Sony Shows Off Enough 3D Stuff To Make Your Head Explode (In 3D Of Course)

Here at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, just about everyone is showing off 3D TVs. But at Sony’s oversized press conference on the eve of the big expo, the company went far beyond TVs, hyping up everything from 3D cameras and handicams to laptops and self-contained 3D headsets.

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Chief among the 3D products soon to hit the market is the 3D-enabled Vaio laptop. I tried it out for myself before the press conference. The picture quality was fine but I thought the 3D effect was a little underwhelming, mostly because of the size of the screen. Also, it requires a pair of battery-powered glasses for viewing the 3D, which means yet another thing to pack along with your laptop. If that’s not a problem for you, the 3D Vaio will be available this spring and Sony says it will retail for around $1,700.

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Sony also made a big push for its 3D-capable camcorders. The company claims that one in particular is the first consumer camcorder to shoot 3D in double HD. There will also be 3D versions of the company’s horribly named Bloggie camcorders.

Off the topic of 3D but on the topic of camcorders, Sony also showed off its first handicam with a built-in digital projector. It’s a nice idea but I wasn’t blown away by the quality of the projection being demonstrated at the Sony booth, especially for the price tag of $700.

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Back to 3D. Still in development stage were two interesting projects. The first is a portable 3D disc player that doesn’t require 3D glasses for viewing. The problem I had when looking at the prototypes on display was that the screen seemed to have a very limited set of angles from which it could be viewed. So while making it glasses-free would seem to make it a great product for entertaining a car-full of kids, only the child sitting in the middle would be getting the full effect.

The other prototype was yet another attempt by a company to create an immersive viewing experience by putting a 3D TV in a personal headset (see photo at top of the story). I was able to slip one of these monsters on and actually felt it had promise. The only problem is that the device is so heavy it can’t easily be held up to the user’s face. Also, since each eye is looking at a different screen, the headset requires measuring and adjusting for each user’s pupillary distance. I can imagine the arguments that would happen if one set were to be shared among a whole family — or even a few adult roommates.

Sony would give neither a timeline nor a speculative price point for either of these in-development products.

In addition to the 3D products, Sony touted its upcoming 3D movies and video games. While most the crowd was giddy when Green Hornet stars Seth Rogen and Jay Chou came out to show off a 3D clip of their movie, the coolest comin’-at-ya attraction was a preview of the PlayStation 3 game Uncharted 3, where the effect seemed less like an attempt to cash in and more integral to the experience. Of course, it was a 30-second clip, so take that statement with a big grain of salt.

Some other things of interest from the Sony show:

*The company has teamed up with Time Warner Cable to produce a TV set that requires no set-top box (for Time Warner Cable customers, that is).

*Aside from the Uncharted 3 demo, there was no real discussion of the PS3 or the PSP.

*In addition to bragging about all the tweaks to the Bravia line of TVs, Sony also said that many of the new TVs will be faced with Gorilla Glass from Corning, which will apparently make it much more difficult for morons to do things like this.

CES proper kicks off bright and early tomorrow morning and I, along with the Consumer Reports crew, will be there all day and into the night.

Comments

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  1. Alvis says:

    I finally got a good deal on a used Virtual Boy a couple of years ago, and was really impressed. I mean, I get why it failed, but 3D tech was really advanced, even back in 1995.

  2. SG-Cleve says:

    Now if only they could make real life 3D…

  3. Suisei says:

    I am not sure how I should feel about this whole 3D-Revolution. It is definitely a really cool technology, but I guess what I really want these days is a high quality projector. I may get one when a decent PC video card is released that supports the technology.

  4. jp7570-1 says:

    Are we looking at potentially another format war? This time 2D vs 3D? Look back at the previous format wars and it is usually the lack of content that kills the technology, even if that tech is superior. (For instance, Beta was the format preferred by pros, but lost the consumer market to VHS.)

    I will be more interested in 3D when two things happen – when sufficient content is developed to support it (not just blockbuster movies), and when the tech advances to the point we don’t need those silly glasses.

    • kc2idf says:

      I don’t think it really adds up to a format war. When all of the content is digital, manipulation is very easy. 3D equipment can readily display 2D content, and 3D content can always be flattened by omitting one of the two views. As such, the compatibility problems that define a format war are really not here.

