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Read in-depth articles covering every aspect of 3D TV technology. Comprehensive articles covering debates such as LCD vs Plasma 3D TVs, Active and Passive 3D glasses, Optimal screen sizes, etc.

Panasonic-TC-PVT25 3D TV

Panasonic VT25 vs GT25 Differences Explained

Panasonic released their mid-range GT25 line of 3D TVs shortly after the introduction of their flagship VT25 line. Looking at the specifications of both lines of Plasma TVs, it is a bit difficult to understand what the actual difference between the VT25 and GT25 TVs are. Obviously there has to be some difference to justify a $500-$700 price difference between the two. This article will compare the VT25 vs GT25 to point out any differences and similarities between these two excellent Plasma 3D TV offerings from Panasonic.

Size of VT25 and GT25 series

Firstly, the VT25 series is available in the following sizes: 50 inch, 54 inch, 58 inch and 65 inch.

These are the largest 3D TVs offered by Panasonic at the moment and it makes sense that their premium line of Plasma 3D TVs are also their largest.

The GT25 series is only available at 42 inch and 50 inch screen sizes. Being the mid-range 3D TV offering, this also makes perfect sense.

Black Levels of VT25 vs GT25

This is one area where there is definitely a difference between the VT25 and GT25 3D TVs. The VT25 series features Panasonic’s premium Infinite Black Panel Pro panel technology. Infinite Black Panel Pro is an improvement in the front panel technology that reduces electrical pre-discharge allowing for extremely deep blacks and great contrast ratios. The VT25 series of 3D TVs have been universally praised for their Kuro like black levels and superior 2D and 3D image quality.

The Panasonic GT25 features the Infinite Black Panel feature which is meant to do exactly the same as Infinite Black Panel Pro technology, but is a less complex implementation of the technology. While it certainly improves black levels and image quality by a lot, it certainly can’t match the black levels of the VT25 series. However, it should be noted that the GT25 still has great picture quality, and for the price, it is a fantastic 3D TV. This is why the GT25 made it to our list of Top 5 3D TVs.

2D to 3D Content Conversion

Surprisingly, this feature is only available in the GT25 series and not the VT25 series. It is a pretty fun feature and when it works, it can be reasonably good at converting 2D content into 3D. However, this doesn’t always work (same goes for all manufacturer’s implementation of 2D->3D conversion) and will be less and less important as more and more 3D content is made available to the consumer.

Judder Free display of BluRay/DVDs at 24fps

This is one area where the Panasonic VT25 is much better than the GT25. This is primarily due to the 96Hz ability of the VT25 (not to be confused with 600Hz Sub-field motion, which both have) which allows the VT25 to display 24fps content very smoothly via 4:4 pulldown techniques (24*4=96Hz) giving very accurate motion display. On the other hand, the GT25 does not have this feature and has to use 3:2 pulldown techniques resulting in judder in smooth panning scenes or when text is scrolling across your screen.

However, don’t be alarmed by this. It isn’t a huge issue as judder due to 3:2 pulldown is something every TV has had till last year and even now, a lot of the current 3D TVs cannot manage judder free viewing of 24fps content. Also, keep in mind that content from your HD cable provider is provided at 60Hz, so judder is not an issue in the case of cable content.

Summary of Panasonic VT25 and GT25 differences

These are the primary differences between the VT25 and GT25. The VT25 is definitely one of the best 3D TVs currently available on the market. However, it is also quite a bit more expensive than the GT25. While the GT25 doesn’t have the same black levels as the VT25, it still produces a very impressive picture with excellent color accuracy, is THX certified and also has the added bonus of being able to convert 2D content to 3D. Additionally, the GT25 series features the same revolutionary RGB phosphors pioneered by Panasonic that help eliminate cross-talk when viewing 3D content. Depending on your budget, you can’t really go wrong with either one of these fine Plasma 3D TVs. Be sure to check our Panasonic 3D TV reviews to read unbiased reviews of all the Panasonic 3D TVs currently available in the market.

What is Over-Under 3D (or Top and Bottom 3D)?

With 3D TVs and 3D content catching on in a big way in 2010 and leading into 2011, consumers have had to familiarize themselves with a lot of new terminology and jargon specific to 3D display technology and 3D content delivery. One area that is extremely confusing for consumers is that of 3D content formats and how different 3D formats are made compatible with your 3D TV. The 3D content format guide on this site was written to very specifically address this issue and help clarify things for the consumers with a series of clear and concise articles related to this subject. One of the terms that you have probably come across is the Over-Under or Top and Bottom 3D format. So if you are wondering just what is Over-Under or Top and Bottom 3D, then this article is right up your alley and will do a great job at explaining this concept in simple terms.

The HDMI 1.4 3D format specification allows for a number of different formats for 3D video content. One of the mandatory 3D formats (i.e., the format has to be supported by a 3D TV for it to be HDMI 1.4 compliant) is Top and Bottom or Over-Under 3D. On the other hand, as you may well be aware, almost all 3D TVs currently display 3D content on the screen via Frame Sequential 3D techniques. However, this doesn’t mean that the input 3D signal to the TV has to be in a frame-sequential format. In fact, pretty much all 3D HDTVs can process 3D signals in a variety of different formats and perform on-the-fly conversion of the incoming 3D video signal into a frame sequential format. While frame-sequential 3D is part of the blu-ray 3D spec, when it comes to airing 3D content over cable/air, Side by Side 3D and Top and Bottom 3D are proving to be a popular choice as they are backwards compatible with HDMI 1.3 systems (if they are Frame Compatible versions of these formats) and do not require extra bandwidth for delivery of the 3D video (thus helping with backward compatibility).

How Over-Under 3D a.k.a Top and Bottom 3D Works

Over-Under or Top and Bottom 3D Format

The Top and Bottom or Over-Under 3D format consists of a single 1080p (or 720p) frame consisting of vertically stacked sub-frames for the left and right eye, each possessing half the full HD resolution along the vertical axis

In the Over-Under or Top and Bottom 3D format, the video content is encoded in a manner as shown in the adjacent figure. A single frame has a resolution of 1920×1080 (1080p) or 1280×720 (720p) but is divided into two sub-frames, the upper one consisting of the sub-frame meant for the left eye (Labeled L) and the lower sub-frame meant for the right eye (labeled R). As you can tell, the vertical resolution of each sub-frame is halved as a result of the over-under 3D format. In the case of 1080p content, the resolution of each sub-frame is 1920×540 pixels whereas that of 720p content is 1280×360 pixels.

Thus, the downside of this technique is that you lose half the vertical resolution of the image that is seen by each eye and so you are no longer seeing “true HD 3D”. However, the upscaling algorithms in most 3D TVs compensate for this loss in vertical resolution quite well and you can still enjoy good quality 3D content that is transmitted in the top-bottom or Over-Under 3D format.

This version of the Over-Under configuration is commonly referred to as simply by “Top-and-Bottom 3D” or “Over-Under 3D”. However, it should be noted that you can also have an Over-Under configuration where each sub-frame maintains full 1080p or 720p resolution. The Mandatory Full HD 3D (FHD3D) 3D video format that is specified under HDMI 1.4 is such an Over/Under (top/bottom) 3D format where each sub-frame maintains the full 720p or 1080p resolution. Thus FHD3D is the only 3D format that provides true 3D HD video at 24fps. Read our article on the FHD3D format to learn more about it.

The advantage of the Top-Bottom or Over-Under 3D format (with half vertical resolutions) is that each frame still has a total resolution of 1080p or 720p, the same as regular 2D HD content. As a result, the required bandwidth for transmitting the 3D signal, as well as for processing it, remains the same, thus making it much easier to support in current HDMI 1.3 devices. This is why current HD set top boxes can be provided a firmware upgrade by Cable providers so as to enable 3D content without requiring a total upgrade of the box.

How will my 3D TV decode and display Over-Under 3D?

When your 3D ready TV receives this top-bottom or over-under 3D signal, it splits each frame to extract the sub-frame for each eye, and then rescales these individual frames to a full HD resolution using upscaling algorithms. It then displays these upscaled individual frames alternately in a frame-sequential manner (see the second image below) that is in sync with your active shutter 3D glasses.

While Over-Under 3D or Top and Bottom 3D does halve the vertical resolution of the 3D video content, it has the advantage of not requiring extra bandwidth and is helping make 3D content more readily available as cable companies can enable 3D channels without having to spend billions of dollars on expensive set-top box and infrastructure upgrades. This format is primarily of use for providing 3D content over cable/satellite and is also used by some older 3D Ready TVs (before the establishment of the HDMI 1.4 specification). All the new 3D BluRays provide 3D content in the FHD3D format.

