'World's first' glasses-free 3D TV hits stores in Japan

December 22, 2010
Japanese electronics company Toshiba unveils the world's first 3D television that does not require viewers to wear special glasses, called the "Regza GL1 Series", at an electronics trade show in Chiba.

Toshiba on Wednesday launched in Japan what it calls the world's first television that allows viewers to see 3D images without having to wear special glasses, amid intensifying competition in the market.

But while curious shoppers stopped to test out the screen at an electronics store in central Tokyo as the 12-inch model of the Regza GL1 Series went on sale, there were doubts as to whether the technology will catch.

The new model with a liquid crystal display carries a price tag of 119,800 yen (1,400 dollars), which may put off consumers accustomed to falling prices. A 20-inch model will be released on Saturday.

While other 3D-capable TVs require glasses that act as filters to separate images to each eye, creating the illusion of depth Toshiba's new screens use processing technology to create depth-filled images.

The Regza GL1 Series also allows users to switch between 2D and 3D on normal TV programmes.

Kazuhito Gunji, a public relations official at electronics retailer Bic Camera, said the company had received several inquiries from customers on when they can get their hands on the product.

Electronics stores are hoping that the release of the latest technology will help offset declining sales as government incentives for purchasing environment-friendly home appliances were reduced this month.

The hugely competitive TV sector is a challenge for many electronics makers given that customers are increasingly accustomed to declining prices, making it difficult for the industry to generate profits.

Sony on Monday said it may fall short of its sales goal of 25 million liquid crystal display TV sets this fiscal year as it struggles to be profitable in the sector, and has also embraced technology in a bid to diversify.

Many in the industry say 3D television demand is being held back by a consumer resistance to wearing glasses and most shoppers Wednesday were curious but also cautious about the new device.

"I want to watch on a big screen," said a 47-year-old man who has a 37-inch TV at home. "I'll wait for another year before buying," he said.

Another customer, 33, said: "It's great that we don't have to wear glasses, which is a nuisance."

"But I didn't feel images were flying out of the screen on some programmes," he added.

Toshiba says images on the 12-inch screen are best viewed directly from the front and some 65 centimetres (26 inches) away, making the 3D capability less effective for families that would view together from different points around a room.

"Customers currently think of 3D images as just an add-on function... but 3D is expected to become a standard eventually" with 3D films and video titles increasing, said Toshiba sales official Eiichi Matsuzawa.

Haruo Sato, analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Centre, said it was "a big advantage" that the new series does not require viewers to wear glasses.

"That feature could help the product's popularity," he said.

But Sato was cautious about whether the 3D market as a whole would see strong demand despite the fact that equipped TV sets usually attract a lot of interest at retail stores as consumers try out the devices.

"It's questionable that consumers want 3D TVs as much as manufacturers are pushing them."

"People may not be finding the extra value" that convinces them to purchase the relatively new technology, he said.

Rival Sharp earlier this year unveiled a small glasses-free LCD touchscreen that shows 3D images for use in mobile phones, digital cameras and games consoles such as Nintendo's 3DS, which is set for release in Japan in February.

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1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2010
I dont mind glasses if they are comfortable. Or to put it better, if I have to choose between full-quality 3D effect with glasses and 3D system without glasses but having all other important image parameters inferior, I choose glasses.

The best system quality-wise is still circularly polarised double projector 3D, or shutter 3D with high frequency monitor. Never seen the effect quality of this one live, but I doubt it would be better or comparable than glasses solutions offer.
5 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2010
I wish they would have explained how this works without glasses. That's one of the major obstacles to overcome before 3D gets a lot of acceptance, in my opinion. I'm sure it's very interesting technology.

On the other hand, I personally don't see any value at all in 3D TV. It doesn't add any new information, and is actually usually pretty distracting. The vast majority of the time it's only used for "wow it's coming right at me!" cheap thrills. Avatar (the example everyone uses, I know) was an exception to this and the 3D was integrated quite well, but I still didn't like that I had to watch it in 3D. Sometimes it was distracting and other times it was annoying because it forces perspective on you, so you can't look at things in the background if you wanted to. I also felt it reduced the picture quality substantially. Personally I'll be avoiding 3D TV for the time being.
not rated yet Dec 22, 2010
I think it is funny that TVs have gotten so good, that they really can't get any better. But they must get better, somehow! Lets just make them 3-D! Its just a case of advancement being expected, so it must be made better, any way we can!
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2010
oh great, so now we will get brainwashed in 3d!
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2010
I see the future of 3D more in games, sport events or movies made with 3D in mind, definately not everyday TV broadcast like serials and news.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2010
their next innovation will have a device with which big brother can pop out of the screen and smack you around a little to keep you in line. The feel and smell-o-vision.
5 / 5 (2) Dec 22, 2010
I find 3D TV interesting, but after a while annoying. The systems fall short of being true 3D, which would require holography or a physical 3D display. A very expensive way of getting a headache.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 22, 2010
Rival Sharp earlier this year unveiled a small glasses-free LCD touchscreen that shows 3D images for use in mobile phones

This seems counterproductive. How will you know where to position your finger to touch a 2D screen when it's displaying 3D content with depth? :)
not rated yet Dec 23, 2010
Me thinks, the 3D haters haven't played games in 3D yet. Most new PS3 games are 3D enabled I see.
not rated yet Dec 23, 2010
Too bad they didn't launch this just before everyone in America went out and purchased their new 3D LCDTV for Christmas 2010... just to find out that it's already obsolete and they will look foolish being the only ones on the block wearing goofy glasses when they watch TV.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 26, 2010
Lord - I doubt image quality of this technology would be better than shutter glasses LCD solution (certainly not now when its new and immature), so if you value image and 3D effect quality over not having to wear glasses, you did the right thing.
5 / 5 (2) Dec 26, 2010
Personally, I would rather have inexpensive (so I can afford 4-8 pairs) and somewhat fashionable (so I don't look like an idiot) LCD/OLED glasses with built-in sound and a Wi-Fi link to my media! That way, I'd get good 3D, be able to watch whatever I want, be able to watch late-night without waking my wife, be able to watch anywhere and in any position, *and* recover a lot of wall space that *should* be filled with artwork!
not rated yet Dec 27, 2010
3D w/o glasses is not new. I tried to get Honeywell Computer Systems (my old employer) to look at an early product from Dimensional Technologies http://www.dti3d.com/.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 28, 2010
The glassesless 3D tv was developed by Phillips Electronics in the Netherlands a few years back, and they even went into production for a while, but demand was low and the sets were expensive. The drawbacks of viewing angle and complex set-up procedures did not justify continuation of the product so it was abandoned.

LG probably has the best 3D tv system going, using shutterless glasses with polarized lenses. Unfortunately, they intend to sell over 6 million of these tv's to China before it even enters the Japanese market, let alone North America.

The Toshiba system is probably considered a novelty item at best even by Toshiba execs.
not rated yet Dec 30, 2010
I bet the adult industry is totally going to take full advantage of this new technology. LOL

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