  5. tiz says:

    if you want to see stuff in 3D, go outside, perhaps?

  6. kc2idf says:

    Just a comment on the $700 camcorder w/ projector . . . $700 is well below the point where projectors start to get good. There are acceptable cameras below this point, but I suspect that you need to adjust your expectations for a camera, with a projector in a small package for $700. I am in no way surprised that the picture was unimpressive at that price.

  7. Rachacha says:

    Predictions, we will NEVER see any of this crap, and if we do, it will be in 3(D) years when manufacturers are connecting #D everything to life support because consumers don’t want it!

    Note to manufacturers…we want 4K!

    • kc2idf says:

      I’ll take you up on that 4K!

      For those not familiar with 4K, it’s the next step up from HD. HD in 1080p (or 1080i, if you must) is about a 2 megapixel image. 2K, a mode used in digital cinemas and film production, is a slightly wider picture (1.89:1) with a 2.2 megapixel resolution.

      By comparison, 4K also has the 1.89:1 aspect ratio and is a, 8.8 megapixel image. Really sweet!

      In keeping with video naming conventions, though, they will probably call it 2160p.

      Back to 3D for a second, I have seen a 3D camcorder on store shelves. If I remember right, it had an $1800 price tag on it at Ultimate Electronics in Albany, NY.

      I am, actually, a 3D fan, but will take higher resolution in 2D over 3D any day.

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        Higher res is nice, but useless at typical viewing distances. It’s best for “In your face” video gaming where you are only a few feet from the screen. For example, on a 50 inch screen at 10 ft, most people can’t tell the difference between 720p and 1080p. I would guess that at 2160p, you would have to be less than 4 ft from a 50 inch screen to tell the difference.

        Here’s a chart that will help:
        http://www.fatwallet.com/static/attachments/22572_resolution_chart.png

      • Evan says:

        4K sounds MUCH sexier than 2160, AND it has the advantage of sounding four times as good instead of just twice. There’s no way this will be marketed as 2160p. Also, thanks for the explanation. I’ve heard the term 4K a few times but never really looked into what resolution it actually was.

        • kc2idf says:

          It IS four times as nice. Twice the resolution across, and twice the resolution top to bottom. Twice twice is four times.

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      We want 3D without glasses.

      AND!
      Note to manufacturers of TV sets: We want a decent program guide. The technology exists, Most channels transmit it, and there’s TVGOS (TV Guide On-Screen) yet the best you get on most sets these days is “on now” or “Now/Next”. I know a lot of stations EPGs run out to a week ahead, with full program descriptions. Better yet, “Connected” sets and devices could access this thingy we call the “internets” and download extended program guides from places like TitanTV. C’mon, if you can access Netflix and Hulu from a TV, why not a simple thing like a program guide?

  8. bendee says:

    13 comments and no one posted this yet? For shame!

    http://meteoryty.pg.gda.pl/rozne/hihi/!Nowe12/HeadExplode.gif

  9. MonkeyMonk says:

    I think everyone except the electronic manufacturers realizes all this home 3D stuff is just a passing fad. I hope nobody takes too big bath on this whole thing.

  10. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I’m hoping to get another 5-10 years out of our CRT TV that we bought back around ’96. We’ll upgrade to whatever the standard technology is that fleshes itself out by then.

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I wish they’d spend more time trying to make high-quality 2-D movies rather than trying to making awful 3-D movies look cooler. Avatar seems to be the exception that proves the rule.

  12. Buckus says:

    I like the autostereoscopic display on the cameras, but for TV’s, the whole 3D glasses isn’t going to fly for me. And I’m betting that holds true for the general population at large.

    Sorry, Sony, putting all your eggs in the 3D basket is going to be a bust.

    - signed, The Future

  13. AllanG54 says:

    One of the best movies I’ve seen in awhile, “Unstoppable” was in 2D. There wasn’t any need for 3D and I find in most movies there isn’t. I saw Avatar in the theater in 3D and I watch it at home on my 50″ in 2D and to me it’s just as good. I just don’t see this catching on until manufacturers stop making 2D altogether and it’s the only thing out there.