3D active vs. passive

Active vs. passive 3D
Active 3D vs. Passive 3D (3D Cinema)

04 Mar 2011 | Rasmus Larsen |

In 2011 LG plans to release the so-called Cinema 3D TVs utilizing the much cheaper 3D glasses that you know from cinemas. This is the first move towards passive 3D as a response to active 3D with expensive 3D glasses that was utilized in all 2010 3D TVs. But what differentiates these two technologies? What are the advantages and disadvantages? In this article we will give you the answers.

Brief introduction

In 2010 all 3DTVs were based on the active 3D technology (except a few passive 3DTV in the UK). In 2011 LG and Vizio want to offer an alternative with passive 3D - or Cinema 3D as LG calls it in their LW6500 and LW5600 ranges. Here we look at the pros and cons of the two technologies.

You can recognize an active 3D TV by its heavy and bulky 3D glasses such as the ones shown below.


The passive 3D technology uses very cheap and light 3D glasses.


I will not provide a deep technical introduction to both technologies but briefly sum up the principles.

Active 3D: Two alternating images are displayed for the right eye and left eye. It is the shutter glasses that separate these two pictures by closing and opening the shutters for each eye. When these images are combined by the human brain we see depth.
Passive 3D (3D Cinema): The two images for the right and left eyes are displayed at the same time on the TV. Line 1 contains picture information for the right eye, line 2 for the left eye, line 3 for the right eye, line 4 for the left eye etc. The polarized 3D glasses separate the light so that the two eyes see different pictures.

Only LG and Vizio have launched passive 3DTVs but you already know the passive 3D system from movie cinemas. All manufacturers including LG and Vizio have active 3DTVs.

Active 3D vs. passive 3D (Cinema 3D)

Below you find a table with the different manufacturers and their current 3D technology.


But the most interesting aspect is the pros and cons, naturally. See the table below for an overview.


However, we should also note that the active 3D technology is different when you compare LCD/LED to plasma. The main differences are outlined below. Please note that crosstalk is"ghosting" in 3D images when information for the right and left eyes is not correctly separated by the screen.


A new format war?

The pressing question after this short introduction is probably if were on the verge of a new format war. You know, VHS and Betamax fought a battle, Minidisc lost to the CD and HD-DVD and Blu-ray lived side by side for some time.

Were not on the verge of a format war
Were not on the verge of a format war


But passive 3D (Cinema 3D) vs. active 3D (with the expensive 3D glasses) is a different story. The technologies can live in perfect symbiosis.

Actually its pretty much the same story as LCD versus plasma. Both technologies are alive and kicking and both have advantages its really up to the consumer to decide. The same is true for passive and active 3D technology.

You cant use the same 3D glasses but you can use all of the same 3D Blu-ray players, movies, games etc. In some magical way the manufacturers have agreed on a standard for 3D Blu-rays and therefore you dont have to worry about the actual screen.

Read our first experiences with LGs passive 3DTVs in this article:
First experiences with LGs Cinema 3D TVs
To read more about 3D see our 3D coverage page.



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