On the 3D display front, there were lots of newly-announced, 3D capable displays on hand at CES, with a similar mix of active and passive formats as last year. The truly interesting news to report was that there have been significant advances in autostereoscopic displays – also known as “3D without the glasses.” It’s always been my feeling that 3D isn’t really going to move beyond a niche market in the home until the glasses are no longer required to experience a truly home theater reference-quality 3D effect and the price for that capability is mass market friendly. Of course, that day is still a few years away… but it does appears to be getting a lot closer. A number of demonstrations were on hand at the show this year, but two of them really stood out.
Vizio had a 55-inch demonstration on hand in their booth at CES which was a full 4K display, allowing the actual 3D experience to achieve a 1080p level of quality without glasses. The set boasts 9 sweets spots for viewing the 3D effect (thanks to a lenticular lens built into the front of the display) and those sweet spots were wider than those seen in the past, which makes the display more practical for a family viewing experience. And when you’re not standing or sitting in a sweet spot, rather than seeing a blurry double image as in past demonstrations the 3D effect simply flattens out to 2D. Vizio says they’re already working on an improved version with 28 sweet spots. Of course, no prices or availability dates were given. Still, it’s a marked improvement from such displays seen last year at CES. Here’s a look at Vizio’s display via YouTube and CNet:
Not to be outdone, Stream TV Networks had their own 4K autostereoscopic display demonstration on and here’s the surprise – there were no sweet spots. Instead the full 3D effect was viewable from any viewing position! Again, that was thanks to a special lens material built into the front of the display screen, but it apparently wasn’t a lenticular-type system – the reps on hand on the booth wouldn’t say how it worked. SlashGear took some video of this display which you can see below via YouTube. If you listen during the clip you can hear the rep acknowledge that there’s “an optical structure” in front of the screen (i.e. a lens of some sort) but it’s some kind of new technology that they’ve developed and are keeping a trade secret. You can’t see the 3D effect here obviously, but it was impressive in person…
Again, don’t expect these displays to arrive in the home in 2013 or even 2014, but the point is that autostereoscopic display technology is making very strong advances… and frankly much more quickly than I expected.
While we’re talking 3D, Lionsgate has just announced (at CES) a new partnership with Samsung to begin converting some of the studio’s popular theatrical titles to 3D for distribution on disc and streaming. Initial titles include Gamer, Crank, Descent and Bangkok Dangerous.
Also at CES, Netflix said its recent “Open Connect” delivery network – which enables ISPs to receive (at no cost to them) higher quality Netflix video content directly through an interconnection point of the ISP’s choosing – is gaining widespread acceptance. To sweeten the deal, Netflix is now offering very high-quality 1080p video (they call it “Super HD”) and even 3D content from select Netflix partner studios and 3Net Studios. Netflix will begin offering 3D content internationally as well based on demand.
Finally, the DEG announced its usual slate of home entertainment industry awards at CES. Categories and winners include:
DEG 2012 Retailer of the Year for Hardware, Software and Digital – Walmart
The DEG Emiel N. Petrone Innovation Awards for 2012
Best Physical Media Product – BDP-105 Blu-ray Disc Player (OPPO)
Best Digital Media Product – Kindle Fire HD (Amazon)
Most Innovative Home Entertainment Product – XBR-84X900 4K Ultra HDTV (Sony)
DEG Creative Excellence Awards for 2012
Theatrical Title of the Year – The Avengers (Disney)
Classic Title of the Year (TIE) – Alfred Hitchcock Collection (Universal) / Jaws (Universal)
Music Title of the Year – Neil Young Journeys (Sony)
3D Title of the Year – Hugo (Paramount)
Second Screen App of the Year – The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros.)
And that pretty much covers it – all the most relevant BD, HD, 4K and 3D news from the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in a nutshell.
Have a great weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday with our usual release news update. Stay tuned!
- Bill Hunt