Could there be a revival of 3D TVs, or are they dead and gone?

Do you remember the wanted 3D TVs? If not, that’s okay because they didn’t stay in vogue for very long and most companies stopped making them years ago.

The death of 3D TVs was sad for those who appreciated the technology, but is it possible that 3D TVs and 3D movies will make a comeback in the future?

Let’s see what exactly a 3D TV is, what caused its demise, and whether virtual reality was the final nail in the 3D coffin.

What exactly is a 3D TV?

Watching 3D TV and movies goes back an incredibly long time. In fact, the first 3D movie presented to a cinema audience was “The Power of Love”. It happened in 1922, 100 years ago!

3D movies were nothing new, but the sudden rise of 3D TVs in the home was. For those young enough not to remember the 3D craze around 2009, here’s how a 3D TV works.

3D TVs appear the way they do thanks to stereoscopy or stereoscopic imaging, a technique that tricks our eyes into seeing an image with 3D depth. Our two eyes see two slightly different views of the world, but our brain is smart enough to put them together into a single image. This is essentially what 3D TVs do. You put on the glasses and see two different images from slightly different angles on the screen, and your brain merges them together to create a single 3D image.

Films shot in 2D and 3D turned out to be ridiculously expensive and time-consuming. This meant that many films were converted after being shot in 2D, and only a handful of scenes were actually 3D. In the end, only about half a movie or less was actually in 3D, which was usually a huge bummer.


What made 3D TVs fail?

Laughing man in movie theater eating popcorn wearing 3D glasses

Many problems doomed 3D TVs from the start. Some of the most notable were 3D glasses, additional costs, and the home viewing experience.

The glasses were weird and a lot of people thought they were boring to wear. They also came with a myriad of other compatibility issues, causing issues for those with glasses or other visual impairments.

Also, to take full advantage of your 3D TV, there were usually additional costs, such as buying a suitable Blu-ray player and a pair of 3D glasses for everyone watching.

Another issue was that the home viewing experience was underwhelming compared to watching an immersive 3D movie in the cinema. This is what probably doomed 3D TVs.

As of 2021, some 3D movies are still streaming in certain locations around the world. However, in 2021, IMAX announced that it would no longer show 3D films. The reason for dropping 3D could be the excessive cost of making the movies, or maybe a standard IMAX experience is far more worthwhile these days.

What awaits 3D TV fans?

Even though 3D failed, there are still so many people who are big fans of 3D TVs and were sad to see it disappear. So does this mean there will be a resurrection of 3D TV in the future?

Because it’s been around for so long, it could indeed make a return to theaters, but it’s hard to say whether 3D will ever be suitable for a home viewing experience. Much has been made of 3D TVs where viewers won’t have to wear unconventional 3D glasses. Glasses-free 3D TV and movies are a possibility, and there have been demonstrations of glasses-free TVs at CES (the huge consumer tech show held annually in Las Vegas), such as the Samsung 3D TV prototype 8K from 2015. However, none took due to some issues.

The main issue was that without wearing the 3D glasses, you had to sit or stand in the correct position in front of the TV without moving around. If you are not positioned in exactly the right place, the image changes and the 3D effect does not work accurately.

There are already smartphones with 3D screens and cameras. And let’s not forget the Nintendo 3DS, the classic handheld that lets you play 3D games, all without ridiculous glasses. The Nintendo 3DS was a hit, but they stopped making it because a better console came along, of course. This fact alone begs the question: do we need 3D in our lives? 3D was a fad, and the truth is that fads are short-lived.

Should we focus on the latest TV technology rather than 3D?

man and woman smiling and standing next to large 8K television
Image Credit: LG전자/Flickr

For now, some of the latest TV technologies are OLED, QLED, 4K and 8K. For the most part, people are more than happy with the latest TV technology and have no desire to own a 3D TV.

8K TVs are all the rage right now. Some say they are not necessary for an ordinary person’s living room. However, you’ll want to upgrade to an 8K TV in the future. Currently, QLED and OLED TVs are the most in demand. OLED and QLED TVs have grown in popularity and become much more affordable. They offer a range of amazing features, such as bright, vivid colors and a wide viewing angle. OLED and QLED TVs are also incredibly thin and light. Did you know that Sony and Samsung announced a new QD-OLED TV screen at CES 2022?

Meanwhile, 4K TVs have been popular for quite some time and were introduced just as 3D TVs were slowly disappearing. Have 3D TVs been forgotten because it’s so easy and convenient to watch something in 4K rather than 3D?

The thing is, sitting down and turning on the TV is so easy compared to all the extras you need for a 3D experience, including pesky glasses, extra costs, extra players, and more.

Will virtual reality take precedence over the 3D experience?

smiling woman wearing virtual reality headset

According to statistics, 57.4 million people in the United States use virtual reality. It’s a huge sign that virtual reality is becoming more mainstream every year.

So while 3D died out pretty quickly, virtual reality continues to grow and develop, proving that it’s not just a fad. VR and 3D are by no means the same thing, but VR can give us the fun and immersive experience we crave.

VR headsets range from simple cardboard cutouts to high-tech LCD screen glasses. All work the same way, using a split image or video with an individual view for each eye. VR technology allows you to fully envelop yourself in a three-dimensional virtual simulation by blocking out the outside world.

With virtual reality already introduced to so many industries, do we need 3D technology in our lives?

Are 3D TVs really dead and gone for good?

Would 3D TVs still be around today if they were introduced at a better time, with lower costs and improved technology? Honestly, it’s hard to say. There are so many different factors at play, and there wasn’t just one thing that led to the demise of 3D TV and movies.

When it comes to technology, things come and go at a rapid pace. It’s hard to predict whether 3D TVs will resurrect in the future. Ultimately, 3D TVs failed, but 3D technology comes and goes about every 10 years, so it could be back soon.

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