Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Future of Television is Here!! (to rip you off)

It finally happened. Fancy New York couple Brad and Ashley became the first people in America who were suckered into buying a 3DTV at Best Buy last week. For over $3,000 dollars they got a 50 inch 3DTV, a 3D Blu-ray player and one pair of 3D glasses. The good news for them is that there is zero 3D media available yet so they won't have to worry about swapping that one pair of glasses back and forth.

Am I the only person in the world who understands what a joke this 3DTV push is? What a blatant rip-off it is? People seem so happy that they get to waste thousands of dollars on buying a new TV, a new Bluray player, a new movie library and extra glasses. Can't you see through the lies and see that this is just a huge sham?

First of all, just the fact that everybody acts like this 3D stuff is something new and different drives me nuts. 3D shows up every 20-30 years, they claim it’s going to revolutionize the world before people get sick of it and it goes away. Even the 3D we have now (Avatar 3D as known by most) is absolutely nothing new. It's the same 3D that IMAX has been using since 1986 and there have been over 40 movies released in the format since 1990. 2009 alone saw Coraline, Monsters vs Aliens, Up, X Games 3D, My Bloody Valentine and Final Destination 3D all released in the exact same 3D format as Avatar before Avatar hit, yet people still act like Avatar invented it. The best part is Fox's claim that Avatar can't be released in 3D on DVD or Bluray. Why not? Those other movies were. Oh yeah, because now they want you to buy a new TV, a new Bluray player and a few pairs of glasses and then you'll get your 3D Avatar at home. Riiiiiiiiiiight. I get it.

Second of all, and more importantly, you can already get 3D in your house without buying all this crap they're trying to sell you.

I enjoy a good 3D movie as much as the next guy and probably more so. Having 3D at home is a pretty cool thing to use every once in a while. I know because I have a 3D system in my house so I know how cool it is. The only difference is mine cost less than a hundred dollars, not three thousand and I bought it about 10 years ago. All it is is a little black box that weighs a few ounces. You take the output from your DVD player and plug it into the 3D box, take the output from the 3D box to your TV, plug in your polarized 3D glasses (wireless also available) and there ya go, stereoscopic 3D just like you see in any IMAX theater and just like you saw with Avatar. And unlike these 3DTV setups, there is actually a vast library of movies available. Every IMAX 3D original movie is available, there are a few direct to DVD releases for it and pretty much every single 3D feature film ever released has been formatted for the system. I have about 30 movies myself including Dial M for Murder, Amityville 3D, Friday the 13th 3D, Radar Men from the Moon, House of Wax, Night of the Living Dead, Creature from the Black Lagoon and many more I can't think of off the top of my head. Over the years people have looked at my 3D movie collection and felt the need to tell me that some of these movies weren't even shot for 3D. My reply has always been yeah, that is why they're cool. There's not a million things flying at you, it simply adds a cool depth to everything. Now these same people tell me how cool Avatar was in 3D because things didn't fly at you, it just had a lot of cool depth. Really?

The only drawback to the system I have is that it doesn't work with progressive signals so it's not in HD. But I bought my system for less than 100 dollars and for my money I got the box, 2 pairs of glasses and 4 movies. There are more up to date boxes out these days that work on anything but plasma and projection TVs for $150. You can also get the same system for your PC for $110. These new boxes not only allow you to watch the 3D DVDs but it can also format everything into 3D. You can watch any movie you want in 3D. You can play your Xbox in 3D. Is it going to work perfectly? Probably not. But for 150 bucks, way less on Ebay, is it fun? Absolutely.

So if these kinds of boxes exist, why are we having 3DTV shoved down our throats? Are you telling me that all the geniuses at Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and Toshiba, etc couldn't put their heads together and take the existing set top 3D box technology and figure out how to make it better? How to make it in HD and work with plasmas, projections, whatever? Even if the price of the system jumped from $150 to $1000 wouldn't that still be a much better product and one way easier to sell to the masses?

Instead they're trying to act like this technology doesn't exit. They're trying to convince us that the only way this will work is with a new TV and a new Bluray player? Are you kidding? Ok...a new TV, that's one thing, but why the new Bluray player? What is the purpose of this? Isn't the movie just put on the disc in 3D? What does the Bluray player have to do with it? The main thing you need with stereoscopic 3D is something that will synchronize the flickering of the screen with the flickering inside your glasses and the TV has to be able to handle a 120hz signal. That's it. So shouldn't you just need the 3DTV? Shouldn't just one of these things be able to handle the job that needs to be done? Look at the Playstation 3. The only thing a PS3 needs to be able to play 3D Blurays is a firmware update. That's it. DirecTV will be offering up 3D channels this summer. Do you need a new box to make them work? No. A free software update will turn your existing DirecTV HD box into a 3D DirecTV HD box. Today  Comcast announced that they will be carrying a 3D version of the Masters golf tournament today.  Did they have to go around and change everybody's boxes?  No.  You just need an HD box hooked up with HDMI.  Isn't all this 100% proof that we don't need to buy a whole new set up in order to get 3D? Why isn't just the 3DTV enough?