Hopefully, you now understand what over-under or top and bottom 3D is. It is just another method to deliver 3D content to your 3D capable flatscreen TV and although it does lead to the halving of the frame resolution along the vertical axis, it still provides an excellent 3D viewing experience. Additionally, it has the advantage of allowing for backwards compatibility with current HD set top boxes.

This article is part of our 3D Format guide. Be sure to read it for more informative articles regarding the various types of 3D formats that 3D content providers are currently using. You might also want to check our exhaustive collection of 3D TV Guides and our 3D Compatibility guide that helps you ensure compatibility between various components of your 3D Home Theater system.
Full HD 3D Frame Packing

What is Full HD 3D (FHD3D)?

With the introduction of 3D TVs, the consumer electronics industry in collaboration with the BluRay Disc Association (BDA) and the HDMI consortium have had to settle on a suitable, standardized format for the transmission of 3D content in HD. This of course is vital since a standardized format that has the backing of all the consumer electronics giants will ensure that consumers can buy any 3D TVs they wish without having to worry about compatibility with different 3D content sources.

What is Full HD 3D (FHD3D)?

The HDMI 1.4 specification was released in July, 2009 outlining the different 2D and 3D formats that had to be supported by any 3D enabled device that is to be labeled HDMI 1.4 compatible. One of these specifications included the definition and specs of Full High Definition 3D (FHD3D) content which aims at delivering 3D content at 1080p resolution (1920×1080 pixels) frames at 24 fps (frames per second).

A single frame of Full HD 3D (FHD3D) content actually contains both frames for each eye “packed” into it. This is why it is referred to as “Frame Packing”. To maintain full 1080p resolution, the sub-frames for each eye are stacked vertically one on top of the other, so you would expect the net resolution of a FHD3D frame to be 1920×2160. However, the specification also states that the two vertically stacked sub-frames have to be separated by a buffer zone (or active blanking zone) that consists of a blank 1920×45 pixel strip between the two sub-frames. The figure below clearly shows the composition of a single “Packed Frame” comprising the vertically stacked Left and Right sub-frames, separated by a 45 pixel active spacing. As a result, a single Full HD 3D frame has a resolution of 1920×2205 (2160+45=2205). This type of format is called top/bottom or over/under (sometimes even called above/below) for obvious reasons

The FHD3D specification states that such an FHD3D frame will be transmitted at 24 fps (the standard frame rate for all movies/blurays).

Full HD 3D Frame Packing

Composition of a Frame Packed Full HD 3D (FHD3D) Frame

How is FHD-3D content decoded?

The HDMI 1.4 specification stipulates that all 3D displays need to be able to handle all the 3D formats specified within the framework of HDMI 1.4. When a 3D TV receives the Full HD 3D signal, it first reads the EDID of the signal to determine what type of signal it is. Based on the EDID, it will identify the video signal to be FHD3D and will accordingly process the packed frame so as to separate out the 1080p sub-frame for the left and right eye. Once the 3D display does this, it then proceeds to display these images on the screen in a manner consistent with the 3D display technique employed by the 3D TV. So if it is an active shutter based display, it will display each frame sequentially, in-sync with the viewer’s active shutter glasses. In this manner, the HDMI 1.4 specification is “Display technology agnostic” as it does not depend on the details of the 3D display technology (Plasma or LED/LCD, active or passive).

Frame Packed FHD3D Converted to Frame Sequential 3D

Conversion of Frame Packed FHD3D to Frame Sequential 3D

Compatibility of Full HD3D (FHD-3D) with non 3D components and TVs

Since FHD3D is an entirely new format, it is not compatible with TVs and home-theater components that are not HDMI 1.4 compatible (unless you use some sort of converter box that converts the signal into something HDMI 1.3 compatible). The reason is that each video signal has an EDID (an identifier) that identifies the type of signal that is being sent. Older televisions will not be able to recognize the new EDID for such full HD 3D content resulting in a blank screen. For more compatibility related information, be sure to check our comprehensive guide on 3D compatibility.

So will I need new HDMI cables to be able to pass Full HD 3D (FHD3D) signals through to your 3D TV?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is maybe. If you have an old HDMI cable that is not classified as “High Speed HDMI” or as a Category 2 HDMI cable, then you will probably need a newer HDMI cable. The reason being that the older HDMI (category 1) cables were designed to a maximum bandwidth specification of only 2.25 gigabits per second (Gbps) which was plenty to pass through 720p or 1080i content but is not enough to pass through full 1080p HD content. Category 2 HDMI cables on the other hand allow up to 8.2 Gbps of data throughput (10.2 Gbps total, but only 8.2 is available as the rest is used for error-correction purposes) which is more than enough to pass FHD3D and regular 1080p content through.

Our advice is to go to monoprice.com and save a lot of money by purchasing some category 2, HDMI 1.3 or HDMI 1.4 cables from their site. Just make sure never to waste money on overpriced cables that are sold at regular retail stores that are solely there to fleece unsuspecting and uneducated customers.

It should be noted that HDMI 1.4 cables have some additional features like having an integrated Ethernet data channel at 100Mbps. If your TV definitely needs this feature, or if you wish to make use of it, then you should definitely purchase a High-Speed HDMI with Ethernet cable. For more information about HDMI cable compatibility for 3D, be sure to read our 3D HDMI Cable guide.

FHD-3D Summary

In summary, Full HD 3D is an entirely new frame packing 3D format that has been specified to allow all 3D TVs to be compatible with full HD 3D content. It consists of a lossless over/under format that contains sub-frames for each eye, each at 1080p that is packed into a single frame and transmitted at 24 fps.

This article is part of our 3D Format guide. Be sure to read it for more informative articles regarding the various types of 3D formats that 3D content providers are currently using. You might also want to check our exhaustive collection of 3D TV Guides and our 3D Compatibility guide that helps you ensure compatibility between various components of your 3D Home Theater system.
Full HD 3D Frame Packing

What is Frame Packing 3D?

As 3D TVs are gaining more traction and becoming popular with consumers, many have been left confused by the variety of 3D formats that have been adopted by manufacturers and the HDMI 1.4 specification. One of the terms floating around is the 3D Frame Packing format. This article will explain everything you need to know about 3D Frame Packing.

Structure of Frame Packing 3D

Frame Packing refers to the combination of two frames, one for the left eye and the other for the right eye, into a single “packed” frame that consists of these two individual sub-frames. The key difference of a Frame Packing signal is that each sub-frame for each eye is still at full resolution, i.e., 1920×1080 for a 1080p Frame Packing signal, and 1280×720 for 720p Frame Packing 3D content.

In the case of the top-and-bottom Frame Packing 1080p format, it is referred to Full High Definition 3D or FHD3D. Read more about this format in our article on the Frame Packed FHD3D specification. The FHD3D format is one of the mandatory 3D formats specified in HDMI 1.4, which means that all HDMI 1.4 compliant displays will need to be able to handle this Frame packing format. The figure below depicts the Frame Packing FHD3D format. As you can see, this format consists of 2 – 1080p sub-frames, one for each eye, that are stacked vertically with a 45 pixel active blanking space.

Full HD 3D Frame Packing

Composition of a Full HD 3D (FHD3D) Frame Packing Frame

As you might imagine, you can also have Frame Packing using the Side-by-Side 3D method where each sub-frame still maintains full 1080p (or 720p) resolution. However, full resolution, Frame Packing, Side-by-Side 3D is not a mandatory format in the HDMI 1.4 specification, so manufacturers do not have to support it (although they can, if they wish to). For this reason, 3D Blu-ray movie content will be outputted in the Full HD 3D Frame Packing format at 24 frames-per-second.

Displaying 3D Frame Packing Content

Once your HDMI 1.4 compliant TV receives the Frame Packed 3D signal, it will convert it internally into frame sequential 3D as shown in the diagram below. This process consists of reading a single packed frame, and splitting it into its constituent left and right sub-frame and then displaying them on the screen in a frame sequential manner. As mentioned above, the advantage of Frame Packed 3D is that each frame for each eye that is displayed on your TV has full HD resolution.

Frame Packed FHD3D Converted to Frame Sequential 3D

Conversion of Frame Packed FHD3D to Frame Sequential 3D

Since Frame Packing formats are double the size of standard 2D HD content, they are not backwards compatible with HDMI 1.3 devices. On the other hand, Frame Compatible 3D formats downsample the resolution of each subframe by half along one dimension to produce a Side-by-Side 3D or Top-and-Bottom 3D frame that has the same resolution of regular 2D HD content. This is why they are known as Frame compatible and can be backwards compatible with HDMI 1.3 devices. Learn more about Frame Compatible 3D in our guide on this format.

This article is part of our 3D Format guide. Be sure to read it for more informative articles regarding the various types of 3D formats that 3D content providers are currently using. You might also want to check our exhaustive collection of 3D TV Guides and our 3D Compatibility guide that helps you ensure compatibility between various components of your 3D Home Theater system.

