CES Press Day: Is the Consumer Ready for 3D? 
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Written by Mike Flacy   
Thursday, 07 January 2010

Another CES Press Day has come and gone.  Filled with press conferences from all the major CE manufacturers, the video side of the business was in full swing.  The huge push for all the companies seems to be in 3D technology.  LG, Toshiba, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung are all betting that the typical CE consumer is going to latch onto 3D tech as easily as HDTV caught on.  Each company is pursuing this effort with different partners.  For instance, Samsung brought out Jeffrey Katzenberg (the Head of Dreamworks) and Frederic Rose (the head of Technicolor) in matching 3D glasses to announce their partnerships.  Panasonic is partnering with DirecTV and Sony is dealing with ESPN. 

Samsung and Dreamworks PartnershipThe major players are betting that consumers will be willing to sit at home and put on 3D glasses to watch content.  They also believe that consumers will want to watch 2D content in 3D via a video conversion process.  While these TVs were seen at CES 2009 last year, there seems to be a large manufacturing push to release 3D HDTVs within the coming months; likely due to the success of 3D movies this year like Avatar and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.  The effort is likely a result of the recent decision by the Blu-ray association to set a standard for 3D on Blu-ray players.

All the major players announced 3D compatible Blu-ray players as well.  LG is taking an interesting approach by including a 250GB hard drive built into their new player (the BD590), ideally to store large video files.   Panasonic is rolling out 3D capable HTiB units and Sony is upgrading the firmware in the Playstation 3 to allow for 3D support as well.  There was little information on other companies allowing for firmware updates to increase functionality in recently purchased players.

Samsung is taking an interesting direction in HDTV app development, supposedly allowing for open development within their app store.  There’s little information on how the app store works or if smaller developers will be able to monetize any of their creations on the app store.  Samsung did announce app partners such as Pandora, Picassa, Vudu, Netflix and Blockbuster. 

Video phone functionality was also another intriguing announcement.  Panasonic announced a direct relationship with Skype for their network phone functionality (LG as well), but it’s likely that Skype will develop an app for all manufacturers.  Toshiba promised HD video up scaling with their video phone due to their proprietary cell processor.  While the functionality is impressive, we wonder if the consumer will want to be interrupted with a video phone call when watching content like movies or sports; especially in those snazzy 3D glasses.

While the majority of the conferences focused on 3D technology, Sony also announced an interesting take on providing easy access to internet content; the Dash.  Sony’s Dash is a multi-purpose internet-connected screen, somewhat like a low end tablet.  If you have seen the Chumby internet device, it’s a similar concept.  The device is much slimmer though.  You have the ability to run audio and video files from the device, but likely through Sony’s Bravia family of devices. 

We will be bringing you live updates from the show floor in our Twitter feed today; pictures as well from the high-end audio booths.  Check the home page or follow us at twitter.com/avrev.

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