[Tech] 3D: It’s Here To Stay

Bloggie 3D

Sony's MHS-FS3 1080P 3D Bloggie

I’ve got to admit I’m a tad undecided on the whole issue of 3D. Yes, the vast majority of 3D cinema releases either don’t need the added dimension (Toy Story 3), or depend too much on it (Avatar) and yes, I was glad that Inception and Harry Potter 7a were Imax 2D releases only. But that doesn’t mean the technology is totally dead. In fact, the little I’ve seen of Sky Sports 3D (brief demos on high end hardware in shops and at trade events) is pretty amazing. Oddly it was watching footage of the Ryder Cup in 3D (golf surely not being the most exciting demo, surely), that gave me the biggest thrill.

It is, though, still a decidedly high-end affair. Most of us have recently upgraded to HD TVs, so it will doubtless be a few years yet before the public rush out and buy 3D sets en masse. But lately, a couple of developments have convinced me that 3D will be sticking around. Firstly, Nintendo’s 3DS. Lately the Big N has been on a roll with hardware releases. The last time it hit a bum note was with the Gameboy Micro – a device that didn’t meet sales expectations despite being fundamentally fine (I own a pink one). The 3DS though is the perfect evolution of the successful DS brand. What’s more, by all accounts it works brilliantly without the need for expensive, annoying glasses. The barriers to entry into the world of 3D are much lower with a 3DS. It’ll be relatively cheap, has the weight of a much-loved brand behind it, and will doubtless work flawlessly, putting 3D gaming in the hands of millions of ordinary consumers.

All well and good, but it could be a specialist fad if limited to one quirky device. No, the thing that’s really turned my head was revealed this week at CES over in Las Vegas. Sony is launching a fully 3D, 1080P micro camcorder, that’s expected to sell for less than $200. It’s the next version of their Bloggie, and is set to hit shops in April. Hoenstly I’m not sure who buys these things – for one very simple reason; anything the micro camcorder market does, the mobile phone market follows within months. So what does a sub $200 1080P 3D micro camcorder mean for the mass market? It means we’ll see phones with built in 3D video recording this year.

The moment I realised HD had truly hit the mass markets was when I first recorded video with my iPhone 4. Instant, crisp 720P movies from a phone. Not even a dedicated device, let alone a high end one. Then I realised just how many HD capable devices I actually owned, from consoles to laptops to phones, all of them bought for reasons other than their maximum resolutions, but all HD capable.

The future for 3DTV may still be some way off, and cinema-goers may be biting back against the third dimension in theatrical releases, but that’s not how 3D will win. It’s the (literally) little things that will get us in the end. When we all own 3D games consoles and can shoot 3D footage on our phones, we’re gonna need that new 3DTV. That’s what will drive the next wave of TV purchases – far more than the prospect of watching Tiger Woods aim his balls into out living room.

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