Sony's 3-D TVs: Caffeine-Free Coke or No-Fat Coke?

There have been many news stories lately about Sony expecting that 30 to 50 percent of the TVs it sells in the fiscal year starting April 2012 will be 3-D capable.  Some people seem amazed that the proportion is so high; they could as easily be amazed it’s so low.

It’s common to see supermarket labels proclaiming that products are caffeine-, fat-, sodium-, or sugar-free, and many of them make sense.  One expects candy to be made with sugar, so sugar-free candy is notable; sugar-free celery, on the other hand, is laughable.

What do those labels have to do with Sony’s 3-D TVs?  The company has not yet revealed what makes them 3-D.  To a certain extent, all TVs are ready for 3-D.

The DOTS and ColorCode 3-D systems are already so TV compatible that even viewers without glasses can view near-normal pictures.  The Pulltime 3-D system used for a Tournament of Roses Parade and The Rolling Stones’ Steel Wheels Tour doesn’t even introduce the slight color fringing on out-of-focus material of DOTS and ColorCode.  The ChomaDepth 3-D system requires no TV modification.  Vision III’s lens adapter and several other temporal-parallax systems are not only compatible with all TV sets but also don’t require any glasses for the 3-D effect.

The most common 3-D TV broadcasts, using colored glasses, were intended to be viewed on ordinary TVs.  Broadcasts of 3-D TV in Mexico in the 1950s used much more complicated polarized and prismatic glasses, but the only “modification” required for TVs was placing a polarizing filter in front of the screen.  Active-shutter glasses require something to synchronize them, but that something can be a separate box fed the same video signal as the TV screen.

So, what 3-D technology will Sony’s TVs use?  As of this writing, all the company has announced is that it would add only a little to manufacturing costs.  That could describe anything from a pixel-column cross-polarized faceplate to an active-glasses sync emitter to a mere label saying “3-D compatible.”

For me, it’s too soon to be amazed.

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