My 3D Experience

The first (and so far only) movie that I’ve seen in 3D is Avatar. Watching it, I fell in love with 3D. I found it incredibly immersive. I didn’t suffer from any kind of dizziness, headache, etc. that some people report. All in all, I would have to say that I was an instant convert. I knew I wanted to watch a lot more movies in 3D, and I knew I wanted 3D at home. I’m not interested in 3D being the focus of the movie, but 3D really changed how I saw the movie. Instead of watching from outside, I was actually stainding in the movie.

Now, I haven’t been rushing to see any other 3D movies… I go see very few movies in the theater, and the quality of 3D has been poor in most movies according to the reviews, so I’m still waiting to see 3D really take off… but I’m still a huge fan of it.

On a separate note, in the past few months, I’ve finally made the decision that I’d like to get off cable TV, and one route to that is the new internet-ready TVs. Though not the only option, that’s the route I’m interested in going, so I’ve been doing a lot of pre-purchase research to figure out what I’m looking for. Although there’s not a lot of 3D content out there that I’m interested in at this point, there are starting to be a small handful of movies (primarily animate) that I have seen and enjoyed in 3D, and which have gotten good reviews for their 3D. Also, I can’t see buying a non-3D HDTV now and then replacing it in only a couple of years. So I decided to purchase a 3D TV in the expectation of starting a slow transition to 3D.

So, about 2 months ago, I started doing serious research into the TV options. My first stop was Consumer Reports. Based on them, it seemed to me that there were really four main names in 3D: Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and LG.

I never considered Panasonic (for reasons I’ll discuss below), and initially I was ignoring LG (primarily due to a lack of familiarity with the brand). Between Samsung and Sony, I was initially leaning towards Samsung, though over time that leaning switched to Sony.

At some point in the process, I saw an advertisement for LG talking about it’s passive display. I’m not going to go into a discussion of the difference between the two (check out any tutorial about 3D for a description). I’d read about active vs. passive early on in my research, but I must have been reading an older description, because it said that there was no passive display available at a reasonable price point. So when I found out that LG had a passive display, it immediately joined the list of brands to consider, and after a bit of research, I’d pretty much decided that it was between Sony and LG.

A trip to Best Buy (who carried both) helped to solidify things. It’s true that the active display may have been a bit sharper, but the LG was certainly ‘good enough’, so I was pretty much sold on the LG.

At that point, based only on technical issues, I’d pretty much decided on an LG, but it wasn’t a decision that I was emotionally vested in. Other techical issues might have come along to shift that another direction, and I certainly didn’t have any major complaints about Samsung or Sony… I just felt that LG was a little better fit for me. It was simply the one that had the most X’s in the plus column and the fewest in the minus column.

All that changed a few days ago. The choice to buy an LG is no longer simply a logic-based decision subject to change if other technical issues arrive. It is now set in stone, and Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony are no longer options for me, not just in the 3D TV market, but in ANY consumer electronics purchase for the forseeable future.

The change occurred when I decided to pick a movie to buy along with the TV. I mean… I can’t buy a 3D TV and have NOTHING 3D to play on it. It didn’t have to be my favorite movie of all time, but I did want to buy at least one movie that I’d seen and enjoyed in 2D. So, I went to Amazon to see what was available, and that’s when I learned that a practice that I had only peripherally been aware of was extremely pervasive. It has to do with the reason I initially excluded Panasonic.

When I started shopping, the ONE movie that I knew I absolutely wanted was Avatar. I also knew that Panasonic had an exclusive lock on that movie until 2012. If you didn’t buy a Panasonic, you couldn’t buy Avatar. That type of business decision may not be illegal… but it is absolutely unacceptable. I refuse to support that behavior. As a result, from the very start, I eliminated Panasonic as a possible brand to purchase.

When I went to Amazon to see what movies were available, the selection was very limited… basically, all of my top choices were absent, so I started doing some research. The following link showed me exactly what was going on: List of Blue Ray 3D releases. The movies I would potentially enjoy on 3D include the following:

exclusive to Panasonic until 2012
How to Train Your Dragon
exclusive to Samsung, no general release date set
Monsters vs. Aliens
exclusive to Samsung, no general release date set
Shrek series
exclusive to Samsung, no general release date set
exclusive to Samsung, no general release date set
generally available

Although I’m not interested in the movies, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony all have exclusive access to some of the movies.

The very companies that should be pushing the 3D industry have made it absolutely impossible to purchase all of the movies that I want.

I’ve already written to Panasonic and Samsung (still trying to figure out the best way to contact Sony) to let them know that I will NOT be purchasing one of their TVs… but after additional thought it comes to this:

I will not purchase a single item from Panasonic, Samsung, or Sony for the forseeable future. I will only change that attitude after they stop this practice (and probably not for a year or two after that).

I will encourage anyone who asks my advice to not purchase from those three brands.

In the interest of fairness, LG does have ONE exclusive deal… on a documentary named ‘Under the Sea’. I’m a bit baffled by that. A documentary is not going to be a sales-driving title. If that were the goal, LG would have formed an exclusive deal with some other film, so I’m not sure of the purpose of this deal. However, since this deal will have no impact on the 3D industry, I’m willing to overlook it.

As another sidenote, Disney (a company that I normally dislike very much because of their use of the ‘Vault’ as a tactic to force people to buy their movies, and the role they’ve played in constantly extending the duration of copyrights long beyond when they should be) is one of the ‘good guys’ in this battle. All of their 3D movies are generally available.