Since displaying 3D video requires a sophisticated, very fast, very responsive TV screen, 3D TVs boast some of the best 2D pictures out there. A: Nope. This might come as a pleasant surprise if you thought you could only watch the limited amount of 3D material that's been released so far. But you will see a superb picture because 3D screens are more technologically advanced, and produce the best-looking 2D pictures currently available. Want to watch 3D TV? You need to wear a pair of 3D glasses that are compatible with your 3D set.
Q: Why do I have to wear glasses to watch 3D? A: Glasses are a key part of how 3D TV works. A 3D TV alternates between "left eye" and "right eye" versions of an image very, very quickly. Whether your 3D TV is active or passive, the glasses ensure that the correct eye sees the correct image at all times. If you try watching a 3D program without 3D glasses, the image will look blurry. TV makers are working on "glasses-free" 3D TVs, but the general consensus is that they're several years away from being ready for the market. Q: Do all manufacturers use the same 3D technology?
A: Actually, there are some differences worth knowing about. First, be sure you understand the difference between active and passive 3D TV.
Both types can provide a great-looking 3D picture, but one or the other might better suit your viewing preferences. Once you've decided on either active or passive 3D, there are still some other technological differences, like in the way different brands of active 3D TVs communicate with the 3D glasses.
That's why you should double-check when buying 3D glasses that they're compatible with your 3D TV — often, that'll mean choosing glasses from the same brand. Q: What's the resolution of 3D video? A: That depends on both the video source and the TV.
A 3D Blu-ray movie played on a 3D Blu-ray player is the highest-resolution source to feed a 3D TV: there are actually two video streams, each with full x pixel resolution. That ensures that both your right and left eye will see a full p high-def image. Resolution is typically x pixels, which means each eye sees a p image. It'll look good, but won't look as crisp as 3D video from Blu-ray.
A: If you've seen a recent 3D movie in a theater, you probably wore the free glasses that were provided. These passive glasses have polarized lenses — they look a lot like standard sunglasses. These glasses are virtually identical to the polarized glasses that are used with passive 3D TVs, so watching a passive 3D TV is very similar to the 3D movie experience in a theater.
Active 3D TVs that use battery-powered shutter glasses can also provide an immersive 3D experience. The shutter glasses cycle times per second to alternately block out the left or right lens in coordination with the video frames flashing on the TV screen. Some people are aware of a slight flickering sensation which can be distracting. A: There are a few key pieces — see our question on how 3D TV works for more details. Make sure the ones you choose are compatible with your brand of 3D TV.
To anyone not wearing glasses, a 3D TV picture will look blurry and distorted. The best example is a 3D-capable Blu-ray player playing a 3D movie. Most recent HDMI cables should be up to the job, especially if they're 2 meters or less in length. If you're buying new cables, look for ones labeled "high-speed," "1. Finally, though it's not strictly necessary to watch 3D, you should also consider a 3D-capable home theater receiver.
Check out our question about 3D receivers for more info. If you plan on switching your 3D video sources through your receiver, you'll need one capable of passing those 3D video signals on to your TV. These days, virtually all home theater receivers are 3D-capable. Q: I've got a home theater receiver that can't pass 3D video signals. A: Strictly speaking, a 3D-capable home theater receiver isn't essential to a 3D TV system see our question on putting together a 3D system for what is.
But if you plan on switching your 3D video sources through your receiver, you'll need one capable of passing those 3D video signals on to your TV. Now, if you don't have a 3D-capable receiver, you could run 3D video signals directly to your TV via HDMI, and run an optical or coaxial digital audio cable to your receiver for surround sound. That's a less-than-ideal solution though. Having a 3D-capable receiver in your 3D TV system gives you a couple of key benefits.
Those formats require an HDMI connection, so optical or coaxial digital won't cut it. Check out our article about setting up your receiver for more info on video connections and HDMI switching. And for more info on Blu-ray player connections, see our article about hooking up your Blu-ray player. A: No. One exception: if you bought one of the early 3D-ready Mitsubishi DLP models in , you'll need to buy a special converter box to make your set work with current 3D technology.
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Most recent, good-quality HDMI cables should be up to the job, especially if they're 2 meters or less in length. Blu-ray players that can play 3D Blu-ray discs are very reasonably priced and provide some added future-proofing. Q: What will I be able to watch in 3D? A: More and more 3D Blu-ray movies are being released. And check with your cable or satellite TV provider for details on which 3D channels are available in your area. Of course, this won't look as convincing as true 3D — that is, movies and TV shows originally shot in 3D — but it will let you enjoy your TV's 3D capabilities more often.
Q: I've heard about 3D TV channels. A: From what we've heard, no, at least for now. Because of the way cable and satellite providers are breaking up the 3D signal two p images , instead of the two p images you get from Blu-ray their existing equipment will be able to handle it. Should they upgrade to higher-resolution 3D channels in the future, you'll likely need new set-top boxes.
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While you shouldn't expect to watch 3D video from the kitchen while you're making dinner, you should be able to get the 3D effect even if you're sitting off to the side. A: That depends on what kind of 3D TV you have. But most of the 3D TV models currently available are active 3D, which means they require battery-powered "active shutter" glasses. A: Yes. However you will only be able to play it back in 2D mode.
A: The problem is likely that one of the components in your system doesn't support 3D video. For example, if you try to play a 3D Blu-ray movie on a TV that can't display 3D, the TV won't know what to do with the signal and the screen will be blank. The same thing can happen if you're routing your 3D Blu-ray player's video signal through a non-3D home theater receiver. The receiver won't be able to pass 3D video on to your TV, resulting in an empty screen.
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Many 3D Blu-ray players require you to choose between 3D and 2D viewing when you load a Blu-ray disc. If you choose 3D, the player switches to 3D mode, and you have a short amount of time to confirm your selection. If you don't confirm, the player assumes you might not be able to see the image, and reverts back to 2D. Go into your TV's display menus and select "Auto" or something similar — that tells the TV to display any incoming signals, 2D or 3D, rather than only 3D. A: Short answer: no. Some people may have those kinds of reactions when watching an active 3D TV with shutter glasses, at least initially.
One trick that's worked for some folks here at Crutchfield: don't try to focus on the background, just watch the main action in the foreground. Q: I'm wearing the right 3D glasses, but I'm still not seeing a 3D picture.
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A: If the glasses are the active shutter type, first make sure they're turned on — there's usually a power button somewhere on the frames although some of the latest glasses switch on automatically when picked up. If they won't turn on, then the battery may need to be recharged or replaced. If the glasses are powered on and you're still not seeing a 3D picture, double-check that your 3D TV and 3D video source are both in 3D mode.
Next, check that both your cable box and 3D TV are in 3D viewing mode.
Most new cable boxes will already come with 3D enabled. If yours wasn't installed very recently, you may need to turn it on manually. Depending on your cable box, you may need to manually switch back to 2D mode for 2D viewing, though some newer models can handle this automatically.