Is Sky 3D taking television in to the next dimension?

— Siobhan Gallagher contributed with this report

It’s fair to say that Sky’s launch of the country’s first 3D only TV channel last weekend is part of probably the biggest revolution to hit TV since the advent of colour.

Their channel is solely dedicated to movies and sport at this time, with the coverage of the recent Ryder Cup Golf being the massive launch pad that Sky 3D needed, having initially launched the service in pubs around the country showing Premiership football and other sports.

While the technology will no doubt be shaping the future face of television, the question that needs to be asked is, will it be successful enough to last the course?

For one, the technology is very expensive at the moment. A new 3D-ready TV will set you back around £2000 with companies such as Samsung, LG, Sony and Panasonic all bringing out their own versions. Meanwhile the pairs of glasses needed for the technology will cost around £100. However, you do receive a free pair when you buy a TV.

Also you will need a Sky+ HD box which will also cost £61 a month. Despite the price that comes with it, BSKYB are confident that between 50,000 to 200,000 will subscribe to the service by midway 2011, according to Media Week.

The other big factor that comes with the price is the viewing quality. Having undertaken a free viewing in both Comet and Currys Lincoln stores, I believe that the picture quality is fantastic and has certainly added a new dimension to the viewing experience. However, despite this, the problems affecting this service are the use of the special 3D glasses.

After watching the screen for around 5 minutes, I began to have a bit of a headache, so the idea of using this for a few hours a day doesn’t leave a good impression on anyone who is wanting to use this service permanently. Watching a movie through blu-ray with ridiculous amounts of CGI, Monsters v Aliens for example, makes it seem that you’re actually looking at a video game, as opposed to a movie. This, therefore, does not make for a pleasant viewing experience and strips the movie of its supposed real life narrative.


3D televisions are expected to become a part of everyday life. Photo: LGEPR
 

Dylan Richards, a media production graudate from the University of Lincoln, believes that the idea of household 3D television is just a fad and an unnecessary novelty. “Firstly the film you’re watching has to be bright, otherwise the picture quality would be too dark,” he says. “The thought of 3D-TV is just an unnecessary fad that will be gone soon. It’s the most expensive novelty of the decade, which is ruining everything.

“It’s too much money just to spend on something that probably shouldn’t be around yet, and not for a long time, and it‘s making everything be turned into 3D. It’s only recently that HD has become available, and also we haven’t even taken in the digital switch yet, but we’re already heading towards the idea of 3D.

“They picked probably the worst time to bring it out, what with the recession and everything. I just don’t think anyone would be interested in the thought of this.” He also believes the use of the glasses is also a hindrance. “Obviously using it for a small period already starts to affect your eyesight and gives you a headache, so it’s not really safe to be using it for a few hours a day.”

Toshiba plan to prevent this, after unveiling their designs for a 56-inch prototype TV, which will come without the need of glasses. This is scheduled to be released in Japan at the end of the year. For this to work, the viewer would have to sit at a certain angle and very close to the screen in order to experience the vision, with a filter placed upon the top of the TV set. They will also release a 12 inch set costing around £900.

The only positive surrounding the pricing range is when 3D TV becomes obligatory, the prices will become a lot cheaper as the next wave of new technology will be coming soon, in the same way the prices for HD ready TVs have gone down. However if 3D Televisions are still available in the next three years, it will be a huge surprise.

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