15
Sep/10
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3D Monitor from ASUS

ASUS’ VG236H was quietly announced back at CeBIT, but the 23-inch 3D monitor is just now getting around to making itself known to worldwide retailers. On sale now for a penny under $500 (which includes the complete $180 NVIDIA 3D Vision kit), this 1080p display has also managed to hit the test bench over at Hot Hardware. Critics over there found that it was amongst the nicest looking TN (boo) panels out there, and that the third dimension had no issue popping out on command. In fact, they had little to complain about, noting that it “consistently hit the mark in their testing [while producing] a fantastic image, whether it be 2D, 3D, work or play.” Granted, it’s not like you’ve too many options when it comes to snagging a 3D LCD, but at least we’re hearing this particular one is worth a look (or three).

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21
Dec/09
0

“world’s thinnest” 42-inch LCD panel

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LG Display Unveils World’s Thinnest LCD TV Panel Measuring 2.6mm

Breaking the 3mm barrier in large LCD TV panels

A leading innovator of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) technology, announced today that it has developed the world’s thinnest LCD TV panel measuring 2.6mm.

The development of extremely slim LCD panel was possible by applying the company’s accumulated “slimming” technologies including the use of an ultra-slim, edge-lit LED backlight system and proprietary optical film technology.

The 42-inch panel weighs less than 4 kilograms – making it ideal for wall mounted TVs. Moreover, the new product offers 120Hz refresh rate technology with full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution for clear and sharp image.

In May, LG Display broke the record by unveiling 42- and 47 inch LCD TV panels measuring 5.9mm – the world’s thinnest panels at the time. By nearly halving its record in just seven months, the company maintains its position as the technology leader in ultra-slim LCD panels.

Dr. In Jae Chung, LG Display’s CTO and Executive Vice President noted, “With the development of the world’s thinnest LED LCD TV panel that is only 2.6mm thick, LG Display has once again demonstrated its technical prowess to satisfy customer demand for high resolution and slim design products. We will continue to spur R&D activities in order to provide our customers and the market with the differentiated products that they desire.”

LG Display will showcase the product and its newest cutting-edge display technologies in a private room at the Bellagio Hotel during the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2010 in Las Vegas.

14
Dec/09
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LCD price fixing fines so far reaches $860 million, shame CONSUMER gets NOTHING

departmentofjusticelogoIt’s not every day we get to cite an official US Department of Justice news release, so it’s with a certain glee that we can announce the US taxpayer was last week enriched by another $220 million courtesy of the not-so-fine folks who swindled him out of that money in the first place. Joining the ignominious ranks of LG, Sharp, Hitachi and Chungwa Picture Tube, Taiwanese manufacturer Chi Mei is refunding the US state for the pecuniary impact of its collusive practices, which were primarily related to keeping prices artificially high and profits proportionately inflated. US companies directly affected by these ignoble activities include HP, Dell and Apple, but don’t you worry, AT&T has already started the inter-corporation scuffle, with Nokia piling on for good measure. Man, it almost seems like crime doesn’t pay

3
Dec/09
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LG mass production of LCD monitors with Full HD 3D capability

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LG Display Co., Ltd, a leading innovator of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) technology, announced the world’s first commercial launch of 3D LCD panel boasting full HD resolution.

The new product is a 23-inch 3D monitor LCD panel for use with shutter glasses that delivers full HD resolution. It offers picture quality that is almost twice as crisp as HD 3D displays currently available in the market.

The panel adopts the company’s proprietary technologies such as “high performance 3D exclusive controller” capable of processing more than twice as much image data as other HD 3D LCDs and “copper bus line” to improve on the resolution and picture quality. In addition, the panel is able to reproduce both 2D and 3D images, meaning that users can switch back and forth from 2D and 3D modes.

Although full HD 3D images have been developed for contents such as video games, movies and animations, 3D display products with full HD resolution were unavailable in the market. The commercial launch of LG Display’s full HD 3D LCD panel is expected to help to boost development of high resolution 3D contents while allowing users to view true-to-life 3D images.

Mr. Davis Lee, LG Display’s Vice President and head of IT marketing department, noted “LG Display has made a major breakthrough in the display industry race to deliver the depth and dynamic nature of 3D images. LG Display will continue with efforts to keep pace with the fast growing 3D market with leading 3D technology and products in order to create new value for customers.”

