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CES 2011 – TV Review – HD, LED/LCD, Plasma and 3D

CES 2011 – TV Review – HD, LED/LCD, Plasma and 3D

HD, LED/LCD, Plasma and 3D TV’s displays at CES 2011 were ‘ful’ – that is plentifuland beautiful!
Some manufacturers chose to shield TV’s from large angle views and ambient light, so you could only see the ‘best case scenario’, and some others tried to show how their TV’s had ‘less flaws’ than others, others left their TV’s wide open in the bright lights.  In this review, we touch on the best, in real life usage not just the ‘show only’ view of their merits. We’ll also highlight the honorable mentions and innovators to keep in your cross-hairs.

A little about the 3D home experience
First – DON’T expect to get the effects and experience you’ve had in theaters.  Simply, the screen is just not large enough to get anywhere near the same, or even similar, experience.  Once your eyes reach the edge of the display most all of the effect is lost.  The further away you get from TV the less 3D you get.  So, what is too far away?  For a 60″ set, once you hit 10-12 feet away, almost 80% of the 3D effect is gone – from personal hands on experiences.  What you do notice when you are far away is the extreme level of detail, not really that you are viewing 3D.  On that note, the 2D experience is phenomenal on most all of the 3D sets reviewed.  Definitely, the 2D is better on a 3D set than a dedicated 2D set.

The real 3D experience is depth, not ‘flying at you’ effects.  The best TV’s have deep, into the wall 3D effects.  The very bottom of the display is where you can notice how good the 3D is.  Does the ground people are walking on seem to extend toward you, and the depth just seem like the wall is 200ft deep?  The larger the display, or closer you are to the screen, the better your experience will be. 

The glasses –  the glasses you choose, whether made by your screen manufacturer or another company, like Oakley and others, will make all the difference.  The real difference between the high end units are comfort, durability and very small details.  In 3D, the small details are what makes the difference, so spend the money on good specs.  On another note – why get specs at all?  Knowing what you now know from the above comments, why not wait for Toshiba or Sony to finish their ‘glasses free’ units.  If the 3D effect is dead at the edge of the TV, why worry about wearing glasses that ‘should’ give you fly at me experiences, but don’t?

3D Projectors offer another tantalizing opportunity.  The performance is a bit lacking now, but getting there.  At least you can give yourself a nice large 12-16 foot screen, given you have a wall large enough, that is!  Enough said…here we go!

In the end – Plasma beat all the LED and LCD’swe saw.  Plasma is just in many ways a better platform for 3D TV programming due to its 600Hz sub field drive, resulting in faster processing through phosphor based pixel cells, and a more natural processing between the requirements of 3D and individual pixel cells, each containing its own light in plasma technology.  With LED backlit LCD TVs the twisting crystals, that enable the light and color flow, seems to cause the judder and side effects with 3D and advanced gaming.


Though Toshiba was not showing any of its current active or passive 3D TVs, or their upcoming 2011 units, it did show its Glasses Free 3D TVs in sizes of 24″, 32″, 55″, 65″.  The display was spotty, and performance a bit irregular and lots of noise overall.  The Glasses free technologies obvious benefit is that you don’t need to buy $250 and up specialized glasses to view 3D in the privacy of your home.  This was clearly the tech people want and have been wishing for.  For a family of four, you’d spend close to $1000 just so everyone could enjoy the movie!

Toshiba was the first to admit at the show that they literally built the TV’s themselves by hand in the days before the show – these are not true production units, but we were told they were 80% of what will be in overall design.  They had a lot of tweaking and processor/software work to do still, and these demo units were nowhere near production ready – consider them the Alpha of the Beta series.

We can’t wait until later this year, when Toshiba said they would be launching, to see and test the final product!

An honorable mention goes out to Sony for their 24” Glasses Free showcase, that they said would never make it to production…at least they’ve given it a nod.  I don’t expect for a minute though, that Sony won’t be offering a product line in this segment in the future though.

OUR Choice Award for Best 3D Display at CES 2011
Samsung 3D Plasma – 8000 Series – 9000 Series LED
Samsung kind of let us down this year as they did not have much in terms of 3D TV’sdisplayed, in comparison to Panasonic – the show floor display king of CES!  They did a nice job of highlighting the new active shutter glasses they are now producing – they were very comfortable!   The glasses come in different colors with a very thin arms as opposed to the thicker heavier glasses we’ve been used to.  If you have bad eyesight, and HATE to wear bulky 3D lenses over your glasses – well, Samsung also offers prescription 3D glasses – Samsung rocks!

