Once the great shining hope of both Hollywood and the consumer electronics industry, 3D on home video has largely failed to capture the interest of the public. Sales of both 3D TVs and 3D Blu-ray discs have disappointed, at least compared to the (perhaps unreasonable) expectations placed upon them. Some people blame the need to wear dorky 3D glasses as the main cause for resistance against the format, but is that really true? Will glasses-free 3D finally be the magic bullet that gets you to buy into 3D, or is 3D a lost cause as far as you’re concerned?
Although the technology behind glasses-free 3D has been available (at least in concept) for several years already, mass implementation into consumer products still faces significant obstacles. One of the biggest problems is viewing angle. In order to properly see the 3D effect, existing glasses-free displays require you to sit either directly in front of the screen or in a limited number of specific positions. Move your head slightly, and the picture loses 3D and is swamped in crosstalk artifacts. While manufacturers have been working hard to overcome this issue, powerhouse brand LG reports that it won’t be ready to mass produce glasses-free 3D TVs until 2017 at the earliest, much later than previously planned.
In the meantime, some other companies have dumped 3D entirely from their product lines, or redirected the focus of their marketing efforts toward the 4k (but 2D) UHD format instead.
Honestly, I’m not sure that 3D glasses are really to blame for the format’s failure. Many people just plain don’t like 3D. Others may have only passive interest in it as a theatrical format, but don’t feel the need to upgrade their TVs or projectors for it.
Personally, I like 3D, enough so that I installed a second projector in my home theater just for 3D purposes (because my primary projector sucks at 3D). Wearing 3D glasses is a nuisance, especially since I have to put them on top of my existing glasses, but I’m willing to deal with it. Yet 3D still accounts for only a tiny fraction of my viewing, and half the movies I’ve bought on Blu-ray 3D are crappy post-conversions that look better in 2D anyway.
I doubt that glasses-free 3D will really change too many people’s opinions about the 3D format. Am I wrong about that? What are your feelings about glasses-free 3D?