To Early-Adopt or Not to Early-Adopt: That is the Question

Fred Allen once said "Imitation is the sincerest form of television."  With 3D becoming increasingly mainstream in movie theatres, television inevitably must follow.

The technology is here.  Flatscreen TVs long have had oversampled frame rates, LCD shutter glasses are a simpler technology than the LCD television you might watch through them, and Blu-Ray players hold oodles of data.  In fact, I'm surprised 3D TV didn't come out sooner.

Now I must confess that I'm one of the few folks around here who hasn't bought a flat screen TV yet. We're still watching a 27" CRT television.  Problem is, it works just fine.  And every time I look at the flatscreens in stores, I get the idea that more detail in the picuture just lets you see how awful the piture really looks.  Or, as more aptly stated in a 1968 book of quotations I have, "The more you see of television, the more you like it less".  And, "A big television set makes a bad program that much worse."  Doesn't a big screen only make the wasteland of television vaster?

Despite all that, I think the time has about come for me to buy a large flat screen.  However, I'm in the unfortunate position of being either a late adopter of flatscreens or an early adopter of 3D TV.  The obvious solution to this dilemma, of course, is to wait a couple of years and hope that 3D TV soon becomes something even Grandma has - like her microwave oven.

I'm not sure which way I'll go in this yet, but I've been gravitatating towards buying a large 2D LED TV.  However, I got a chance yesterday to try out a 3D television at a local electronics store.  I have to admit to being less than fully impressed.  There were two basic problems, 1) there wasn't complete cutoff of the picture from the opposite eye, leading to an annoying shadow effect, 2) the non-3D reflections off the glass of the panel were distracting within the otherwise 3D world I was immersed in.

To be fair, though, I think both problems are solvable.  The second problem is due to the situation of displaying the TV within a large electronics store; at home, you could just control the room lighting as needed.  The first problem can probably be solved with better, that is, more expensive, LCD shutter glasses.  However, I heard that unlike the throwaway polarized glasses you get at the movie theater, the shutter glasses cost about $100 each.  So, that's another $500 for a typical family of five, on top of about $1000 extra for the 3D TV itself.

Although the experience I had makes me less likely to become an early adopter of 3D TV, I think it's a technology that will eventually become mainstream, probably must faster than color TV itself did - maybe within just a few years.

For me, though, another way out of my early adopter/late adopter dilemma is to buy a cheap 42" LCD flat screen and then wait for a couple of years for 3D TV to become mainstream.  Or, I can just wait until my CRT TV gives out.  To misquote Shakespeare:

To adopt, or not to adopt, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the eye to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous resolution,
Or to take arms against a sea of pixels
And by upgrading win them. To buy—to see,
Much more; and by a blink to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That CRT is heir to: 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To buy, to see;
To see, perchance to dream—ay, there's the rub:
For in that sight of 3D what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this planar coil,
Must give us pause—there's the respect
That makes 3D television of so long life.