The 3D display market is expected to grow at rapid pace as the industry players are shifting their focus from two- dimensional to three-dimensional technologies. The Korea Communications Commission recently announced plans to start a trial service for the world’s first full HD 3D terrestrial broadcasting from the second half of 2010. A launch of trial services for 3D satellite broadcasts had been also announced earlier in Japan and the UK

2
Dec/09
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ViewSonic 23 & 26 inch IPS LCD Monitors

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ViewSonic’s last round of LCDs were nothing short of unforgettable, but these two might actually grab (and retain) your attention if you consider yourself a “professional.” The 23-inch VP2365wb and 26-inch VP2655wb both fall into the firm’s VP series of 1080p pro LCDs, and the both of ‘em are blessed with IPS panels and 4-port USB hubs. You’ll also find pivoting stands on the pair, and while the 23-incher gets a 1,920 x 1,080 native resolution, the big boy steps it up to 1,920 x 1,200 and offers a 118 percent NTSC wide color gamut for those discerning retinas of yours. Interested? The duo is available now if you look in the right places, and while the VP2365wb will cost you just $399, the larger sibling will ding you for $1,299.

20
Nov/09
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HDTVs energy efficiency improvements by 2011

That new HDTV of yours? It may be thin and light and lovely, but it ain’t saving you any money. The state of California knows this and has created new energy efficiency standards applying to any sets sold after January of 2011. The initial regs state a maximum of 1 watt of consumption when “off” and, when on, a maximum of .2 watts per inch of screen area plus an arbitrary 32 watts. Two years later, in 2013, things get even tougher, that formula dropping to .12 per inch with a 25 watt base modifier. There are plenty of TVs that already meet the 2013 criteria, most of them smallish LCDs, so it’s not an impossible dream. The bad news? An inability to sell non-compliant sets in CA could result in lost tax revenue. The good news? Reduced energy bills and a smaller hit to our fragile environment. The really good news? Any set greater than 58-inches is exempt, so go big, broheim.

2
Nov/09
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HDI’s laser-driven 3D HDTV

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HDI Ltd. Begins Manufacturing of High-Definition Laser-Driven 2D/3D Televisions
Low-Cost, Extremely Energy Efficient 100-inch Diagonal Displays Fast-Tracked for 2010

October 28, 2009 – Los Gatos, CA – HDI Ltd. announces it has entered into a manufacturing agreement to mass produce their proprietary 100-inch diagonal Laser-Driven 2D/3D Switchable Dynamic Video Projection Televisions. HDI Ltd.’s 2D/3D switchable system delivers a stunningly superior 2D image, with a 50% greater resolution than today’s digital cinemas, and derives its greater-than-high definition stereoscopic 1920 x 1080p “3D” image quality from two RGB laser-illuminated Liquid Crystal on Silcon (LCOS) micro display imagers. At full 1080p HD, the HDI Ltd. screen refreshes at 360 fields per-second on each eye, the fastest refresh rate on any mass produced television or projector.

HDI Ltd. has completely eliminated the adverse effects, such as migraines, dizziness, nausea, and motion sickness, long associated with inferior and expensive shutter glasses and substandard 3D technology. HDI Ltd. delivers the most immersive, comfortable, and natural 3D viewing experience in the world with low-cost and light-weight proprietary polarized glasses. Technology journalist Richard Hart called HDI Ltd.’s picture quality, “the smoothest yet, and smoothness means no headaches,” and Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers, stated, “Without a doubt, the best demonstration of 3D technology I have ever seen.”

In addition, HDI Ltd. displays draw 80% less power than existing 2D plasma displays of the same size, offer a 95% reduction in manufacturing pollution, and a 100% reduction in harmful chemicals and radioactive components currently used in existing televisions. At 10-inches thick, HDI’s 100-inch diagonal display weighs 75% less than equivalent Plasma and LCD displays, and is anticipated to have a street price potentially 60% less than current 2D flatscreen Plasma and LCD displays.

HDI’s September 2009 announcement of their potential new standard for switchable 2D/3D television technology came on the same day several major manufactures announced plans to release new energy-guzzling plasma televisions with 3D capabilities via shutter glasses, all of which featured price tags as much as 100% or more than current 2D televisions.