What is Frame Compatible 3D?

With the increasing popularity of 3D TVs and 3D Content, many consumers have been left confused by the variety of different 3D formats and specifications that are currently out there. One of the terms floating around is the Frame Compatible 3D format. This article will explain everything you need to know about Frame Compatible 3D.

Both Frame Compatible 3D and Frame Packing 3D formats involve forming a single frame that contains “sub-frames” for the left and right eye. In both cases, the Sub-frames can be packaged together into a single frame via the Side-by-Side 3D format or the Top-and-Bottom 3D format. The key difference of a Frame Compatible signal is that each sub-frame for each eye is down sampled along one axis to lower the resolution of each sub-frame along one axis. As a result, the total dimension of a Frame Compatible Frame is the same as a regular 2D HD frame (since each sub-frame has half the resolution along either the horizontal or vertical dimension). This is the reason this format is called Frame Compatible.

Side-By-Side Frame Compatible 3D

In the case of the Side-by-Side, Frame Compatible 3D or what is also called Side-by-Side (Half) 3D, each frame has the same dimension as a regular 2D HD frame but each sub-frame is downsampled to reduce the horizontal resolution by half. As a result, in the case of 720p side-by-side 3D (ESPN uses 720p Side-by-Side 3D at 60fps for their 3D Channel), each sub-frame is downscaled from 1280×720 to 640×720 resolution (downscaled from 1920×1080 to 960×1080 in the case of 1080p content) and then the left and right eye sub-frames are combined to produce a single Frame Compatible Side-by-Side 3D frame.

Each frame of side-by-side 3D consists of a horizonatally scaled combination of the frames for the left and right eye.

Top-and-Bottom Frame Compatible 3D

Top-and-Bottom (or Over-Under) Frame Compatible 3D works in exactly the same way, except that the halving of resolution of each sub-frame is in the vertical dimension. So a 1080p video feed (1920×1080) formatted using Top-and-Bottom Frame Compatible 3D will consist of two vertically stacked sub-frames, each having a resolution of 1920×540 pixels.

Over-Under or Top and Bottom 3D Format

The Top and Bottom or Over-Under 3D format consists of a single 1080p (or 720p) frame consisting of vertically stacked sub-frames for the left and right eye, each possessing half the full HD resolution along the vertical axis

When a 3D TV receives a Frame Compatible signal, it will take each Frame and split it to extract the sub-frames meant for each eye. Using upscaling algorithms, the 3D TV will then reconvert the sub-frame to a full frame at full HD resolution (although this doesn’t have full 1080p or 720p fidelity, since an upscaling algorithm is involved) and display these sub-frames in a frame sequential manner as shown in the image below.

The primary disadvantage of Frame Compatible 3D signals is that it results in a loss of “true HD” resolution images for each eye. Instead, you have to settle for a halving of the image resolution either along the vertical (Top-and-bottom, Frame Compatible 3D) or horizontal (Side-by-Side Frame Compatible 3D).

The main advantage of this format is that it is compatible within the HDMI 1.3 framework as the frames have the same dimension as regular 2D HD signals. Thus the required bandwidth for the video signal as well as the electronics on the hardware side remains the same. This is the fundamental reason why all cable providers have adopted Frame Compatible 3D formats such as Side-By-Side (Half) 3D, for their 3D Channels. It allows them to provide 3D to consumers without massive upgrades to their infrastructure and having to force consumers to buy a new 3D Capable cable box.

Ultimately, content providers will move towards the Full HD 3D format as consumer demand and infrastructure catches up, but in the mean time, Frame Compatible 3D formats provide a simple, if not ideal solution for providing 3D content to consumers.

This article is part of our 3D Format guide. Be sure to read it for more informative articles regarding the various types of 3D formats that 3D content providers are currently using. You might also want to check our exhaustive collection of 3D TV Guides and our 3D Compatibility guide that helps you ensure compatibility between various components of your 3D Home Theater system.

3D HDMI Cable Guide

You have to admit that with the introduction of HDMI 1.4 specifications and all the changes on the hardware side with the release of new 3D TVs and 3D BluRay players every month, it feels more and more like you have to be a rocket scientist to get your 3D home-theater system up and running. If you are wondering what HDMI cable you need for your 3D TV and 3D hometheater system, look no further. This guide will explain everything you need to know about 3D HDMI cables to ensure that your 3D hometheater works flawlessly.

3D compatibility of various types of HDMI cables

Standard HDMI 1.3 (Category 1) cable

These are the original HDMI cables when HDMI first came into being. They are tested only to 75Mhz or 2.25 Gbps of bandwidth. This is pretty old and outdated and we would not recommend buying these cables. They are only capable of carrying 720p and 1080i video content, so even regular 1080p content is unsupported.

3D Compatibility: Obviously Standard HDMI 1.3 cables (Category 1) are not 3D compatible.

Standard HDMI cable with Ethernet

This type of HDMI cable has been introduced more recently. While it features the new integrated Ethernet capability as specified in the HDMI 1.4 specification, keep in mind that these have the same speed ratings as Standard HDMI cables as listed above, so they only support 720p and 1080i video content.  You will be able to avail of the integrated Ethernet connectivity only if both devices that are connected using this cable are HDMI Ethernet Channel enabled.

3D Compatibility: Just like the Standard HDMI 1.3 Category 1 cables, these cables will not support 3D content and 3D ready TVs and devices.

HDMI High speed (Category 2) cables

High-speed Category 2 HDMI cables are tested and rated up to 340Mhz or 10.2 Gbps of bandwidth. This is more than enough bandwidth for both regular 1080p HD content as well as the new Full HD 3D 1080p Framepacked 3D specification. High-speed category 2 HDMI cables were part of the HDMI 1.3 specification and most folks who own an HDMI cable at this point (if purchased in the last couple of years) probably own this class of HDMI cable. These cables are also capable of supporting newer display technologies as stipulated in the HDMI 1.4 specification such as 4K resolution and Deep Color.

3D Compatibility: What might be surprising to some is that Category 2 High-speed HDMI cables are 3D compatible and will work with HDMI 1.4 devices, so you don’t have to buy a new HDMI 1.4 cable for your 3D home-theater system if you already have these cables lying around. However, one caveat is that these Category 2 HDMI 1.3 cables do not support some of the newer features that were specified in the HDMI 1.4 specification, such as an integrated Ethernet channel within the cable and the integration of a Return audio channel (See our HDMI 1.4 Guide for more details).  So the upshot is that if all you want is to connect your 3D TV to your 3D Receiver or 3D BluRay player, only for transferring the 3D video content, then you can get away with a simple Category 2 High speed HDMI cable. Keep in mind that if your devices supports the integrated Ethernet feature, you will not be able to make use of it using High-Speed HDMI Cables. It should be noted that the Return Audio feature in HDMI 1.4 will work will all existing HDMI cables and does not require a special type of HDMI cable.

HDMI High speed cables with Ethernet

These cables are identical to HDMI High-speed cables in terms of their bandwidth rating. As a result they are compatible with 1080p 2D and 3D content and even support all the new features in the HDMI 1.4 specifications. This cable also features an integrated Ethernet channel capable of 100Mbps data transfer. This will work only if the 2 devices being connected are HDMI Ethernet Channel enabled. The HDMI high speed cable is the only cable that supports ALL features of the HDMI 1.4 specification. So if you want absolute peace of mind, you can just buy a few of these and be assured that these will work with all HDMI 1.4 and 1.3 devices (HDMI 1.4 is backwards compatible with HDMI 1.3).

3D Compatibility: As mentioned, this cable is compatible with all 3D specifications as listed in the HDMI 1.4 specification.

Summary

Hopefully this article has helped clarify the different types of HDMI cables that are currently available to the consumer. For your 3D TV you should look at getting one of the two High Speed HDMI cable as they are the only ones capable of transmitting 3D content. If your 3D hometheater devices have integrated Ethernet channel capabilities for internet connectivity and sharing, then you will want to buy a high speed HDMI cable with integrated Ethernet. Otherwise, a regular High Speed HDMI cable will work just fine.

This article is part of our 3D Compatibility guide. Be sure to check it for more informative articles regarding the compatibility of home theater components with your 3D TV as well as how HDMI 1.3 and HDMI 1.4 affect compatibility in your 3D home-theater system.

3D Home Theater Component Compatibility Guide (HDMI 1.4)

With the introduction of the HDMI 1.4 specification, many consumers have been left confused regarding the compatibility of their 3D TVs and other home-theater components. While the simplest solution would be to recommend replacing your entire home-theater setup with new HDMI 1.4 compliant devices, this is obviously non-ideal for consumers. This article has been written to help consumers analyze each component of their 3D home-theater setup to help understand what impact HDMI 1.4 will have and whether they can achieve a perfectly compatible 3D home-theater system without having to upgrade all components.

