3D Makes 2D Better? Maybe It's Not So Bad Then...

3D is here. Whether we like it or not, the push to drive 3D capable televisions into the home has begun, and there's nothing any of us can do to stop it. But a conversation I had with Panasonic's Group Marketing Manager for Viera, Matt Pearce, at their AV launch down in Melbourne the other day may have persuaded me that despite the fact that 10 percent of people can't see 3D and the technology gives me headaches, it's actually really good for TV technology on the whole.

The argument that has convinced me isn't actually anything to do with 3D. It's about 2D, and the fact that in Panasonic TVs at least, the challenge of making 3D work has resulted in a massive improvement for image reproduction for standard 2D pictures.

"The thing that you need to look at is that we've made this a better 2D TV by making it a 3D TV" Matt said of the VT20.

"The phosphors in this are different to the others. The cell structures are different in this TV. The phosphor speeds are faster. We've reduced the phosphor speed - the time it takes to create the pixel and take the pixel illumination away. We've reduced the time it takes for the phosphor to react. In V20 and above, we've reduced the pilot lamp - so, think of a pilot lamp in a plasma as a small amount of electricity that goes to the pixel to keep the phosphor stable.

"Think of it like a gas pilot light on your gas heater - you need a certain amount of power to keep the phosphor stable so it will instantly illuminate it, and that has black level implications. We've reduced the pilot lamp in V20 and above, so what that means is you're getting better black levels than ever, we give you lower power consumption, but we can still give you those rich, deep real powerful blacks.

"Meaningful improvements to 2D, so it's not just 'it's a 3D TV, I don't want this', it's 'the best 2D TV that also does 3D TV'" Matt added.

And when you couple the change in phosphor speeds with the fact that the engineers who worked on Pioneer's Kuro plasmas are now working on Panasonic's Viera range, the argument certainly becomes a little bit more enticing. The 50-inch VT20 has an RRP of $3,299, which is damned cheap considering the price of plasmas two years ago and the fact that you do get a $200 pair of 3D glasses in the box.


    What do you mean "the push to drive 3D capable televisions into the home has begun, and there’s nothing any of us can do to stop it".

    Umm, we're the consumers, we decide whether or not we buy the products. If no one buys the 3D television, then 3D television isn't going to take off no matter how much the manufacturers want it to.

    As for the improvements in technology that leads to a better 2D picture this would happened eventually, even if 3D TV never existed.

    I just can't see 3D TV going mainstream. Who wants to wear special 3D glasses around the house. For me watching TV is something I usually do while doing other things, wearing 3D glasses is going to be a hinderance.

      You won't be able to stop it short of not buying a new TV, ever. In a couple of years, 3D capability will be just another standard feature and all TVs will come with it, just like when colour TVs were introduced.

      It sounds like you think owning a 3D TV will *require* you to wear 3D glasses. It's an *option* - you can watch any show or movie, even a 3D movie, in plain 2D with no glasses just as you do now.

      I'm still baffled by all the strenuous opposition to 3D TV. Nobody's forcing you to buy an expensive new 3D TV immediately, and nobody will force you to actually watch anything in 3D when you inevitably end up with one (at minimal extra cost). Given that you can happily ignore the whole lot, why all the grumbling?

        You say that it is not being forced on us, but i recently called Village Cinema's customer support line to try to get them to show Alice In Wonderland in 2D, I was given a take it in 3D or wait for the DVD options. I know i could have just skipped the movie, but when will it get to a point that it is a take it or never see it kind of situation. Wont be for many years sure, but if 3D takes off (I am still hoping it doesn't) it will get to that point.

        I am all for the improvement in the TV Technology though, exciting stuff.

      @Pinball, I believe “the push to drive 3D capable televisions into the home has begun, and there’s nothing any of us can do to stop it” meant that all future TVs will start coming out with 3D, maybe not as a primary feature, but as a feature that is built in by default. Why would you not build it in? If they can do it at a cost that isn't much more if more at all, and it is of course optional to use, why not add the feature. There will be plenty of home videos, TV series, movies and games that will come out in 3D format over the next few years, and having the option to watch those in 3D will be great.

    For the first time I've read an article that makes me want to early adopt 3D TV


    I went to the shops today and saw samsung's 3D lcd tv. and I agree completely with what you say. I first saw monsters v aliens in 2D and it was stunning, the motion was completely smooth, no artifacts, no ghosting, just looked like the movie was natively at 100fps. I then got to see a 3D demo of football, and there is no denying that it is AWESOME! especially for sport, being able to tell where the players and ball were in 3D was amazing. BUT it just isn't there yet. it may be 120hz, but that just isn't quick enough. the first thing I noticed was a very noticeable amount of flickering. barely acceptable for a novel viewing experience, way too poor to have me drop 3k on one of these things! its gonna need 200hz at least, but thats ok, that will come. the second thing I noticed was haloing in some areas, where the image meant for one eye was leaking over into the other.

    and this got me thinking about a much bigger worry. LCDs can't do 3D? not the shutter glasses method anyway.

    up until now, LCD's somewhat massive disadvantage over plasma when it comes to the ability to refresh the screen quickly has only really been a small problem. they only really need to be able to refresh at like 60hz for games. for most video, they only need to be able to do 24hz. the thing is they have tricked us into thinking that they have all but solved this problem by saying that "oh, they are now 100hz, and 200hz" with various motion flow, frame interpolation methods. "they must be fine to do 3D if they can do 200hz then".

    not necessarily, the thing is, and always has been (it was the reason it came about), frame interpolation ("motion flow") was created to EASE the pressure on native LCD refresh rate! not push it harder!

    think about it, say you have the screen just refreshing at 25hz, one frame is there for a whole 25th of a second, and then all of sudden its like "BAM, display the next frame!" which might be alot different, and then it becomes noticeable that the screen takes a bit of time to "refresh" and transition to the new frame, you get ghosting. with frame interpolation, it runs at "100hz" but what this means is, instead of having to wait a 25th of a second and then, all of a sudden change to a brand new frame, 1/4 of the way into that 25th of a second, it gets a hint as to what the next frame is going to be! it gets and interpolated frame, that is only a little bit different that the current frame. what this means is that it can begin to refresh the screen sooner towards the next frame! not just wait the whole 1/25th of a second and then have to do it "instantly".

    the problem is that these hax all come undone with 3D, because the screen really does now need a NATIVE refresh rate of 120hz! (or, in my opinion, 200hz!!) it has to be able to switch back and forth between the two different frames for each eye at that rate! you can't lerp between them! your eyes don't lerp!

    so while they have been telling us that "oh, your lcd can do 200hz" really, all they could have been doing is just improving their hack, that stops them having to improve the real problem! the NATIVE refresh rate! no more BS G2G refresh rate marketing crap, they are just gonna have to make it awesome! and I'm not sure if the can.

    Plasmas on the other hand have all the while had MUCH better native refresh rate (like 100 times better?? not sure exactly).

    just a thought, I love my LCD, and I love my motion flow, but when it comes to 3D, my bet would be plasmas are much more suited to the task.

    be interested to here what others think.

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