HDI Ltd. quickly caught the interest of the consumer electronics industry and, as reported on Variety.com, top execs, engineers and S3D experts from six of the eight leading television manufactures recently crowded together into HDI Ltd.’s tiny Los Gatos lab to see their prototype 100-inch, rear-projection S3D television.
David Cohen of Variety.com reported, “HDI’s approach shows the promise of laser-driven 3D TV could be a reality surprisingly soon,” and Sean Portnoy of ZDNet said, “We could be looking at a Holy Grail of sorts for the next generation of television.”

According to co-founder Ingemar Jansson, “The first production-run of 100-inch HDI Ltd. 2D/3D switchable displays should quickly put product into a multitude of B2B and public demonstration venues.” He’s mum as to when leading American retailers will be able to put units into homes, but stresses that the simplistic and inexpensive design and manufacturing techniques required to produce HDI Ltd. televisions, “will have product in the marketplace faster than one would expect,” and adds, “either with the HDI logo or that of another leading manufacturer.”

Offering a thought on the fact that California appears poised to be the first state to ban power-guzzling big-screen TVs, Jansson states, “In light of the energy efficient products emerging from companies such as Apple, the lobbying efforts of the Consumer Electronics Association strikes me as almost criminal in promoting antiquated technologies that the ‘Grid,’ and the planet, simply cannot sustain.”
26
Oct/09
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The latest 3D technology is coming home

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Now wait one second before you start on the whole “I’m not wearing any stupid looking glasses,” because no matter what you say, there are more people paying extra to go 3D movies than ever and the reason is simple; it’s because this isn’t like the crappy 3D you saw during the Super Bowl last year — or that our parents grew up with. No, the 3D that Sony, Panasonic, and others are promising next year is like nothing you’ve seen. We’ve come a long way since the old anaglyph red and blue glasses that come in cereal boxes, so before you knock the new technology before it’s even out, click through and read about the technologies that might bring us a real 3D revolution.

3D, the basics

We have two eyes for a reason and while we’ve enjoyed stereo sound since-like-forever, stereoscopic images haven’t quite arrived. At its core, 3D is as simple as using two cameras to capture the data that our eyes would, but it’s the display part that’s proven tricky. Ultimately, the technology has to find a way to present each eye with a different variation of an image, at that point our eyes and brain do the rest.

Circular polarized or active LCD shutter glasses

The one thing that hasn’t changed about 3D is the need for glasses — if you’re holding out for 3D on a big screen without glasses, you’re going to let this generation of 3D pass you by. The technology in the glasses varies by a lot and the main two types these days are circular polarized and active LCD shutter. Both serve the same purpose, to ensure each eye sees a different image, but in much different ways.

Circular polarized glasses are easily the most common used in 3D cinema today. If you’ve been to a 3D presentation of a Pixar movie, or maybe to Disney World and used what look like cheap sunglasses, you’ve probably tried the technology. Without going into too much detail, each lens is set to filter out different light, so for example in a polarized system like RealD’s, there can either be two projectors with different polarizing filters in front of each (pictured below) or a special ZScreen which can alternate the clockwise and counterclockwise polarization for each frame. In either case, the right and left frame alternate at about 144 times per second so that each of 24 frames per second of a movie is displayed 3 times per eye.
One of the problems with circular polarized 3D is that a special silver screen is required and some argue it can negatively affect the color accuracy. But what’s worse is that most of us don’t have a projector at home and so far only a few HDTVs like the ridiculously expensive JVC GD-463D10 LCD TV at $9,200 can pull off the same polarization trickery.

LCD shutter glasses

So in comes the LCD shutter glasses — the technology itself has actually been around for some time, in fact there were eight Sega Master Systems games that worked with shutter glasses dating back to the 80’s. But the technology was limited by the display technology of that era which could only show 480i at 30 frames per second, which worked out to about 15 FPS per eye in 3D — so yeah, the flickering could make you sick.

Basically the way shutter glasses work is each lens can be blacked out very very quickly to synchronize with a frame displayed on the HDTV. This way a different 1920 x 1080 progressive image can be shown to each eye.
An IR emitter connected to the TV sends signals to the glasses to keep ‘em in sync. In larger demos, multiple emitters are mounted throughout the venue to ensure all the glasses get the signal. This is obviously less than ideal for a large movie theater, but shouldn’t be a problem at home.
The other reason shutter glasses make sense at home is because they don’t limit the viewing angles of the display — not to mention the glasses are more expensive and someone would likely steal them from a theater. But besides these advantages, proponents argue that the colors are more accurate, there’s less ghosting and smearing, and it is argued that the contrast is greater between the left and right eyes. So, you add all these reasons together and the technology should provide the most realistic and reliable 3D technology ever unleashed on consumers — at home or anywhere else.

