I got an invitation to attend a public demo of 3D TV put on Wed.-Fri. this week at Washington’s Union Station by Panasonic and NVIDIA. Since I’m not attending either CES or the NAB Show this year, I went over there as a poor-man’s substitute for a trip to Las Vegas.
They had a small home theater set up featuring Panasonic’s Viera® 3D HDTV. CNET awarded it the best product of CES award this year. I put on the special glasses and stood about ten feet away and, for most of the demo, about 45° off to the side. I watched first some flamenco dancers and then a Japanese cartoon that had been created for 3D.
I must say, it was a spectacular viewing experience with real depth. The plasma screen provided no visual difference that I could tell in a wide viewing arc. I must say, though, that it wasn’t 100% natural -- maybe 95% so. Not sure exactly how to describe it, but the dancers at different “distances” from my eye looked a bit like they were 2D-ish but positioned on layers that provided the 3D depth. The cartoon added to that effect because the “characters” were themselves intended to be 2D paper figures. Interesting, but not off-putting. I suspect an extending viewing period (mine was only about ten minutes) would enable the viewer to completely forget the 5% “flattening.”
That is, for those who could stick it out for an extended viewing period.
In leaving the room, I noticed a familiar feeling that I get when reading daylight in a car or on a train, or when I’ve scrolled through spools of microfilm on a viewer. And it’s not a pleasant feeling – slight nausea, headache and dizziness. It’s kinetosis, more commonly but less accurately known as motion sickness. There’s a special class of it called simulation sickness that’s probably what is going on with projected 3D (perhaps giving new meaning to projectile v----). Today’s episode was mild and I was fine after a half hour. It’s possible I could get used to it with time (I can now stand on the Metro while it’s jostling and read my iPhone, at least when below ground).
TV receiver manufacturers and retailers are hoping this is the Next Big Thing, so I hope they and their retailers will encourage customers to try it out for some extended period with all family members before taking it home. Or perhaps families should just keep an empty popcorn tub around for you know what.