The absolute greed of these companies and their undying desire to rip every last cent out of our wallets is amazing. HDTV itself still isn't fully accepted and Bluray is still a ways off from being considered mainstream but here we go again with yet another new technology? 3DTVs alone are priced from $2000 to $8000 dollars. The Bluray players are $400 minimum. Extra glasses are $150 each. For the glasses!!! Do you really think 3D glasses costs 150 bucks? Do you think every single pair of glasses in those huge bins outside every Avatar screening cost 150 bucks each? That movie still wouldn't be profitable if they had to spend 150 dollars on every pair of glasses. Are you kidding me? And the glasses are proprietary so you can't buy any brand of glasses to use with your TV, it can only be the glasses made by the manufacturer of the TV.  Nobody has announced how much 3D Blurays will cost but I can only imagine.  They're still trying to charge $30 for regular Blurays so I can easily see 3D Blurays being $50.

Brad and Ashley, I'm sure it's tough to wait to finally get some 3D content on that fancy 3DTV of yours so I'm sure you're both really looking forward to next month's release of the first 3D Blurays. Monsters vs Aliens will be coming out first and soon after that will be Shrek 3D. I hope you two like kids movies....wait.....what? Hold on, I'm getting word of breaking news.....really? Are you sure? Ooooohhhhh, sorry Brad and Ashley, looks you won't be getting any 3D Blurays next month since you bought the Panasonic bundle. These brilliant companies have decided to pull the same BS move they did during the HD-DVD vs Bluray war and make exclusive agreements with the different studios. Dreamworks and Samsung have entered an exclusive agreement where their 3D Blurays are only available with the Samsung bundle for the first year. That's gotta suck, but hey, 3DTVs can at least format any 2D signal into 3D so you're getting something out of it, right? Oh.....wait......hold on........the Panasonic models do NOT do that. Wow. Really? But Sony, Samsung and Toshiba models do. You two really didn't think this through did ya?  You shoulda did some of that browsing.

What really kills me is the practicality of all this. Who wants to sit around with 3D glasses on all the time? Who wants to make their entire family sit around with them on too? Who can even afford to buy enough glasses for their entire family anyway? Imagine how a Superbowl party would be. How many extra glasses would you need? How funny would it be to watch people missing their mouths with their beer bottles or missing the bowl of dip with their chip because these stupid glasses are messing up their vision? And let's not forget that for most of these models you have to sit directly in front of the screen for the 3D effect to work. Who wants to have everybody huddled on top of one another? Some of the models are including a tilt feature that allows you to adjust the direction that the 3D effect goes so that you can sit to one side or the other. But once again, everybody has to sit wherever you tilted it toward. That's another thing, every single one of these 3DTVs has different features. Some do this, some do that, some tilt, some don't, some format 2D to 3D, some don't, some come with two pairs of glasses, some come with one, some come with none, some come with movies, some don't......by time you do enough research to know which 3DTV you want, hologram TVs will be out.

It seems that the most logical and practical 3DTV would be one that doesn't require glasses. No glasses 3D is already a reality in Japan and it will probably arrive in the US within the next couple of years making this generation of 3DTVs an even more illogical waste of time and money.

The fact that 3DTVs already exist does make me laugh though. One reason Hollywood put so much effort into bringing 3D back into theaters is that they felt the movie going experience was getting its ass kicked by the home theater experience. Why go to the theater when you can watch the same movies at home in three months with much better video, better sound and nobody talking through the movie? The idea was that you'd go to the movies because every movie in the theater would be in 3D and you couldn't get that at home. Now TV has fought back and now everything on TV can be in 3D. And why is TV making the move now? Because of the other reason that Hollywood used it. Piracy. The idea is that making everything 3D will make it much harder for people to put their movies and shows on the internet. Like I said, I have a 3D system so I've done quite a lot of online trading to get movies for it and the studios are right. The current "bootleg" tech doesn't make it easy to upload or download these movies because they can't be compressed at all. Unlike most DVDs which get ripped to AVIs, 3D movies can't be compressed without losing the 3D effect so you can only trade full DVDs. The idea is that the file size would get so big, and with more and more ISPs putting bandwidth caps on their customers, file sharing would get a lot harder. That is why they're trying to shove it down our throats and in my view, the only reason.

3D is a lot like health care. Something the majority doesn’t want or doesn't really care about, yet they're going with it anyway. 3D is a fad. It always has been and it always will be. At first people get caught up in how cool it looks, but eventually they get tired of having to wear glasses and tired of crap constantly flying at them. That's just the way it is. People will get sick of this current generation of 3D too and at the end of day all we're going to see is a big pile of 3D equipment in every junkyard along with Betamax players, Laserdisc players, HD-DVD players, a million "As Seen on TV" products and a Big Mouth Billy Bass as the cherry on top.


  1. I've been on a rant ever since this latest iteration of 3(BS)D started making the "greatest new thing" rounds. At first I laughed about it but then that morphed into a Cliff's Notes version similar in ways to your analysis above.

    Hmmmm ... I still have some unscratched Odorama cards - wonder if JW is ready for a scratch 'n sniff comeback? 3D Smell-O-Rama.

    Time for the real Francine Fishpaw. And Cuddles Kovinski.

  2. Last week in NYC I got to see Samsung's 3D televisions. For what it's worth, they look great. I'll never own one and I think the whole idea is stupid, but on a technical level, the 3D works pretty well. I felt like Shrek was coming right for me!