It’s not all good though, besides the cost of the glasses and the added emitter in the TV, some say that there is added flickering, and with the shutters closing in front of your eyes, the image is dimmed a bit. Both Sony and Panasonic claim these are no longer issues in thanks to the super fast refresh rates and brightness available on the latest HDTVs.

Sony, Samsung, Mitsubishi and Panasonic

Yes, you read that right, all four of these tech giants are pushing the same home 3D display technology. While Samsung and Mitsubishi have been demoing its DLP HDTVs with shutter glasses for-like-ever, both Sony and Panasonic have been showing LCD and Plasma (respectively) HDTVs that can display 3D HD at CES, CEDIA and other shows. In fact Sony and Panasonic promise to release the first consumer 3D capable displays next year. That last part is an important one, so listen up: both will offer HDTVs next year that will work just like any other HDTV today, but will also work with 3D. So not only are the HDTVs going to be fully backwards compatible, but supposedly the new sets won’t cost much more than a normal HDTV. In fact Panasonic believes that in the next few years most of its HDTVs will be 3D ready.
But why can’t my current HDTV do 3D?

We know what you’re thinking, you just bought a new HDTV and you want to know why it can’t handle 3D. Even if it was possible to add an IR emitter to keep the shutter glasses in sync, the experience at 30 FPS per eye wouldn’t be as enjoyable. And just like when the first 1080p HDTVs hit the shelves without the ability to actually accept 1080p input, the current crop of 120hz HDTVs can’t actually display 120 frames per second — only show each frame of a 60 fps signal, twice.

3D sources

Of course, 3D-capable displays don’t do much without 3D content, and the good news is that most of the infrastructure needed for 3D in the home is already here thanks to HD. With the new 1.4 spec, HDMI has been updated to accomdate 3D and the first source is almost guaranteed to be Blu-ray. In fact as we speak the BDA is working on standardizing the storage of 3D movies on a Blu-ray Disc. It actually isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds, because what is essentially needed is to up the spec from 1080p at 30 FPS to 1080p at 120 FPS. In fact a 50GB Blu-ray Disc has more than ample capacity to handle a 3D HD movie thanks to the wonders of video compression where only the difference of each frame is stored. So 3D movies only require about 50 percent more space, and the one thing about the new 3D Blu-ray standard that has been determined, is that every 3D Blu-ray Disc will include a 2D version of the movie.

This part might surprise you, but there have already been 3D broadcasts of major sporting events. Using RealD’s circular polarized technology, ESPN broadcasts 3D presentations of major sporting events to theaters around the country. The most recent was the USC vs Ohio State game on September 12th, but other events like the National Championship game last year, and the Olympics before it, were beamed to theaters in 3D. And let us tell you, if you haven’t seen your favorite sport in 3D, you’re really missing something. In fact we wouldn’t be surprised if the real killer application for 3D in the home was sports. Sure movies will be the first to be delivered thanks to the slow evolution of broadcast technology, but we still have our hopes that ESPN 3D will be next. But while we wait for CableLabs and the SCTE to hammer out the details of a 3D delivery standard, satellite subscribers in the UK appear to be on track to get a 3D channel next year.
The other 3D content that is coming eventually is 3D gaming. Sony was showing 3D games at IFA this year and there have been a number of rumors that real 3D gaming is coming to the Xbox 360. The only thing we really know for sure at this point is that Avatar will be one of the first 3D games, although no word on what technology will be used.

But not everyone can see 3D

When we say that 3D isn’t for everyone, we mean it. In fact it is estimated that 4 percent of us are actually physically incapable of seeing 3D no matter what the display technology. And even worse, according to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, “Research has shown that up to 56 percent of those 18 to 38 years of age have one or more problems with binocular vision and therefore could have difficulty seeing 3D.” So if you are one of these affected, it might be time to see an opthamologist and get screened for amblyopia. And if you happen to be blind in one eye you can still watch 3D, but it’ll just look normal to you — assuming of course you have the glasses on.

Where we go from here

One thing we weren’t able to learn in our quest for 3D knowledge was how compatible these different technologies are. Essentially we assume that the functional compatibility between the two main 3D display technologies described above are like the differences between LCD and Plasma — in other words, they both connect to the same HD set-top-box and Blu-ray player — but until the BDA announces the final details of the 3D specification there isn’t really any way to know for sure. But it seems that if Blu-ray was compatible with both circular polarized and LCD shutter glasses, then certainly whatever broadcast standard or game console announced down the road would also work with both.

