Should You Buy a 3DTV Now?

In this post-Avatar era, gadgeteers have been bathed in the promising glow of the latest 3DTVs. You may well ask, is 3DTV for real, is it a fad, should you pay the premium for a 3DTV or are you better off buying a standard HDTV? Although we’ve been impressed by the 3DTVs we’ve seen, we’re not convinced you shouldn’t just go with standard HDTV until prices come down and more programming becomes available.

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Here are some reasons we think you could feel good about holding off on a 3DTV for now and buying a standard HDTV instead.

1. Very Little 3D Content and Sets Are Expensive
3DTV may be over-hyped. Yes, we are all caught up in the post-Avatar, 3D craze right now, but, with only a few worthwhile 3D movies to speak of, very little TV programming and no major video games scheduled for immediate release, we wonder if now is the time to invest in 3DTV? 3DTV is pretty cool for sure, but it lacks content, and is more expensive than an equivalent HDTV. Keep in mind that the premium you pay for being an early adopter of a 3DTV might very well pay for another HDTV set for your home although, we suspect 3DTV prices will fall over time buy youtube likes.

2. LED Backlit LCD TVs
LED backlit LCDs are becoming the standard in HDTVs. Using LEDs as backlighting, instead of fluorescents (CCFL), new LCD HDTVs produce a bright picture with great viewing angles while saving both energy and space. Yes, most new 3DTVs use LED backlighting too, but the influx of new stock might motivate shops to move current LED backlit LCD TVs off the shelves at attractive prices.

3. High Refresh Rate and Internet Connectivity
Until 3DTVs become a better buy, we think you can future-proof your HDTV with features like high refresh rate and Internet connectivity. Internet connectivity will revolutionize your entertainment routine, and can be found on many non-3D TVs. Thanks to services like Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, YouTube and Boxee, the internet is becoming the go-to source for all sorts of media. It is accessible on-demand, across multiple platforms, and, often, completely free. Manufacturers, now, are including broadband, wired and wireless, on many TVs so you can stream your favorite TV shows, YouTube channels, music, and movies, right into your living room.

4. 3D Glasses Could Be a Showstopper
At around $150 a pair, 3D glasses are not cheap. The latest 3D glasses are not the simple disposable lenses of old. These new specs are high-tech wireless devices that work in tandem with your 3DTV to physically block light as it travels toward your eye. Expect to shell out as much as $600 a set for a family of 4. To make matters worse, every parent knows that this equation: Kids + Delicate x Expensive = Trouble.

5. Other Purchases May Be Required With Your 3DTV
Speaking of costly peripherals like 3D glasses, if you buy a 3DTV and want to watch Full HD (1080p) 3D content you won’t be able to use your current DVD or Blu-Ray player. You’ll need a special 3D-Ready, Blu Ray device in order to watch Full HD 3D content. Admittedly, you’ll be able to watch “Half HD” 3D on many “transport” mediums like standard cable or satellite and standard DVD players and you might not even notice the difference but if you want the best quality 3DTV you’ll be looking at a new Blu-ray player and a new AVR (receiver).

Bottom Line on 3DTV Now
We believe sound bargains can be found in standard HDTVs. Sure, you can’t invite a bunch of friends over to re-watch Avatar in 3D, but then again, could you afford to anyway? We say, if you don’t want to pay the premium to have the first 3DTV on your block then go for the HDTV that offers the best picture quality in your price range and make sure it has features like high refresh rate and Internet connectivity.

3D “Ready” HDTV Might Be Best Bet
If you want to hedge your bet you could always look for an HDTV set that can be made to display 3D content when you’re ready. A 3D “ready” HDTV will have a high refresh rate (120Hz or higher), HDMI 1.4 to hook up to a 3D Ready Blu-ray player or receiver, a USB hookup for a 3D glasses interface box, and the TV will have the necessary processing power or 3D “engine” to decode and display 3D content. The problem right now is we’re not sure how you can identify a true 3D Ready HDTV and what level of 3D (Full or Half HD) it’s actually “ready” for (comments welcome). All we can say is stay tuned for more information and be careful about believing the marketing hype or sales pitch. And, of course, you’ll still need to buy enough glasses to outfit all the “viewers” in your household.

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