3D TV Is Not Happening, Folks

When 3D TVs were introduced, television manufacturers were expecting them to change how we watch TV forever. The idea of 3D promises an immersive television experience like no other, giving extra depth to an image and blurring the lines of reality in our world and the TV world, by providing the perception of a three-dimensional image on-screen, closer to how we see with our own eyes rather than through the eye of a camera lens. But much to the disappointment of television manufacturers, they haven't been selling many 3D TVs. Something about 3D television is just not clicking with consumers. But what is it? Why isn't 3D catching on?

Perhaps the first reason consumers aren't jumping on board with 3D is the fact that it's a lie. 3D can only mimic reality. When we put on 3D glasses, the actors in a movie are not actually popping out of the screen, and we know this because if we try to touch them, our hand just goes through the air or touches the screen. The actors are still in 2D, but they only look like they are in the room with you. Even then, 3D is not exactly how we see in reality, since in real life we focus on particular objects and the rest becomes blurred out of focus. In 3D movies, everything is in focus which can be ultimately confusing for our brains. And the truth is that we don't need 3D to become more immersed in a movie. As long as the movie is engaging enough, we aren't noticing that the image is flat. We can watch a movie and perceive that the actors and objects on screen are interacting in a three-dimensional world. 3D can't tell us something our mind already knows. 3D is a gimmick and doesn't improve the experience of watching television.

Probably one of the major reasons 3D isn't catching on, is that it's just plain uncomfortable for most people. Nobody wants to sit down on their couch and have to put on a ridiculous pair of big plastic glasses to watch a movie, and if you already wear corrective lenses, you don't want to have to put on two pairs of glasses. Some 3D glasses, particularly passive 3D glasses, dim the screen making it harder to see. More often than not viewers will also complain of physical pain from viewing television in 3D. Many people avoid 3D for the fact that it can cause eye-strain, headaches and even migraines, especially after a prolonged period of time. This can particularly be a problem for individuals with astigmatisms. For these viewers watching 3D movies or shows is more unpleasant than enjoyable, and is counterproductive when it comes to immersion.

Of course the last reason, and perhaps the most obvious, is that consumers just don't think 3D is worth it. 3D televisions often have a higher price tag than 2D HDTVs, and if viewers can't get enough enjoyment out of 3D, there really isn't a need to pay more. The most effective 3D uses active 3D glasses that employ a shutter effect which rapidly turns each lens on and off, but these glasses are expensive and can only be used with your television. So if you ever need to buy a new brand of television you must replace the glasses too. Further, there really isn't enough content in 3D in regard to movies and television. Not everyone wants to watch Transformers and Thor all the time, and few certainly want to put down hundreds of dollars just to be able to every now and then.

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