LG Electronics Adds Affordable Passive 3D Displays

LG Electronics rolled out Cinema 3D, a new initiative designed to fulfill an important gap in the 3D marketplace: affordable, passive-based LCD 3D displays that will allow households to add 3D capabilities without the need for expensive active glasses, which cost upwards of $150 a pair.

According to New Product Development Director Tim Alessi, the move to affordable passive-based displays not only will make it easier for a 3D-set owner to invite friends over to experience 3D but will also make it easier for retailers like Best Buy to demonstrate it. Current 3D sales displays at retailers either rely on mounted 3D glasses that the consumer needs to peer through or requires the assistance of a sales associate.

“Cinema 3D eliminates pain points, and the message is simple: this is the most comfortable 3D-viewing experience, and it is just like going to a 3D movie,” says Alessi. “There is less cross talk, and the glasses weigh less than 20 grams.”

Each set will also ship with four pairs of 3D glasses, and pricing for the sets, available this spring, is expected to be competitive with active 3D displays from other manufacturers (and cheaper than LG’s active displays). Additional glasses will be priced around $20 each.

LG research of average consumers points to the potential for Cinema 3D in the marketplace. The study found that 82% of consumers preferred the passive experience to LG’s active displays. Even brightness, one of the issues with passive displays, was deemed better, 88% percent giving it the thumbs up over active.

“A year ago, the implementation of passive, polarized 3D was a lot more expensive,” says John Taylor, VP of public affairs and communications for LG Electronics, “but innovations have driven the cost down to a point where the sweet spot makes this a commercial market.”

LG Electronics helped drive the 3D-sports-content experience in 2010 when it sponsored the broadcast of the Final Four weekend of the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament to theaters across the country. Taylor says discussions are going on right now on bringing 3D back to the NCAA tourney and the company is also looking at other opportunities.

“Producing 3D sports content is still a complex and expensive venture, and we tip our hats to the true pioneers like CBS and ESPN,” he says, adding, “The early days of HD were also complex and expensive.”

In other LG Electronics news, “Smart TV” technology brings apps and other streaming video, photo, and music services to TVs via WiFi connections. There is also a standalone box that will bring the services to older TV sets from LG and other manufacturers via an HDMI connection.

The revamped Smart TV takes the previous LG Internet-enabled TV platform to a new level, with a home dashboard and a launch bar along the bottom of the screen displaying favorite applications. The system also allows searching across multiple services for content and integrates metadata to make it easier than ever to find content.

“What people want out of Smart TV technology is the ability to easily connect into a home network and have content they can watch,” says Alessi. “We also offer access to the Web with an easy-to-use browser, and all Smart TV devices either include a WiFi adaptor or have WiFi built into the device.”

But perhaps most important is a wand controller that brings gesture-based control to the menus and services. For example, instead of struggling with directional arrows to move around the screen, viewers simply aim the wand towards the TV and control an arrow that they point at desired content and apps (think a sleekly designed Wii controller).