Samsung’s 3D demos were set up in one area, and they only highlighted the 9000, D8000 and 75D9500 series LED TVs.  They did not have their 3D test glasses on short leashes, so you could move around a bit and get angle views.  Youactually got to know exactly what the TV will look like in 3D programming.  We saved Samsung for last, and after viewing the others mentioned below, we felt it was a night and day difference for Samsung, not only in 3D viewing, but 2D as well.  They did have a 63″ Plasma showing – and it only proved to be the best of the best that Samsung offers.  The colors were more realistic, softer and more detailed.  Noise levels didn’t seem to exist.  Samsungshowed the least amount of distortion for high speed, activeviewing; like sports and gaming.  Whether you were 5 feet away or 20, the picture was just fantastic.  The gaming demo was just as impressive.  Our eyes actually felt less stressed and more comfortable watching Samsung TV’s than any other.

Whether our overall decision is based on how they presented their TV’s versus others, some would think that maybe they did a better job on their floor show?  We don’t think so.  Their TV”s were not hidden in shadow free environments or mini kiosks.  They were out in the open, bright and very white lights of the show.  If anything, this shows even more that Samsung gets the job done better than right…they do it best!


Panasonic 3D
Panasonic had an impressive selection of 3D content displayed on the screens, and generally, it looked much better than most of the competition.  Panasonic setup multiple display sections based on categories of usage;  stationary active shutter glasses for sports, gaming, and entertainment and we looked at them all.

The biggest issue was very that fast moving images in the foreground distort the picture, a problem we have seen on most all 3D TVs at some level.  In gaming, the plasma outshines the LED and LCD units showed with less flickering, distortion, virtually no juddering and jerky movements.  Which is typical in the comparison.  Colors were very good and still images looked great.  The Panasonic display had stationary glasses for viewing, so we really cannot tell you how the glasses themselves will perform when actually wearing them.

LG had many 3D TV ready models on display.  Their top of the line glasses use nano technology to accomplish great performance as well as showing full 1080p HD 3D to each eye.  It has a stunning picture and aesthetic design.  There was blurring bottom right and left edges and flicker from bright lights appearing on a dark background with the 3D viewing.  All of LG’s 3D plasma offerings have active shutter glasses 3D viewing.

LG also showed the largest LED 3D TV at the show with an 84″ display model.  The TV is a prototype and is not scheduled to ship this year.  The 3D effects on this TV were mid-level at best, and included every characteristic flaw of LED 3D TVs.  Additionally, the colors or clarity were not anywhere near the mid-level of Panasonic or Samsung, so very disappointing.

LG did show a 31″ OLED TV that had a very high level sharp picture with naturalscenery and images.  The OLED TVs are very thin, measuring only 2.9mm in depth.  The fact that the tuners and video boards are located in the stand and the OLED TV panel cannot be removed from it, makes any custom installations virtually impossible.  Then again, who wants a 31″ 3D TV?  Great viewing and effects if your 2-5 feet away….not very practical.

Sharp 3D
Sharp typically introduces about the same number of  TV’s the fall as they do at CES.  They showed 2 newlevels of 3D TVs.  The first and top end LE935 series with full array, full true backlit localdimming, and the second, the 70″ only full array local dimming 70LE735 series.  Despicable Me in animated BluRay 3D was playing as the ‘show off’ content and we were very impressed with the picture.  There was hardly any flicker.  This was one of the best 3D TV images we saw on the non-Plasma 3D TV platform.  Colors were bright and clear and we didn’t notice any blur in the bottom right or left edges of the picture.  This test was a true one with active shutter glasses on our faces, not the stationary stand seen most everywhere else.  The biggest problem for Sharp was the overwhelming distraction when a bright light flashes across a dark background.

Vizio 3D
The Vizio3D TV display focused on the one 3D TV currently offered, the XVT3D650SV.  The display further focused on passivevs. active3D glasses.  Vizio glasses to giveyou 540 lines of resolution per eye for 3D viewing, which favors the cheaper passive polarized 3D glasses.  The picture was pretty good, considering the glasses.  The price of $7 each is nice when you have5 people watching a 3D movie.  The passive3D TVs is the company’s focus going forward.  The XVT3D650SV comes with 4 pairs of passive 3D glasses included in the box.  As always, Vizio doesn’t offer the best, but good enough for those who can’t spend big dollars, or perhaps, don’t really care or can’t tell the difference.

Coming up later this year, we’ll follow Toshiba and others that may follow the glasses-free revolution.  Also, as new units come to market, we’ll update this post so you have the latest information.

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