Only a few months ago, I wrote an article about my take on 3D TV and surprised myself about how negative it came out. Usually, I get excited about any new technology, but there just seemed to be too many reasons not to buy into this one. A few months in technology terms is a very long time though and there are now a few reasons to give 3D another quick look. Certainly I'm still not advocating dumping your 37"+ HD screen for 3D, but if you're in the market for a TV anyway, here are some positive reasons to buy, which may balance out my last article and possibly swing your decision.
Although most of us won't be thinking about it yet, Christmas is very much on the minds of the retailers and right now behind closed doors they will be working out which products to push as their Christmas big sellers and how much discount they can get away with to draw in the customers whilst still making a profit.
First above the parapet is Currys with what looks to be an incredible offer. £1000 buys you a 50" Samsung plasma 3D television with 3 pairs of glasses (Active Shutter type) and a Samsung 3D compatible blu-ray player. Not only that, they've thrown in a 3D bluray for you to watch on it in the form of 'Monsters Vs Aliens', which is quite good fun.
The Samsung TV is a PS50C680 and a quick 'Google Product' search suggests most of the high street retailers want around £1300 for it (although as we get closer to Christmas, expect discounts to start appearing across the board). So already, the price seems to make sense.
Given the budget price (even £1300 is currently good value for a 3D capable television) - it's nice to note that it's not short on the features one expects and there are one or two nice surprises. There are four HDMI sockets around the back, DLNA suppp0rt, which allows you to play back music, video and pictures from your computer over your home network and a Freeview HD tuner. The last one is very nice, as a big 50" screen really shows up the flaws in the standard freeview picture - although check your coverage for Freeview HD, as it's relatively limited right now.
I've not been able to find any expert reviews of this television (although I'll update later if and when one appears), but the people who have bitten already and are discussing it on AVForums seem very happy with it.
The Samsung Blu-Ray player also strikes me as a good machine at a good price in its own right. The BD C5900 normally retails at £179, which compares well with other retailers (Amazon are cheaper online at £149). Standard blu-ray players can be had for around the £100 mark for a last generation bog standard player. A comparible 2D blu-ray player at this price would normally also have access to the internet for connecting to services like the BBC iPlayer, which is very handy for catching up on shows from the last week that you missed.
Like the TV, this player is a budget model from the Samsung range, but that hasn't come at the expense of some nice bonus features that might have only been found in the high end models only 6 months back. Again, DLNA is supported for playing back media from your computer over the home network and there is also INTERNET@TV, which is Samsungs 'widget' internet connectivity, which is basically Samsung's method of packaging up websites like Facebook and Flickr for viewing on your TV. If Samsung come up with a widget for the iPlayer or one of the other catch up services like 4OD or DemandFive, this would be great!
As part of this bundle price, it's clearly excellent value and you're not paying a particular premium here for the 3D capability.
The final part of the bundle price is the extra two pairs of 3D glasses (there is a pair already in the box), which are Samsung SSG-2100AR, normally retailing at £80 per pair. These are 'Active Shutter' glasses, so bear in mind that if you want everyone in the family to be able to sit and enjoy at the same time, you might need to budget for more. You also need to be pretty good at remembering to have all of them fully charged before inviting your friends over for movie night!
Don't forget also that you'll need the new HDMI v1.4 cables for full 3D support. I'd be amazed if these were included and even more amazed if Currys didn't want a fortune for them. Search online before and order before you hit the shops to avoid being tempted by the frankly silly prices high street retailers want for cables.
There's no doubt in my mind that this is a pretty fantastic deal and may do a lot to push 3D tech into many living rooms this Christmas. Those of us who are on the fence about the technology, or have HDTV investments not yet ready for the scrap heap, would do well to wait - as this echos how quickly HDTV technology fell in price and the only way is down!
Last thing to mention is how content availability is coming along. You could argue (and I'm not sure I could argue back) that at this price, even if you don't use the 3D functionality at all for a while, it's a good deal and future-proofs your purchase. However, if you're buying a 3D TV, it's likely that you'll want to have something to play on it!
On the blu-ray front, I believe there are only 3 discs on the market and two of those can only be obtained with a player - so I hope you don't mind your Christmas movie being 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' - otherwise you're out of luck. This will likely change next year, but clearly publishers are waiting to see if people will buy the TVs (hmm, Chicken and Egg).
If you're a Sky subscriber in the UK and willing to pay for their top tier packages, then things are looking up. Sky have become the first in Europe to launch a dedicated 3D channel. They started with the Ryder Cup and you can expect to see other major live sports in 3D as well as movies as they become available.
Next year should see great developments for those who like computer games. An update for the Playstation 3 out this month not only makes the bluray player 3D capable (although it can't handle HD surround sound at the same time, so that Samsung player in the bundle still has its uses) and games will come along supporting 3D too! This has the potential to be amazing and may make those who took the 3D plunge feel very smug indeed!
If the content comes next year, it's just possible that this technology is here to stay, but personally I think if you're very taken with the idea, even if it doesn't pan out, you're not going to lose out by taking the plunge on this deal.
Featured image used under 'Creative Commons' license. Thanks to lovebuzz