it was in partnership with animation giant Dreamworks, and Technicolor.

"I must admit I was sceptical about 3D until I experienced it," says Shapiro. "3D and HD are like ice cream. You can describe it all you want, but that will never be as good as having someone experience it."

Well, I'm not so sure about the ice cream analogy, but now that I have seen the technology in action, I must say that I am no longer the cynic that I was about 3D. It really can be a remarkable experience.

Having said that, I've always been rather a fan of plain old vanilla...

Jonathan Evans
Editor, What Hi-Fi? magazine

Jonathan Evans is the editor of What Hi-Fi? magazine, and has been with the title for 17 years or so. He has been a journalist for getting on for three decades now, working on a variety of technology and motoring titles, including Stuff, Autocar and Jaguar. With his background in sub-editing and magazine production, he likes nothing more than a discussion on the finer points of grammar. And golf.