Are 3D TVs Totally Dead?

If you want 3D, you're going to need to go to the theater.

Credit: / Lee Neikirk

Televisions with 3D functionality were doomed from the start.

In a product category where the goal is to get bigger and brighter every year, a video format that halves resolution and reduces light output (by forcing the viewer to wear what are essentially sunglasses), how could 3D have ever survived?

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Now, we can start writing the obituary. According to a recent report by Forbes, both Samsung and Philips (or its European division, at least) have stated their intention not to include 3D in any 2016 TVs. Philips' product strategist Danny Tack even went so far as to boldly pronounce "3D is dead" during a recent event in Belgium.

This isn't really a surprise. Vizio abandoned 3D back at the beginning of 2015, and many of the 2016 LG TVs that will include 3D functionality (there aren't very many) are carryovers from last year. Sony doesn't appear to be pursuing 3D as of yet, and while Panasonic is giving the old third dimension a go, it may bow out of the U.S. market this year.

3D TV is stepping aside to make room for new HDR capable TVs, which offer a much more impressive picture.

While it's possible 3D could mount a comeback in glasses-free form, in my opinion the format isn't dying so much as being replaced by something better. Because of the way it works, current 3D formatting cuts content resolution in half, sending one image to each eye. The polarization of 3D glasses also (generally) darkens the image and diminishes contrast.

The basic functionality of 3D runs contrary to ongoing efforts to develop and promote high dynamic range (HDR) content and displays. Much more than 3D, HDR is the next step in display technology, involving improvements to resolution, color, contrast, and picture depth.

Manufacturers like Philips and Samsung are going full steam ahead with HDR rather than continuing to support 3D, and we really can't blame them. High Dynamic Range looks awesome, with or without sunglasses.

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