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Will 3D TV ever catch on?

By Sarah Klein

As soon as your CD collection was complete, the iPod was born. You just transferred all your favorite movies to DVD, then along came Blu-ray. Seems like every new piece of technology quickly becomes an outdated piece of technology.

So when buzz started generating for 3D television, it was often met with a mixture of skepticism and indifference.

Data on the actual number of 3D TVs sold is hard to come by. Some reports suggest that consumers have spent upwards of $55 million in the three short months since Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung 3D sets became available. But at $5,000 a pop, that number is suddenly much less impressive.

There’s not even a standard type of 3D set to choose from. Essentially, the two options boil down to a cheap TV with expensive 3D glasses, or an expensive set with cheap specs, according to the New Yorker, which reports that the former seems to be the general preference.

But don’t even bother checking into a 3D TV if you don’t get your signal from DirecTV, Comcast, or AT&T’s U-verse, as those are the only current providers of 3D programming.

Even if you do happen to be a customer of one of those providers, there’s still not much you can actually watch. DirecTV offers 3D content from CBS, Fox Sports, MTV, NBC and a few others. ESPN has aired a bunch of the World Cup games in 3D and some pay-per-view channels are showing IMAX movies. Sony doesn’t plan to launch its 24/7 3D channel with Discovery and IMAX content until January 2011.

The continued concern over the health risks associated with 3D TV might also be a drag on sales. The laundry list of potential problems includes lightheadedness, dizziness, eye-twitching, confusion, nausea, convulsions, and disorientation, to name  just a few. Even manufacturers are warning viewers not to watch 3D TV if they are pregnant, elderly, or have been drinking, and that wearing 3D glasses for too long could be harmful.

Like all consumer products, 3D TV is certain to improve as time goes on, with cheaper prices and more programming choices helping to offset safety concerns, which may turn out to be exaggerated anyway. But if you ever needed an argument against being an early-adopter of new consumer technology, then 3D TV has made a heck of a case!

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