So with that, let’s dive into the various components of a 3D Home theater system and look at any compatibility issues they have with HDMI 1.3 and HDMI 1.4.

3D TV Compatibility with HDMI 1.3 – HDMI 1.4

Most 3D TVs that were sold starting in 2010 were HDMI 1.4 compliant. This is a good thing, since HDMI 1.4 specifies the various acceptable 3D formats for all 3D sources. So if your 3D TV is HDMI 1.4 compliant, then you can rest assured that it will work with all the latest 3D content sources such as 3D Blu-Ray and 3D cable from your local cable service provider.

On the other hand, if you own an older 3D Ready TV that was sold without active shutter glasses and a sync transmitter, then you most likely own a TV that is only HDMI 1.3 compliant. In that case, your 3D TV will not be able to handle all 3D content formats as specified in the HDMI 1.4 specification since the Full HD 3D specification is completely new and not backwards compatible with the HDMI 1.3 specification. To successfully view FHD3D content on your HDMI 1.3 compatible TV, you will need to purchase an external converter box (if available) that processes the FHD3D signal and converts it into a signal such as Side-by-Side 3D or Top-Bottom 3D that your HDMI 1.3 compatible TV is capable of displaying.

In general, Side-by-Side 3D and Top-Bottom 3D (Over-Under 3D) formats that end up halving the sub-frame resolution in the horizontal and vertical dimension respectively (Frame Compatible 3D), are compatible with HDMI 1.3 components since they use the same bandwidth as regular 1080p HD content. Additionally, Side-by-Side 3D and Top-Bottom 3D were one of the first 3D formats that were adopted, thus resulting in early HDMI 1.3 compliant “3D Ready or 3D capable TVs” being able to process these formats.

Keep in mind that if you own an HDMI 1.3 capable TV and connect it to the HDMI 1.4 port of a Blu-Ray player, you might have compatibility issues as your HDMI 1.4 will try to “talk” with your TV but will be unable to do so since your TV is only HDMI 1.3 compliant.

Audio/Video Receiver Compatibility with HDMI 1.4

This is one of the main problems for most consumers. Most AV receivers sold up until mid-2010 were all HDMI 1.3 compliant. This creates a problem when connecting your receiver to a 3D Blu-Ray player that is HDMI 1.4 compliant. The reason is that when devices are connected to each other via HDMI, they communicate with each other via EDID (Extended Display Identification Data), which is a system for all the components in your Home Theater system to communicate with each other and identify their display capabilities. The problem is that when you connect your HDMI 1.4 capable 3D TV, or Blu-Ray player to your AV receiver, they will communicate to the receiver that they are capable of handling a number of formats as specified under the HDMI 1.4 specification (such as Full HD 3D). All these formats have new EDIDs, that were undefined under HDMI 1.3. As a result, the AV receiver won’t know what to do with the signal it is receiving as it won’t be able to identify the EDID of the other components attached to it, thus resulting in no signal being transmitted through.

This is very unfortunate as many consumers do not feel like dropping more money on a new AV receiver after already having spent money on a new 3D TV, 3D BluRay player and 3D Glasses. One way around this is to buy a Panasonic 3D BluRay player, as some of their offerings have an HDMI 1.4 port as well as another HDMI 1.3 port that acts as an Audio-out. In this case, you can connect the HDMI 1.4 port directly to your TV to display the video and you can connect the HDMI 1.3 audio-out to your HDMI 1.3 capable AV receiver to output the audio to your speaker system. You have to give kudos to Panasonic for being one of the only manufacturers to go out of their way to help consumers defray the cost of 3D adoption.

Blu-Ray Player compatibility with HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 1.3

If you have a non-3D, HDMI 1.3 compliant Blu-Ray player, then you have nothing to worry about. You can connect your BluRay player to an HDMI 1.3 or HDMI 1.4 TV and AV receiver without any issue since HDMI 1.4 compliant devices are backwards compatible with HDMI 1.3.

On the other hand, if you own a 3D BluRay player, then your 3D Blu-Ray player is definitely HDMI 1.4 compliant. In that case, you will need to ensure that you connect your BluRay player to other HDMI 1.4 compatible devices. If you connect and your HDMI 1.4 BluRay player to an HDMI 1.3 TV, then you will most likely have compatibility issues for some types of 3D formats. As explained earlier, Legacy 3D TVs do not support all the types of 3D formats specified in the HDMI 1.4 specification (like FHD3D). So if your BluRay player tries to send this signal to your HDMI 1.3 compliant 3D TV, you will get a blank screen.

If you do own an HDMI 1.3 compliant legacy 3D TV, then we would recommend that you do some research on the 3D BluRay player that you purchase so that you can ensure that it has the capability to output all 3D content in a format that your 3D TV will be able to understand (such as checkerboard pattern or side-by-side 3D).

Similarly, connecting to an AV receiver will involve connecting to an HDMI 1.4 compliant receiver. If not, you will need to look into a solution like the Panasonic 3D Blu-Ray player mentioned in the previous section of this article.

Cable Box Compatibility with HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 1.3

Most digital cable boxes provided by your local cable service providers are only HDMI 1.3 compliant. The cable companies are providing firmware upgrades to their cable boxes to enable 3D functionality. Since 3D cable broadcasts use the side-by-side 3D format (with half the horizontal resolution) or top and bottom 3D (half vertical resolution), these formats can be transmitted within the HDMI 1.3 framework without any issue (since transmitting these formats is the same as transmission of regular 1080p content). Since all HDMI 1.4 compliant displays have to be able to support these formats, they will have no issues reading this format and displaying it in 3D. The only thing you will need to do is manually set your TV into the 3D mode since the HDMI 1.3 cable box will most likely be unable to transmit the correct EDID for the 3D format it is transmitting.

Thus, compatibility with Cable boxes is a less worrisome issue since the boxes themselves are HDMI 1.3 compliant devices. HDMI 1.3 3D TVs will also be able to display the 3D content from your cable service provider as long as your 3D TV is capable of processing and displaying side-by-side 3D or over-under 3D (depending on which format is used by your cable provider).

HDMI Cable compatibility with HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 1.3

Finally, HDMI cables also play an important part in connectivity and compatibility of your 3D home-theater devices. For a detailed look, please refer to our 3D HDMI Cable guide. The good news is that High-Speed HDMI Cables (Category 2) that have been quite common in current home theater systems, are capable of transmitting even the most bandwidth intensive of all 3D signals (FHD3D). Thus, you will not need to purchase new HDMI cables to hook up your HDMI 1.4 devices in your 3D home-theater set up. The only feature that you will miss out on by using current HDMI cables (category 2) is the integrated Ethernet channel feature that is part of the HDMI 1.4 specification. If you do wish to make use of this feature (and if your devices support this feature), you will need to purchase a separate, High-speed HDMI with Ethernet cable.

Summary

Hopefully this article has helped clarify a number of questions related to HDMI 1.3 and 1.4 and how they affect the compatibility of the various components of your 3D home theater system. Keep in mind that HDMI 1.4 is backwards compatible with HDMI 1.3 but not vice versa, so you always need to be more careful when connecting a component that is HDMI 1.4 capable, that transmits a signal to an HDMI 1.3 capable device.

This article is part of our 3D Compatibility guide. Be sure to check it out for more informative articles regarding the compatibility of home theater components with your 3D TV as well as how HDMI 1.3 and HDMI 1.4 affect compatibility in your 3D home-theater system. You might also want to take a look at our 3D Format Guide that explains how all the various 3D formats work.

Will my 3D TV work with HDMI 1.3?

A common question for many consumers is whether they should be worried about HDMI 1.4 and what the introduction of this specification means for their 3D TV set up and for compatibility with other components of their 3D home-theater systems. This article will look into the HDMI 1.3 specification, and how your 3D ready TV can still display 3D content under the HDMI 1.3 framework. We will also briefly cover what new features HDMI 1.4 brings that you might not be able to enjoy with HDMI 1.3.

The HDMI 1.4 specification brings a lot of new 3D specific features to the table. The primary motivation is to allow for a standardization of 3D content formats so as to ensure that all 3D capable devices and displays can maintain compatibility and successfully display 3D content. So the big question for many is, will my HDMI 1.3 TV that is 3D Ready still be able to play 3D content and how?

The answer to this question is that it depends. For a lot of the 3D TVs that were released in 2009 as “3D Ready” or “3D Capable”, but without any transmitters and active shutter glasses, they are restricted to having HDMI 1.3. As a result, when these displays receive 3D content that is formatted as per the HDMI 1.4 framework, they will not be able to read the infoframe that is sent along with the video signal that identifies the format of the signal. In the case of Full HD 3D (FHD3D), this is an entirely new format introduced with HDMI 1.4 and it will not be compatible with older HDMI 1.3 capable 3D TVs. However, it is possible to still view this signal if a converter box is purchased that processes this signal and converts it into a form (usually Side-by-side 3D, half) that the HDMI 1.3 capable 3D TV can process and display. Mitsubishi already demonstrated such a box at CES 2010, so things don’t look too bleak.