Conclusion

Like it or not, 3D is coming and just like HD before it, there will be plenty of technology pundits predicting its demise. The problem right now is very few have had the chance to check out the technology and if you have been lucky enough to see it, it is hard to convey how cool it is to others. On top of this, 3D has a long road ahead because most people think they have seen it because they’ve tried the anaglyph glasses during a Super Bowl Commercial. The other big hurdle is the whole stupid looking glasses argument — which doesn’t make that much sense since you’ll be wearing them in the privacy of your own home. Now we know that the same technology lovers who read Engadget would never hate on any new technology without experiencing it first hand, but tell your friends and family that something new is coming, and no it isn’t like anything else they’ve seen.

25
Sep/09
0

JVC Picsio GC-FM1 video camera

jvcpicsiocamerahd

Sure, JVC’s new Picsio GC-FM1 pocket video camera has the specs to complete with the likes of Flip Video’s Ultra HD and other similar offerings (1080p video, 8-megapixel stills, a 2-inch LCD, and HDMI out), but it also has a little something extra, something rarely seen in the world of anthropomorphized products since they heyday of the California Raisins: showmanship. Still no word on a North American appearance just yet, unfortunately but it looks like the camera will run around ¥20,000 (or about $220) when it hits Japan by the end of the month. In the meantime, we’re sure the video after the break will more than tide you over.

15
Sep/09
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3D Home Judgments on the Technology

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With the the big 3D push coming in 2010, I planted my eyes on three types of 3D technologies displayed at CEDIA (home theater expo) that you may have in your next TV…and passed some judgments without pulling any punches.

It should be noted, all designs require glasses.

Panasonic’s 3D Plasma Concept
The Tech: Plasma with Active Shutter (alternating left eye, right eye progressive frames)

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As a baseline reference to get our bearings, I took yet another look at Panasonic’s 103-inch plasma display that we’ve seen twice before. My original impressions stand. It’s decent—and definitely the best technology of the three that we saw at CEDIA. Why? There’s virtually no flicker in the image because of plasma’s instantaneous response times/ability to push legitimate high frame rates. Plus, it probably helps that we’re talking about a 103-inch display (that has its own trailer). The bigger a 3D display, the better the illusion. But glasses aside, it’s not what I’d deem a perfect experience. You see ghosting around some objects. And…OK, I still can’t ignore the damned glasses. It creates an inherent distance from the image inducing an unintentionally ephemeral viewing experience.

Sony’s LCD Concept
The Tech: 240Hz LCD with Active Shutter (alternating left eye, right eye progressive frames)

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Even Panasonic will tell you that 240Hz is the baseline speed needed for an LCD to pull off 3D. But you know what? 240Hz isn’t enough. Watching Pixar’s Up, the color and sharpness are both great, but there’s an absurd level of flicker that’s nominally better than on old timey crank projector. And on this normal-sized LCD, it’s incredibly obvious when 3D objects break the illusion by reaching the TV’s frame. Granted, we’re not talking about a final product here, but the specs seem pretty much identical to what consumers can expect to see in the high-end display market next year.

JVC’s GD-463D10 LCD
The Tech: Polarized filter (two images are interlaced on the screen, each eye sees half the data, glasses don’t need power)

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Of the three technologies here, JVC’s is the only final product that’s actually available now. And it costs $9,153. It’s also easily the worst of the three—completely unwatchable, in fact. The interlaced 3D means that the resolution takes a huge hit. But it’s worse than just a 1080i picture. Your brain can almost make out these lines. I could say more about the tech, but I honestly couldn’t stand to look at the screen for more than 10 seconds at once. Oh, and the kicker? For nine thousand bucks, you still only get two pairs of the cheap, polarized glasses. Sorry kids, Mommy and Daddy are watching TV tonight.

There’s no doubt that some home theater enthusiasts will go out and plop down $5k or more on a commercially available 3D display when they enter the TV lines of major manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic in 2010. But I’m hoping, really hoping, that the public can resist the gimmick until the technology is perfected. To me, that means when we don’t need to deal with these silly glasses at all. But for whatever it’s worth, plasma is definitely looking like the clear front runner in execution.