As we wrote last week, Harrods – along with Currys and Sony Centres – is now taking pre-orders for Sony's 3D TV range. Finding myself near Knightsbridge today with some time to kill (but sadly without the shopping budget to indulge myself), I popped into the Sound and Vision department of Harrods to experience the Sony 3D TV and how it's being sold.
Obviously, we've had a play with the forthcoming Sony sets at trade shows and industry events, but it's always good to see the products in store – and gauge both retailer and consumer reaction to these premium TVs.
First impressions on the third floor
The first thing I noticed on strolling through the Sound and Vision department was a big 'LG 3D' sign; sadly, this screen was switched off, with no sign of glasses or what was available for demonstration. Not a great start.
Initially things didn't improve in the Sony section; two quick tours and I could see no mention of 3D. However, a friendly assistant – Saqib – then approached and I mentioned having read about the Sony 3D sets they were selling – could I see one in action?
Saqib was quick to usher me over to a comfortable sofa and one of Sony's new 60in screens, before disappearing off for some carefully locked-up 3D glasses. In the meantime, my enquiry had caught the attention of a couple who'd also been lured in hoping for a 3D demo; three sets of specs later, we were ready for a look.
Sports, games and nature
The Harrods team has a choice of 3D content to show – including some nature footage of zoo animals, 3D gaming and some sports coverage. Each was incredibly impressive, with a solid three-dimensionality, rather than gimmicky feel.
Saqib demonstrated how the footage was shot with two cameras, switching from 2D to 3D to demonstrate the change in picture experience.
My fellow shoppers were truly taken with their first 3D TV experience, declaring it better than 3D films they'd seen at the cinema. Certainly, sitting relatively close to a 60in TV made for suitably immersive viewing; I wonder if the 40- or even 52in version would have the same impact in-store.
So far so good, but then – as ever with 3D – the talk turned to the facial hardware required.
A glasses-wearer grumbled about having to double up on specs – even if the Sony active-shutter designs are easily large enough to fit over most standard frames.
I deliberately asked about the price of the glasses, and how many pairs you get as standard. When Saqib mentioned the £100-per-pair price-tag, the reaction was suitably horrified (though, to be fair, that must happen a lot with products in Harrods).
However, with the stunning footage continuing, talk soon returned to sizes of set and availability (early June), as well as Sky's move into 3D and the PlayStation 3's 3D-ready status.
3D on the QT
So, for such a must-see new technology, why no signs advertising the 3D demo? Saqib explained concerns that crowds would gather, causing security issues. I was sceptical until I turned to leave and found a huddle of curious customers had assembled, all eager to flex the 3D specs for themselves.
Credit to Saqib for knowing his stuff – and for coolly asking if i'd like to pre-order a set today. I sadly had to disappoint him at that point, but am sure that the more well-heeled Harrods clientele will be more eager.
We've got a review of the UK's first 3D TV - from Samsung - in our current, April issue. We'll have further updates on all the year's new sets in our May issue - on sale April 9th - which will feature a dedicated, 36-page supplement on 2010 TV technology.