In addition to this, other formats such as Side-by-Side 3D and Over-Under 3D (or Top and Bottom 3D) that use half the resolution for each sub-frame (Check the links for more details on these formats) will be compatible with these older 3D TVs as long as you can set the TV to “Side by Side 3D” or “Over-Under 3D” mode. If you’ve read your TV manual, you will already know which types of 3D format your TV can successfully handle.

As far as HDMI cables go, your regular High-speed HDMI Cables (Category 2) are good enough even for the new HDMI 1.4 specification (except if you want to make use of the integrated Ethernet feature). So you certainly won’t need to upgrade your HDMI cables.

However, the dilemma is that you will most probably not be able to support all 3D formats in the HDMI 1.4 specification, depending on what types of 3D signals your TV was designed to handle. So you might find yourself in situations where some 3D content works while other content doesn’t. A converter box will likely be a necessity in this case,  but companies like Mitsubishi have been very good about providing such devices to their customers to ensure that they can enjoy a good 3D experience on their DLP 3D TVs.

To summarize, not all 3D formats (for example, the FHD3D format) will work on older HDMI 1.3 compatible 3D Ready TVs unless the video signal is first processed by a converter box that processes the signal into a compatible signal for the 3D TV. Side-by-side 3D and Over-Under 3D signals will most likely work with such 3D capable TVs as long as the TV has a setting to process such type of signals.

This article is part of our 3D Compatibility guide. Be sure to check it out for more informative articles regarding the compatibility of home theater components with your 3D TV as well as how HDMI 1.3 and HDMI 1.4 affect compatibility in your 3D home-theater system. You might also want to take a look at our 3D Format Guide that explains how all the various 3D formats work.
HDMI 1.4

What is the difference between HDMI 1.3 and HDMI 1.4?

HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface and is a compact AV interface for transmission of uncompressed audio and video via a single cable. So far, most devices have relied on the HDMI 1.3 specification that introduced a number of exciting features in its time such as support for integrated HD video and high quality digital audio. This article is aimed at providing a clear and concise outline with regards to the difference between HDMI 1.3 and HDMI 1.4.

In 2010, the HDMI 1.4 specification has been made public with a number of exciting features. HDMI 1.4 was primarily introduced to provide compatibility and a standardized specification for 3D content so as to ensure that all 3D capable TVs, displays and receivers could operate without any conflicts.  The primary differences between HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 1.3 are:

Support for 3D content and 3D playback

HDMI 1.4 specifies a number of different types of mandatory 3D formats that have to be supported by all 3D displays for them to be HDMI 1.4 compliant. These include the awesome Full HD 3D (FHD3D) 3D format specification that allows for true 1080p HD 3D video at 24fps (what most 3D BluRays provide), as well as a number of side-by-side 3D formats and top-and-bottom 3D formats. Check the links above as well as our article on the details of the HDMI 1.4 specification for more details, but what you need to know is that HDMI 1.4 specifies a number of different 3D formats that all 3D TVs will be able to handle and display if they are rated to be HDMI 1.4 compliant.

So if you connect an HDMI 1.4 3D TV with an HDMI 1.4 compliant audio receiver and cable box, you can rest assured that all your components will play along nicely with each other. However, you can still get away with watching 3D content without having to upgrade all your 3D home-theater devices to HDMI 1.4. If you want more details regarding that, be sure to check our in-depth 3D component compatibility guide.

HDMI 1.3 on the other hand does not natively support 3D formats, although 3D content can still be sent over HDMI 1.3 in a side-by-side 3D configuration (or over-under 3D). In that case, your 3D TV will still need to be capable of converting this into 3D via settings in the TV menu where you will have to manually choose the nature of the 3D content formatting. The nice thing about HDMI 1.4 is that all information about the 3D content type is relayed along with the video signal, so your 3D TV and all other connected components will automatically know what signal they are being fed and will automatically know how to handle it. This means less confusion for you, the consumer, so it is something to be excited about :).

Ethernet over HDMI

This is a pretty neat feature of the HDMI 1.4 specification. HDMI 1.3 only allows for the simultaneous transport of video and audio. However, the HDMI 1.4 specification allows for the HDMI cable to also have an integrated bi-directional Ethernet channel with a 100Mbps bandwidth (standard for home networks). As more and more devices in our home-theater systems have begun demanding internet connectivity, this provides an elegant solution for internet sharing between multiple devices without having to connect each to your home network via a separate Ethernet cable. This will help a lot in de-cluttering the jumble of wires at the back of your 3D Home theater. You will need to buy a special High-speed HDMI cable with Ethernet to avail of this integrated Ethernet feature (i.e., if your HDMI 1.4 compliant devices support this feature). Read our HDMI cable guide for more details about the new HDMI cables and their 3D compatibility.

Audio Return Channel

This is another new feature exclusive to HDMI 1.4 that is not supported by HDMI 1.3. HDMI 1.3 only allows for 1-way transfer of audio (usually from the receiver to the TV). However, HDMI 1.4 will enable devices to return audio along the same cable thus preventing the need to have a separate Audio-out connection from your TV to another component. While regular HDMI 1.3 compatible cables can still be used for this feature (return audio doesn’t require a new type of HDMI cable), only HDMI 1.4 compliant devices that have audio return features enabled will be able to support it.

Support for Deep Color and Expanded Color Spaces

HDMI 1.4 also supports expanded color spaces in comparison to HDMI 1.3. Expanded color spaces will allow for display of more colors and hence more accurate representation of real world colors on your TV

Support for 4K resolution content

HDMI 1.4 brings support for 4k x 2k resolution (4096 x 2160 resolution), a significant improvement over current HDMI 1.3 standards of 1080p. However, this isn’t a critical feature yet as we are still several years away from moving towards industry wide support for 4k resolution.

New HDMI Cables and Connectors

HDMI 1.4 introduces Mini HDMI and Micro HDMI connectors that are much smaller in size than standard HDMI connectors. Similar to Micro USB connectors, these have been introduced so that Laptops, netbooks, Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices can feature HDMI ports that maintain the same functionality but with reduced connector footprint. As mentioned above, HDMI 1.4 also introduces a new type of High Speed HDMI cable with Ethernet that incorporates a bi-directional, 100 Mbps channel for integrated Ethernet capabilities. For more information about all the HDMI cables available and their compatibility, check our 3D HDMI Cable guide.

Summary of differences between HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 1.3

In summary, HDMI 1.4 brings a number of new features for enabling 3D, and lays down a number of 3D format specifications to ensure device compatibility for the display of 3D content. While High-speed Category 2 cables fitting the HDMI 1.3 specification can still be used with HDMI 1.4 devices, these cables will not have the ability to support integrated Ethernet connectivity (for which you will need to buy a new High-speed HDMI cable with Ethernet).  HDMI 1.4 also brings a number of new features, some that will have immediate impact, while others have been introduced with an eye towards the future.  All-in-all, HDMI 1.4 introduces some nice improvements over the HDMI 1.3 framework and will help provide better 3D compatibility while also reducing the number of cables required in your home-theater system thanks to the integrated Ethernet and return audio channel feature of HDMI 1.4.

If you have any questions or comments about this article and the difference between HDMI 1.3 and HDMI 1.4, feel free to leave us a comment below.

This article is part of our 3D Compatibility guide. Be sure to check it out for more informative articles regarding the compatibility of home theater components with your 3D TV as well as how HDMI 1.3 and HDMI 1.4 affect compatibility in your 3D home-theater system. You might also want to take a look at our 3D Format Guide that explains how all the various 3D formats work.
HDMI 1.4

HDMI 1.4 and 3D Specifications Explained

While everyone is excited about the introduction and widespread adoption of 3D TVs, a large number of consumers have been left confused by the 3D-specific jargon, various new specifications and varieties of 3D TV technology and formats currently available. One such specification that has changed for 3D TVs is the transition to HDMI 1.4 which was largely created to cater to the enhanced demands of delivering full 1080p 3D content to your television. Now, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding on the internet with regards to the capabilities of HDMI 1.3 and HDMI 1.4 and whether you can still use your 3D TV with HDMI 1.3 cables and receivers.

The 3D TV guides and Articles on this site were written to help clarify a lot of misconceptions and provide clear, concise and easy to digest information for consumers looking to understand 3D TV technology before making a purchase. This article should help clarify all your doubts and concerns about HDMI 1.4.

What is HDMI?

