CES 2010: The future's bright, the future's 3D; or is it?

It’s hard to ignore the fact here at CES that the big TV manufacturers are hell-bent on 2010 being the year of 3D TV.

Yesterday Sony wheeled out its new Brand Ambassador, Taylor Swift, to perform ‘live in 3D’ – there was something slightly surreal in having to don a pair of 3D glasses to watch her in three dimensions popping out of a giant screen, when in fact she was standing on the stage right in front of us.

And today we’re promised America’s first live 3D broadcast from Panasonic. According to Jon Landau, producer of the $1bn-grossing Avatar, “3D is a more immersive experience. It makes the viewer feel as if they are at an event they can’t get to”.

Which is all well and good. But Sony, Samsung, LG, Panasonic & Co still have to persuade their customers – that’s you and me folks – to go out and buy a new 3D TV.

Panasonic TC-P50V25 3D plasma TV

Now there won’t be a shortage of new models to choose from, but judging by the user comments on some of our CES news stories, not all of you are thrilled at the idea of having to junk that gorgeous new plasma or LCD telly you’ve just bought.

But here’s the interesting thing. Over here in the US Panasonic has linked up with satellite TV company DirecTV, which plans to launch three new HD 3D channels by June. And Sony has done a deal with Discovery and IMAX, as you can read here.

Eric Shanks, executive vice-president of DirecTV, says existing customers will simply need to download a software upgrade to convert their existing HD set-top boxes to 3D.

The same is true of Sky+ HD in the UK, so it will be fascinating to see if Panasonic links up with Sky as they’ve done with DirecTV in the US.

If they do, don’t underestimate the power of Sky to persuade people to part with cash for the 3D experience at home.

Are you willing to wear 3D goggles at home?

If the 3D content available from the broadcasters and film studios is sufficiently compelling – and the success of Avatar in the cinema suggests it might just be – then the future could indeed be 3D.

For now, however, we’ll have to content ourselves with looking at the new hardware in store. Panasonic, like Sony, Samsung, LG et al, has a plethora of new 3D TVs, Blu-ray players and cameras in the pipeline.

Panasonic's first 3D Blu-ray player, the DMP-BDT350

There’ll be the Viera VT25 series of Full HD 3D plasma TVs, with Infinite Black Panel Pro and wi-fi VieraCast including Skype, and the PP-BDT350 3D-enable Blu-ray player.

And for the content makers, Panasonic has unveiled here at CES its first twin-lens, Full HD, 3D camera (below) which is due on sale this autumn for around £13,000.

Panasonic's twin-lens 3D camera

As soon as we have UK release dates and prices for Panasonic’s 3D range we’ll let you know. In the meantime, keeping checking back here on whathifi.com for all the latest CES news live from the show.

Panasonic Viera TV with Skype

Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching whathifi.com in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.