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Friday, January 8, 2010

TV makers ready to test depths of market for 3-D

The biggest TV makers (Panasonic, LG, Sony, Samsung, Vizio) began revealing their 3D models Wednesday before the official opening of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Tim Baxter, president of Samsung Electronics Co.'s consumer division, said in an interview that 10 to 14 percent of the roughly 35 million TVs sold in the U.S. this year will be 3-D-capable.

Technically speaking, 3D viewing in the home has been possible for the past few years, but there has been no good way to get 3D movies and shows to watch. However, that obstacle was removed recently with plans for a 3D version of the Blu-ray disc. Viewing 3-D discs will require new Blu-ray players that could cost a few hundred dollars, to the possible annoyance of people who invested in regular Blu-ray players in the past several years. However, PlayStation 3 owners are in luck: Sony says that a free software upgrade will enable them to play 3D movies.

ESPN and Direct-TV recently announced they plans for 3D channels. Toshiba and Samsung aren't waiting for 3D programming. Instead, they indicated that their TVs will be able to convert 2D to 3D on the fly. Toshiba plans roll out a new line of five TVs this year that will perform the 2D to 3D conversion in a separate box with a powerful processor similar to one used in the Sony PlayStation 3.

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