First let’s tackle what HDMI is and some of the new features HDMI 1.4 brings to the table. HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface and is a compact AV interface for transmission of uncompressed audio and video via a single cable. Just like the VGA cables that are/were typically used to connect your computer and laptop to a monitor or projector, the HDMI cable is another type of interface cable that can carry both digital audio and video in a lossless manner from one device to another.

The previous iteration of HDMI was HDMI 1.3, which provided a large bandwidth to accommodate for transmission of full 1080p at 24 frames per second (fps). However, a number of HDMI 1.3 devices only support/supported 1080i @ 24fps. If you are interested, feel free to read our article regarding the difference between HDMI 1.4 and HDMI 1.3.

Common Misconceptions about HDMI 1.4

HDMI is not a cable. It is an “ecosystem” if you will, which consists of the entire interface that transmits high definition video between devices. The HDMI cable is just a component that acts as the carrier of the actual video and audio signal. While consumers have typically only had to worry about HDMI in terms of buying the right type (or version) of cable to hook things up, with the introduction of HDMI 1.4 and 3D TVs, the consumer needs to be better aware of what the implications of HDMI are in terms of how his or her home-theater components will be able to talk with each other.  Don’t worry, this article should help clarify things for you.

New Features of the HDMI 1.4 Specifications

3D Support

One of the key features of the HDMI 1.4 specification is the support for 3D content and a set of specifications for 3D content that have to be supported by all 3D Displays for them to be HDMI 1.4 compliant.  HDMI 1.4 stipulates that the following 3D content formats must be supported by all 3D displays and at least one of them must be supported by any repeaters (home-theater receivers) and 3D content sources (3D Bluray discs, 3D via cable service providers, etc). This will ensure that any 3D content format supported by the HDMI 1.4 specification will be played without issue by a HDMI 1.4 compliant 3D TV/home-theater system. If you are interested in understanding the various 3D Formats, be sure to read our in-depth 3D Format Guide.

For movie content:

  • Frame Packing (Full HD 3D or FHD3D)
    • 1080p at 23.98/24Hz with each frame having resolution 1920×2205, containing lossless sub-frames for the left and right eye.

For game content:

  • Frame Packing (2 – 720p frames packed in over/under or top-and-bottom configuration)
    • 720p at 50 or 59.94/60Hz

For broadcast content:

Integrated Ethernet Channel

More and more televisions include widgets and internet apps as well as the ability to stream online video directly to your TV. Currently, you either need a WiFi adapter/integrated Wifi, or you need to connect your TV to the internet via an Ethernet cable. As more devices within your home-theater system demand internet connectivity, connecting each to your home network via a separate Ethernet cable becomes a very messy proposition. To solve this, HDMI 1.4 allows for a bi-directional communication channel that enables data transfer at 100 Mbps. This will allow a single component in your home theater setup to be connected to your home network, which in turn will be able to relay this internet connectivity to other HDMI 1.4 compliant devices in your home-theater system that allow for this bi-dircectional integrated Ethernet.

Note: If you want to make use of this feature, you will need to buy a new HDMI 1.4 compliant cable that supports an integrated Ethernet channel for this to work. In addition, you will need to ensure that your home-theater components are HDMI 1.4 and support this integrated Ethernet feature. Be sure to check out our article regarding choosing the correct HDMI cables for your 3D Home Theater system.

Integrated Audio Return Channel

HDMI 1.3 only supports upstream transfer of an integrated audio signal. For example, sending both video and audio from your HD cable box to your TV. However, the HDMI 1.4 specification allows for an integrated audio return channel. This is an extremely useful feature and in combination with the Integrated Ethernet Channel feature, will really help de-clutter your 3D home-theater setup and significantly reduce the jumble of wires and cables. With this Return audio channel feature, you won’t need to have a separate digital audio out running from your TV to your audio receiver.

Other HDMI 1.4 features

Some other not so important features (currently) that have also been introduced by the HDMI 1.4 specification include the support for 4K resolution video content at 24Hz (4096×2160) along with some intermediate resolutions as well. Hollywood shoots all its movies at this resolution and this is the resolution displayed by typical digital movie projectors at your local movie theater. This is more of a future proofing of the standard as content providers are still several years away from moving to such resolutions. Manufacturers are also going to hold off on providing 4K resolution displays while they focus on improving picture quality and the 3D technology of their displays.

HDMI 1.4 also supports smaller HDMI connectors (HDMI Mini and HDMI Micro). This is primarily designed for mobile devices (smartphones, netbooks, tablets, cameras, etc) so that in the future, it will be easy enough to hook up your camera or laptop to your TV in full HD/3D glory.

We have left out a few of the minor features of HDMI 1.4 that do not have any direct impact on consumers so as to keep this article concise.

Summary

In summary HDMI 1.4 brings many new features to the table. Most importantly, it lays down a well thought out specification for 3D content, thus ensuring that all 3D TVs and displays will be able to successfully display 3D content from a source as long as both the display and the 3D content source are HDMI 1.4 compatible. This is not a major worry since all the manufacturers are producing HDMI 1.4 compatible 3D capable devices from 2010. It does produce some confusion if you have a mix of HDMI 1.4 compatible and HDMI 1.3 devices in your home-theater setup.  In that case you will need to pay more careful attention towards the capabilities and specifications of your 3D home-theater components. Check out our 3D Compatibility guide to help you understand everything you need to know about ensuring that your 3D home theater system works flawlessly.

What is Side by Side 3D?

With consumer electronics pundits predicting the success of 3D HDTVs in a big way, consumers have been left confused with regards to the various 3D terminologies being thrown at them by 3D TV manufacturers. One of the common areas of confusion is with regards to 3D content, and how it is delivered to a 3D TV, as well as the various encoding formats that are compatible with different 3D televisions. One of the terms that is being thrown around with regards to the airing of 3D content over cable, is Side by Side 3D. So if you are wondering just what exactly is Side by Side 3D, then this article is perfect for you and will attempt to answer all your questions.

As you may already be aware, almost all 3D TVs that are being released in 2010 rely on the frame sequential 3D display method. However, this doesn’t mean that the input 3D signal to the TV has to be in a frame-sequential format. In fact, pretty much all 3D HDTVs can process 3D signals in a variety of different formats and perform on-the-fly conversion of the incoming 3D video signal into a frame sequential format. While frame-sequential 3D is part of the blu-ray 3D spec, when it comes to airing 3D content over cable/air, Side by Side 3D is proving to be a popular choice. In fact, DirecTV has announced that it will be airing 3D programming by using the side-by-side 3D format. ESPN will also be airing 3D content using a 60fps, 720p side-by-side format.

Each frame of side-by-side 3D consists of a horizontally scaled combination of the frames for the left and right eye.

How Side by Side 3D Works

In side-by-side 3D, a full 1080p or 720p frame consists of two halves on the left and right, with the entire frame for the left eye scaled down horizontally to fit the left-half of the frame, and the entire frame for the right eye scaled down horizontally to fit the right side of the frame. Thus, in the case of 720p content (resolution of 1280 x 720), each frame will actually consist of the horizontally scaled frame for the left eye with a resolution of 640 x 720 and adjacent to it, the corresponding frame for the right eye at the same 640×720 resolution. The image to the right shows what this looks like.

As you might have already noticed, side-by-side 3D results in a halving of the horizontal resolution of each frame intended for the left and right eye. When the 3D ready TV receives this side-by-side 3D signal, it splits each frame to extract the frame for each eye, and then rescales these individual frames to a full HD resolution using upscaling algorithms. It then displays these upscaled individual frames alternately in a frame-sequential manner (see the second image below) that is in sync with your active shutter 3D glasses.

Conversion of side by side 3D content to frame-sequential 3D

You are probably wondering why we would want to settle for a seemingly inferior technique of transmitting 3D content that leads to a halving of the horizontal resolution of the image. The reason that side-by-side 3D is a popular choice for 3D content at the moment is that it uses the same bandwidth as regular HD content, so it can be transmitted in the same way that current HD signals are transmitted. As a result, you won’t need an expensive set-top-box replacement for viewing 3D content. Instead, your cable service providers can upgrade the firmware of the set-top-box to enable the transmission of side by side 3D content to your 3D TV. It should be noted that ESPN has already done some testing with 720p side-by-side content for sporting events and the feedback from initial testers has been extremely positive.

Hopefully, you now understand what side by side 3D is. It is just another method to deliver 3D content to your 3D capable flatscreen TV and although it does lead to the halving of the frame resolution along the horizontal axis, it still provides an excellent 3D viewing experience. Additionally, it has the advantage of allowing for backwards compatibility with current HD set top boxes. Be sure to check out our 3D Television guide section for more information about the latest 3D TV technology.

What is Frame Sequential 3D?

