How to buy the best 3D TV

If you want to buy the best 3D TV for your money, it pays to do your research. In this guide we’ll walk you through choosing between the different types of 3D and how to make sure you buy the best 3D TV possible.

What type of the 3D TV should you buy?

The first and most important decision to make is what type of 3D TV you want. There are two types of 3D TV, which are named based on the type of glasses they use.

Active Shutter is the more common standard and is used by Sony, Panasonic and Samsung and many other manufacturers.

Passive 3D is mostly used by LG, though it also has some Active Shutter 3D TVs. Passive 3D TVs use the same technology as cinema screens. LG calls its technology Cinema 3D due to the similarity.

How to buy 3D TV
Choosing your 3D TV

What’s the difference between Active Shutter and Passive 3D?

Active Shutter is so called as the glasses are synched by an infared signal, which actively blocks off the image in each eye at 50 frames per second. This tricks the brain into seeing 3D.

Passive 3D works by filtering light so that each eye sees a slightly different image, thus creating the illusion of depth.

Active Shutter 3D TV Pros & Cons

Active Shutter glasses are expensive, but unlike passive 3D systems, Active 3D TVs display Full HD (1080p) resolution images to the viewer. This results in superior image quality more akin to normal HD TV.

Pros of Active Shutter 3D TVs:

  • Full HD experience – Active shutter can deliver full 1080p HD, which results in crisper, more detailed visuals in 3D films.

Cons of Active Shutter 3D TVs:

  • Battery powered glasses – Battery needs to be replaced or recharged
  • Sophisticated electronics – Glasses are more expensive due to working parts
  • Active glasses manufacturer dependent – Most active shutter glasses will only work with their own brand

Passive 3D TV Pros & Cons

Passive glasses are cheaper and more compatible than Active Shutter. Passive glasses from any manufacturer will work on any 3D TV. Even glasses from the cinema will work. Image quality can be a problem, though, so check to make sure you’re happy with what you see.

Pros of Passive 3D TVs:

  • Glasses not battery powered – No need to replace or charge batteries
  • No electronics in glasses – Glasses are very cheap
  • Easy compatiblity – All passive glasses can be used on all passive systems

Cons of Passive 3D TVs:

  • Reduction in image quality – Passive 3D reduces the image resolution on screen

How to judge 3D image quality

When looking to buy the best 3D TV it’s good to watch 3D content on the TV you’re thinking of buying.

You can normally do this in a shop. When you do there are two important issues to look out for when judging the image quality.

Viewing Angles

3D is at its best when viewed directly on, but this might not be convenient depending on the layout of your room at home. Make sure you view the TV in the store from all the angles at home. Some TVs cope better with being viewed at various angles than others, so if your favourite chair at home isn’t pointed directly at the TV, it’s well worth checking the TV’s viewing angles.

This is doubly important if you decide to buy an active shutter system. Active shutter TVs project an infared signal to the glasses, which can be lost if not being viewed at the right angle. Don’t be afraid to wonder around the TV with the glasses on, making sure that the signal is not lost.

Cross Talk

3D content is created by filming with a dedicated 3D camera, which takes two slightly different shots from different angles of the same subject. These images are then essentially layered on top of each other to create the 3D effect.

Some 3D TV’s suffer from cross talk, where the two images don’t quite match up exactly, and this can lead to ghosting on the screen. When viewing a TV, make sure that the images are crisp and clear, with no visible ghosting around the edge.

How to get a cheap 3D TV deal

When purchasing a TV, the best time of year to buy is the start of the year, between January and March. This applies to 3D models as well. The reason for this is that manufacturers announce their new models at this time of year. In turn, retailers reduce the price of the previous year’s models in order to clear the shelves for the newer models. As an example, the Panasonic 50-inch VT30 currently costs around £2,000, whilst last year’s model, the VT20, has dropped to around £1,300.

It is also worth looking online, using price comparison sites. If you can, have a hands-on play with the model you are interested in in a retail store before making a purchase online. It’s also worth mentioning any online prices to retailers, they might lower the cost for you.

Planning your purchase

Before you take the plunge on buying a 3D TV, it’s important to consider the other aspects that are important to you when watching television.

3D might be very appealing, but you won’t be watching 3D TV all the time.

As 3D TV’s tend to be higher-end models, you will find that there are many features available to you, including:

  • Integrated Freeview HD or Freesat tuners
  • Smart TV (internet enabled)
  • Skype functionality
  • USB PVR ability
  • Dedicated app stores

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