Last week I found myself walking through the aisles of Best Buy and noticed some pretty interesting things. First, my $250 phone (which was new 7 months ago) now costs only $59.99. Moral? With technology, you can buy something brand new in the store and it will be outdated by the time you get home. Anyways, I soon found myself in the TV section where I was blown away by the sharp, crisp display of plasma televisions big and small. Then I came to the 3DTV display, complete with 3D glasses and a cozy seat to rest my weary legs. Having never seen anything in 3D before I was excited to experience the phenomenon for free. The result? It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen: images do jump out at you, but they are blurry and, frankly, a little cartoony. So here’s the question of the day: is 3D a gimmick, or is it here to stay? Answer: 3D is a gimmick that is here to stay.
Part of the problem with 3D movies is that the technology is nothing new to consumers. 3D movies have been around since 1922 and have never really achieved great success, despite concerted efforts from developers. But, with the way that home technology is spreading (in terms of cost and availability) one would be foolish to state that 3D will simply fail this time around (like HD DVD). Instead, it will remain a viable entertainment option for those affluent enough to afford or those curious enough to invest in it—but 3D is not ready to take over home entertainment the same way Blu-Rays have, or DVDs before them. Here’s why.
Those Damn Glasses
Imagine yourself enjoying a 3D movie night with your significant other. Everything is perfect—you just got your brand new 3DTV installed, you’re sipping a very fine wine, and watching a deeply immersing movie. Then, only for a second, you snap away from it all and look at your significant other. What once was an attractive human being has been transformed into a more frightening version of LeVar Burton circa Star Trek. Oh the humanity…Obviously I exaggerate, but the principle of the matter remains true: if Barack Obama can’t pull it off, neither can you.
Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
The next major reason that 3D is not ready for mass consumption is because the software costs too much and is emerging too hot on the heels of Blu-Ray. Remember way back in 1997 when DVDs emerged? Back then VHS still ruled the roost. 15 years later both VHS and DVD have been replaced. Do you think people are ready to give up Blu-Ray and replace their movie collections for a third time? Look, I know that the Lion King (for example) is a great movie—but is it really worth paying $50 for…again? Thought so.
The final major reason 3D still isn’t ready to become the new standard for home entertainment is because of the stress that it puts on the viewers’ eyes. Take the Nintendo 3DS for example—a portable gaming system requires no glasses to see 3D picture. This is a feat in and of itself. The problem is that consumers report slight pain in their eyes after playing for extended periods of time. This failure extends to the big screen as well, where 3D is supposedly at its best. After viewing a 3D movie, especially a long one, viewers often complain about developing headaches and sore eyes due to the stress that 3D put on their vision. This does not bode well for the medium.
Because of these 3 primary failures, 3D will remain gimmicky until technology develops to the point where: you won’t have to look like a freak to watch 3D, you won’t destroy your budget, and you don’t have to melt your eyes to experience it. Until then, count me out.