While the 3D TV market is set to take off in a big way, one of the annoyances at the moment is that there is still no standardized method for transmission and encoding of 3D content. Thankfully however, this isn’t akin to the typical format wars because even though there are a number of different techniques that are in use for encoding 3D videos, all 3D HDTVs can process this incoming 3D signal and re-encode it on the fly to a specification and format that allows it to display the 3D content.

Frame Sequential 3D content consists of alternate frames that are meant for each eye

One of the primary 3D formats is what is called Frame Sequential 3D. Frame sequential 3D, as the name implies, consists of a sequence of alternating frames wherein each successive frame carries the image meant for one or the other eye. This means that if Frame number 1 contains the image for the left eye, then frame number 2 carries the image meant for the right eye, with frame number 3 again carrying the image for the left eye, and so on and so forth.

This format is quite popular and is part of the 3D Blu-Ray specifications. The reason it is popular is because it lends itself very well to Active shutter based 3D capable TVs since these 3D TVs rely on the alternate display of the left and right eye images in quick succession. Thus, in the case of Active shutter displays, the frame sequential 3D video is directly displayed on the 3D screen. The only tricky bit is to sync the active shutter glasses with the 3D TV so that the active shutter glasses allow the left eye to view the screen at exactly the same moment when the frame corresponding to the left eye is being displayed on the television screen. Subsequently, the active shutter glass will turn opaque and switch the eyepiece for the right eye from opaque to transparent so that the viewer can now view the next frame intended for the right eye.

Thus, ultimately, frame sequential content work well with frame sequential displays. However, you can be reassured that there is nothing much to worry about when it comes to the encoding format for 3D content as almost all 3D ready TVs released in 2010 will be capable of handling multiple 3D formats and converting it to a suitable form so that they are able to display it on screen. Update – Be sure to check out our 3D Formats Guide as well as our article on the new HDMI 1.4 3D specifications.

This article is part of our 3D Format guide. Be sure to read it for more informative articles regarding the various types of 3D formats that 3D content providers are currently using. You might also want to check our exhaustive collection of 3D TV Guides and our 3D Compatibility guide that helps you ensure compatibility between various components of your 3D Home Theater system.

More Information – JVC: 3D Video Technology

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What is the correct viewing angle for 3D TVs?

With an industry wide push towards 3D HDTVs, there are many questions that consumers have regarding this new technology. One of the questions people often ask is – What is the proper or correct viewing angle for 3D Televisions? If you are wondering what the best viewing angle for 3D TVs is, then this article is meant just for you.

In the case of 3D content that is currently available, the 3D scenes are shot from a fixed head-on perspective (since that is the perspective of the camera that is used for filming the 3-D content). To get the best and most realistic 3D experience, you would want your viewpoint and viewing angle to match that of the camera as closely as possible. Thus, you would want to literally observe the scene through the camera lens. In order to achieve this, it is advisable to be seated such that you are viewing your 3D TV along the TV axis, i.e., at a viewing angle of zero degrees.

As you start to move further and further off-normal from the screen, the 3D scene will look a little strange to you as your brain tries to make sense of the images it is receiving. This is because your brain expects to see a side-view, or angled perspective of the 3D-scene when it is viewing it at an angle. Instead, it is still perceiving the head-on view (or the camera view) while viewing the display and the 3D scene at an angle. This results in an uncomfortable and less realistic 3D experience for the viewer. For this reason, you would want to minimize your viewing angle as much as possible to enjoy 3D content on your 3D ready flat screen TV.

We advise that you maintain a horizontal viewing angle no greater than 30 degrees when viewing 3D content, (i.e. +/- 30 degrees from the axis of the TV). Keeping this in mind, it is obvious that the large viewing angle afforded by Plasma 3D TVs is not as big an advantage when it comes to 3D flat panel displays since the viewer is ultimately required to be within a much narrower viewing angle to enjoy the 3D content. So if you are trying to pick between an LCD or Plasma 3D TV, viewing angle should be less of a consideration for selecting between the two display technologies.

What about Vertical viewing angle for 3D TVs?

This is an easy one to answer. You would ideally want to be viewing the 3D display at a vertical viewing angle of zero degrees, i.e., the center of the HDTV screen should be at your eye level when you are seated in front of the TV. +/- 15 degrees will work just as well, although it is quite easy to set your 3D flat screen TV such that it along your eye level when you are seated.

Ultimately, the best viewing angle for 3D TVs is Zero degrees. Of course, this is not always achievable, but we do recommend trying to minimize it and not going above +/- 30 degrees when viewing 3D content. Be sure to check out our 3D TV reviews to find 3-D HDTVs with excellent viewing angles and picture quality.

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10 Reasons Why 3D TVs Will Succeed

Unified Industry Wide Support for 3D

If there is one thing that was made abundantly clear at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this year (2010), it was that the entire consumer electronics industry is strongly pushing for a switch to 3D. Riding on the enormous success of James Cameron’s latest movie, Avatar, many of the big name electronics manufacturers are making a strong case for bringing an authentic 3D experience to the consumer’s living room. This time around the timing seems perfect. Over 60% of Avatar’s ticket sales were for 3D viewings of the movie, a startling statistic given that the number of 3D capable screens around the world are far outnumbered by their regular 2D counterparts.

Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Vizio, Sharp (see, I wasn’t exaggerating about the industry wide bit) and a number of other manufacturers have all announced new 3D capable models that they will be releasing over the course of 2010. Never before have we seen such widespread industry support for 3D, and this will certainly go a long way in helping bring 3D to the masses.

“Where is the 3D Content?”

Many people seem to whine about the lack of 3D content and that this lack of 3D content guarantees the failure of this industry push towards 3D. After all, content is king right? There are some issues with this criticism however.

  1. 3D TVs have only just been announced in CES 2010 and only a handful of 3D ready TVs have already been released. While there isn’t too much 3D content available at the moment, this is only because 3D content and 3D-content capable hardware have to mutually co-exist. No one is going to produce 3D content before the hardware to view it exists and is widely available to consumers.
  2. ESPN, DirectTV, Discovery Channel and UK’s Sky have pledged support for delivering 3D content as early as 2010. ESPN has already procured the necessary equipment for shooting live events in 3D and plan to air football and NBA in 3D in the near future. A number of other content providers are also joining ranks and pledging support for delivering more 3D content. While 3D content is still at a nascent stage, we have to keep in mind that these are still early days. However, with all the industry support so far, the signs seem very positive.

Hollywood is also backing this push to 3D with over 20 3D movies to be released over 2010. Keep in mind also that every 3D animated film will likely be available in 3D as this medium enables an effortless transition for producing movies in 3D. These numbers will only increase, especially if there is widespread interest in 3D content as witnessed by the success of Avatar in 3D.

3D TVs are Backward Compatible with Regular 2D

This is one of the chief reasons why I believe that 3D will eventually succeed over time. Pretty much all the proposed 3D technologies that are being developed by various electronics manufacturers are compatible with regular 2D content. This of course is for a good reason as it would be suicidal on the part of device manufacturers to make their 3D sets not compatible with conventional 2D content given that there is a long transition period ahead as we make the switch from 2D to 3D (and perhaps it will never be a complete 100% switch).

Displays requiring active shutter glasses are pretty much your regular high performance LCD or Plasma TV with a high refresh rate (120-240 Hz) and the ability to sync with your active shutter glasses. However, they are perfectly capable displays for 2D content as well and there shouldn’t be any real decrease in performance or image quality. Additionally, the high refresh rates of newer 3D TVs will actually be a bonus for regular 2D content as this refresh rate boost will help smooth the display of fast paced 2D scenes and sporting events. Finally, the prices of the TVs themselves aren’t going to be all that much more than regular TVs. Sure, there will be a premium for early adopters, but as with any technology, the prices will drop as the technology becomes more widespread and manufacturers spend more resources on improving their fabrication and production facilities (just as in the case of LCD/Plasma TVs). If you don’t want 3D at all, you could still buy a 3D capable set for roughly the same price as regular TVs and just skip buying 3D glasses and any other accessories that you might need for viewing 3D content on your new TV. All in all, it’s a win-win situation either way and this is one of the main reasons why I believe that in the long run adoption of 3D TVs and hence 3D in general will win.

Those who seem to take the greatest offense to the notion of the widespread adoption of 3D seem to be the ones who have invested a lot of money in expensive home theater equipment that is not 3D capable. While unfortunate, that is always the price you pay when it comes to anything technology related. You can never expect a guaranty that your new fangled gadgets that you spent a fortune on won’t go obsolete within the next few months or years.

