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.