Dolby 3D
Glasses-free 3D TVs are still not good enough

15 Jan 2014 | Rasmus Larsen |

3D TVs were hard to find at CES 2014, but certain TV makers continue to showcase glasses-free 3D concepts. We saw the latest development in glasses-free 3D at CES, including Dolby 3D and Ultra-D. Glasses-free 3D technology is getting better, but it is still not there yet.

CES 2014: The state of glasses-free 3D

If you visited Sharp’s booth at CES you would see a gigantic 85-inch TV with 8K resolution – 16 times Full HD. If you moved a bit to the right, around a corner, you would see the same TV with glasses-free 3D technology, developed in collaboration with Philips and Dolby (Dolby 3D). You would think that a screen of this magnitude would look impressive, but it did not.

Dolby 3D
Sharp, Philips and Dolby’s 3D technology is nowhere near impressive

Sharp’s non-3D version of the 8K panel is wildly impressive, but the glasses-free 3D version is fuzzy, has narrow viewing angles, and lacks depth. It is not truly bad, at least not if you manage to find the sweet spot (the two white lines at the bottom have to line up), but it is certainly not great either. TV makers have said that higher resolutions will make glasses-free 3D possible, but since this is an 8K panel we simply think Sharp, Philips, and Dolby need to fundamentally change their 3D technology. This one is clearly not working.

To find the best glasses-free 3D technology at CES we actually had to head over to a relatively unknown player in the field; StreamTV Networks, who has developed Ultra-D. We have heard about the technology before, but this was the first time we saw it in action ourselves. We saw a demo of a PS3 game, movies and a news studio. The last one was most convincing, but also the one with least action in it. The game – Assassin’s Creed (not the new one) – was not too impressive, and it was clear that the resolution of the game was simply too low for 3D.

Ultra D – glasses-free 3D
StreamTV has the best glasses-free 3D technology right now, but it is not yet ready for primetime

We see potential in Ultra D, but high-resolution content is required if TV makers want their 3D TVs to shine. However, while we were more convinced by Ultra D than Sharp, Philips, and Dolby’s 3D technology we cannot say that we agree with the high praise we had heard. It is simply not good enough yet, and certainly not something we would want in our living room.

Samsung tried to wow spectators with a “glassless” 3D Ultra HD TV showing the Grand Canyon 3D Blu-ray, but the experience was bad, actually dizzying. We saw a few other glasses-free 3D concepts, too, but nothing that managed to break out of the what-is-this-crap club.

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