No! 3D Content isn’t That Expensive to Create

Another argument that is thrown around a lot of times is regarding how expensive it is to create 3D content and that this massive expense will be the primary reason for 3D to fail. This is something I’ve never quite understood. With recent advances in 3D technology, a lot of it pioneered by James Cameron in conjunction with Vince Pace the cost of filming in 3D has actually decreased. In addition, the advances made by Cameron and co now enables directors to shoot in Stereoscopic 3D without being restricted by an unwieldy and massive 3D camera as was the case a few years ago. In fact, Sony recently announced the development of a single lens 3D camera capable of recording video at a staggering frame rate of 240 fps! (Press Release by Sony regarding their Single Lens 3D Camera)

Panasonic also announced a Professional twin-lens camcorder at CES 2010 while other manufacturers such as DXG are pushing towards creating sub $200 personal 3D camcorders. All in all, there is a lot of thrust in improving the technology in this field and the price of creating 3D content is going to drop rapidly. The same arguments could have been made against digital video cameras when they first appeared on the scene but now they are all prevalent.

Finally, I have to point out that while many people argue that Avatar proves that is costs many many millions to make a realistic 3D experience they are misguided in making this conclusion. Avatar cost the amount it did because:

  1. It was revolutionizing the field and was doing a lot of things new and for the first time. This automatically meant that more money and work had to go into setting things up. However with the industry embracing 3D and all the recent advances in the area, this cost barrier is already breaking down.
  2. A HUGE component of Avatar’s budget was on realistic motion capture technology as well as for all the fancy and mind blowing 3D animation. You have to remember to separate these costs when making conclusions about 3D. Yes, if you want to make a virtual 3D movie that features virtual characters like in Avatar, then you will still need a LOT of money. However, if you’re interested in creating 3D content, and filming live actors/sports/events in 3D then the costs are nothing to be too afraid of.

Kids Love 3D!

This might sound a bit silly, but it is true. Kids adore 3D, even the gimmicky variety! For kids, nothing is more exciting when it comes to watching TV/Movies than to have your favorite characters pop out of the screen while performing their hilarious antics. In the last few years there has been a great number of 3D animated movies that are family and kid oriented. Pixar, Dreamworks and Disney have been leading the way but there have been a number of smaller animation houses with their own franchises such as Ice Age by Blue Sky Studios. As mentioned earlier in this article, it takes no effort to convert a 3D animated movie into a true 3D movie since the conversion is done entirely in software and the entire ‘digital set’ of these movies is natively in virtual 3D.

So if you have kids, you might actually be even more tempted to get 3D for their enjoyment. Additionally, as kids are exposed to good 3D experiences in theaters and in their own homes, they will be more favorable towards it as a new medium as compared to some of us adults. In the long run, they will be the ones going out and buying 3D TVs when they leave home and have their own money to purchase a television set. Of course, that is many years down the line, but it is still a valid point. The point I am trying to make in this article is that 3D will definitely win, it is just a matter of time. There are still plenty of variables when it comes to the time line and how soon it will be widely adopted but I don’t see any way that it won’t be adopted at all in the long run.

2D is pure Cinema, 3D is a Hack. Waaah! Call the WAAHMBULANCE

I don’t understand this ridiculous notion that somehow 2D is classy and that good films in 2D can be considered as classic masterpieces and an art form while anything in 3D is dismissed off as hackery and gimmicky. I think the sooner people realize that 3D is just another medium, the easier it will be for them to accept it’s place in film and tv. It doesn’t have to be the end all and be all. If an artist (director, videographer etc) wants to create something using the 3D medium, he or she will have the opportunity to do so. If not, they can still make their work using conventional 2D as their medium. Neither is better or worse, and both have their pros and cons allowing the content creator to exploit them to their advantage. Also keep in mind that 3D is a new medium and one that will take some getting used to before film makers learn to truly understand its strengths and exploit them to bring their artistic vision to their audience. I can see directors like Tim Burton salivating at the prospect of bringing his warped yet fantastic worlds into true 3D and allowing his audience to experience it just as he envisions it in his head.

Don’t Judge 3D Based on the Viewing of Upconverted (2D->3D) Movies

You have to keep in mind that at the moment many of the Hollywood movies in 3D are actually not shot in 3D. Instead, they convert 2D movies into 3D manually with the help of artists and fancy algorithms that help determine the Z-depth of elements in every scene of a movie. While this technology has come a long way, it still doesn’t work perfectly and gives you a feeling of each object appearing as a flat plane in the 3D film. Watch Avatar before you judge the new 3D, or even better, watch a live sporting event in 3D (should be possible soon at Sony Style Stores and other Electronics stores) before passing 3D off as gimmicky and cheap.  New 3D movies along with live sporting events in 3D will be shot in true 3D, i.e., with a stereoscopic 3D camera without any significant 3D post processing. This enables the best 3D experience and with recent advances by Sony, Panasonic and others in the creation of 3D videocameras, this is how future 3D content will look like.

“3D TVs Cause Flicker and Give me Headaches”

This is a complaint made by some who have experienced recent 3D technology only to find that they are amongst the small percentage of people who are sensitive to low refresh rates (I’m one of them). Currently some of the first generation 3D ready TV displays have a refresh rate of 120 Hz. This means that each eye will see a refresh rate of 60 Hz (half the TV refresh rate) as the frame for the left and right eye are displayed in a sequential manner (frame-sequential) on the display.  So if you’re like me and sensitive to CRT monitors running at a refresh rate of 60 Hz (I need a minimum of 75 Hz to be happy) then you will want to wait for some of the newer displays that will be released later in 2010 that have a refresh rate of 240 Hz. This gives you 120 Hz per eye, high enough to reduce any issues with flicker. In addition regular 24 fps video (most movies) won’t exhibit any judder on these 240 Hz displays using 5:5 pull down.

New 3D technology overcomes previous limitations that caused 3D to fail

Old 3D technology from many years ago never really caught on, and for good reason. Some of the issues it faced are listed below along with how new technology overcomes these previous limitations

  1. Poor color fidelity – Using Anaglyph technology, images were split into to chromatically opposite colors so that by using tinted glasses the viewer was able to view a unique image for each eye thus providing a 3D effect. However, the use of these tinted glasses drastically changed the appearance of colors and in general resulted in a poor 3D experience. With the use of new Polarized or Active Shutter technology, this has been done away with as the image displayed on the screen represents the true color and each eye piece does not distort the image color in any way (apart from lowering the incoming brightness of the image by a small amount).
  2. Nausea and Headaches – These side effects were predominantly due to the analog nature of 3D films many years ago when the films for the left and right eye view were projected simultaneously but were hard to keep in sync with one another. This resulted in an uncomfortable viewing experience, confusing the viewers brain due to the unrealistic and unnatural visual stimulation.  No surprises then that headaches and a feeling of nausea were commonly associated with 3D viewings back then. Current 3D displays however, are digitally synced so no such issues exist and these “3D Symptoms” are thankfully a thing of the past.
  3. Unrealistic 3D – This was primarily caused due to the images for the left and right eye being unnaturally spaced thus causing eye strain and producing an unnatural 3D experience. However, current 3D video capture technology coupled with the projection of both left and right eye images by the same device ensures that such effects are mitigated in new 3D displays.

3D doesn’t seem to be fragmented by format wars

Another important reason why I believe that 3D will ultimately succeed is that all the consumer electronics giants aren’t squabbling over standards and specifications as was the case in the HDDVD and BluRay wars. The specifications for 3D in BluRay have already been decided upon and all manufacturers will be producing 3D displays that will be able to display all 3D content. This will still leave them free to use their own display technology to actually display the video content to the viewer in 3D, thus keeping innovation alive in 3D display technology. It is nice and reassuring to know that any 3D TV you buy will work with a 3D BluRay player or with ESPN or Discovery’s new 3D channel. This is very positive news for the widespread future adoption of 3D.

Say Hello to 3D Porn, Bye bye to dating. So long Humanity!

Yes, I know, I am exaggerating :), but NEVER, EVER underestimate the power of porn to drive technology. We all know the oft repeated story of how Sony’s Betamax lost out to VHS because they refused to embrace porn thus ultimately losing market share and the format wars. Now you can hate 3D all you want, you can say that you would never wear stupid glasses to watch a movie or TV in 3D, but ladies and gentlemen, I guaranty you that 99% of people will have no qualms about putting those same goofy, stupid glasses on if it means that they get to enjoy their weekly/daily/hourly porn fix in 3D rather than regular 2D. And that my friends, is the ultimate nail in the coffin for any arguments against the success of 3D!  Check this link if you don’t believe me: Porn studios lead the stampede into 3D TV

Summary

Wow! Congratulations if you’re still reading this :). I think I’ve listed a pretty comprehensive list of reasons why I believe that 3D will eventually succeed. While many have been quick to write off 3D as just another gimmick, if you read through this article you will realize that there are many things different this time around and the question we should all be asking is WHEN 3D will be widely adopted, not IF.

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