3-D television a rage at Consumer Electronics Show

A breathtaking wave of 3-D televisions hit the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Wednesday as the technology was touted as the next big thing in home theater.

"When it comes to home entertainment, there really is no experience like 3-D," Sony chief executive Howard Stringer said while unveiling innovations on the eve of the official start of CES in Las Vegas.

"We intend to take the lead in 3-D. We want to provide the most compelling 3-D content possible."

The Japanese electronics giant's plans range from being part of a 3-D television network in the United States to streaming live performances in the format.

Country music star Taylor Swift performed during the press conference in a Sony demonstration of live 3-D broadcasting and said she will document her coming Asia tour in the format.

"The whole thing is turning into the CES 3-D showcase, don't you think?" Stringer asked rhetorically after Swift left the stage.

Sony has teamed with Discovery and IMAX in a 3-D television network and with ESPN to broadcast soccer and golf matches in 3-D.

While 3-D technology has been around for years, it is finally "ready for prime time" as proven by box office successes of films "Avatar" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," according to IMAX.

Sony will release a line of 3-D ready televisions this year capable of synching with sensing units and "active shutter glasses" for 3-D viewing.

On the CES show floor, massive LCD and Plasma TV screens linked to wireless shutter glasses for a 3-D effect were prominently displayed.

"3-D is going to be the next big buzz," Overton told AFP. "Everyone is going to want it. Then, the gaming systems will jump on."

Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said that while 3-D offerings are visually stunning, it is unlikely consumers will be in a hurry to buy the premium-priced television sets.

Many consumers upgraded to high-definition television sets in the past three years, and an infrastructure to deliver 3-D content to homes isn't in place, according to McQuivey.

"It is very hard to imagine consumers will run out and buy new TVs when they just upgraded in mass," McQuivey told AFP.

"I know we are all excited about how well 'Avatar' did, but it is very hard to jump on this band wagon when you don't see a path for bringing it into anyone's home."

The likelihood that adoption of 3-D TV may take years, as did the Blu-ray DVD format, didn't deter electronics makers.

Toshiba on Wednesday unveiled a flat-panel television that converts any digital video into 3-D as a wave of rich graphics crashed on the shore of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

"With Cell TV, everything is in 3-D," Toshiba America marketing vice president Scott Ramirez said while unveiling Cell TV to the press on the eve of CES in Las Vegas, which this year gathers some 2,500 industry exhibitors.

South Korean consumer electronics giant LG announced that this year it will launch 3-D TVs as well as a 3-D projector. Panasonic went 3-D with a "Live In It" campaign for its electronics.

South Korea's Samsung teamed up with DreamWorks Animation, maker of "Shrek" and other hit movies, and Technicolor on Wednesday in a push to bring more 3-D entertainment into the home.

Samsung, DreamWorks and Technicolor announced they have formed a "global strategic alliance" to "accelerate the worldwide deployment of in-home 3-D to mainstream consumers."

Growth of 3-D has been slow because of a lack of programming, the need to wear special glasses and the higher prices of 3-D sets, but last month's release of science fiction blockbuster "Avatar," a 3-D film by "Titanic" director James Cameron, has renewed interest in the medium.

"We're forging the future of entertainment in what we like to call a new dimension," Tim Baxter, president of the consumer electronics division at Samsung Electronics America, said at a Samsung press conference.

Samsung will be marketing a "complete 3-D entertainment offering for the home" featuring a 3-D television set, 3-D Blu-Ray player and "stylish active shutter 3-D glasses."

"3-D has had a bumpy ride since the first 3-D film back in 1922," Baxter said. "Today though technology has improved dramatically and it's clear people love watching 3-D in theaters.

3-D in theaters is "a gateway into the home," said Technicolor chief executive Frederic Rose.

 

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