3D tech has come a long way this year. In 2010, 3D TVs only made up about 10% of the high-end market. By 2011, that number had grown to about 25%. Now, almost half of all TVs are 3D-ready. With so many options, we just had to round up our top picks for 2012 3D TVs.
Jump to the full reviews here, or scroll down for more information on these three-dimensional thrillers.
Active or Passive?
Right now, there are two kinds of 3D tech exhibited by home TVs: active and passive. Their differences, pros, and cons are fairly simple. Here's what you need to know.
Active 3D TVs require battery-powered, synchronized glasses to process their 3D images. Many TVs include these glasses upon purchase, but some do not. Active Shutter glasses are more expensive than passive glasses, and must be charged up every 6-8 hours. On the plus side, Active 3D is often more immersive, with a deeper depth-of-field--more like IMAX.
Passive 3D TVs use glasses that need only be worn to work, like those old school blue- and red-tinted kind from the 80s. The plus side of passive glasses is that they're usually more lightweight and flexible than active shutter, and are much cheaper. The downside is that the 3D is usually not as deep and immersive as active shutter glasses.
VIZIO CinemaWide (MSRP $1,999) [Passive 3D]
VIZIO's CinemaWide, so named because of its wide "aspect ratio,":http://www.televisioninfo.com/News/TV-Aspect-Ratios-Explained.htm showed us the best home 3D we've ever seen. There's some science at hand here, but the simple fact is that the wider a TV's aspect ratio (not screen size), the more convincing and deep its 3D will be. The CinemaWide has an aspect ratio of 21:9 (versus the traditional ratio of 16:9 for HDTVs), which is just shy of the aspect ratio used by IMAX. The result? Deep, immersive 3D. The fact that it can achieve this kind of convincing depth-of-field using passive glasses is all the more reason to be impressed.
The CinemaWide comes with four free pairs of VIZIO brand passive 3D glasses.
h4. Samsung UN46ES6500 (MSRP $1,729) [Active 3D]
Samsung's ES6500 series is a 3D, smart TV that's just as stylish and functional as their most expensive models. It delivers flagship-quality 3D without the flagship price. The ES6500 also comes equipped with Samsung's "3D depth slider" component, which allows you to adjust the extremity of your 3D picture--great for avoiding crosstalk, or making shallow 3D yawn back into the unknown.
The ES6500 comes with two free pairs of Samsung brand active 3D glasses.
h4. LG 47LM6700 (MSRP $1,749) [Passive 3D]
The picture above illustrates just what's so great about LG's unique passive 3D technology. In short, the LM6700 emits light with a varying directional influence. Sprinkle in some science and math, and you've got passive 3D that looks great, is easy to use, and can even convert 2D content into mildly impressive 3D with the push of a button. LG has been leading the charge into better 3D since the onset of 2012, and the LM6700 is a fine example of that work in action.
The LM6700 comes with six free pairs of LG brand passive 3D glasses.
h4. Toshiba 47L7200U (MSRP $1,899) [Passive 3D]
Toshiba's L7200U series is a true gem. Not only does it have high-quality 3D, it has an especially effective 2D-to-3D converter, which Toshiba calls TriVector™. This may just be fancy wordplay, but it works none-the-less. This is Toshiba's flagship for this year, meaning it's the best of the best for Toshiba's TVs. Not only are you getting great 3D, you're getting great everything, and at a third the cost of other company's flagships. It's hard to go wrong with the L7200U.
The L7200U comes with four pairs of Toshiba brand passive 3D glasses.