3D TV is here, though perhaps prematurely. With Panasonic and Samsung rushing 3D TVs to market, there’s much for gadgetphiles to love, but most folks are probably better off waiting a year or more for the prices to come down and the kinks to be worked out.
Of the two, the new Panasonic 3D TV has a slight edge in picture quality. Both the Panasonic and the Samsung do a decent job in compensating for the fact that 3D tends to dim the picture. Overall, both certainly deliver an impressive 3D experience, albeit not the equivalent of watching “Avatar” in the theater.
But the Samsung picture has a hint more of cloudiness to it, and it is marred just a bit by ghost images. (These echoes are called “crosstalk.” Current 3D TV technology works via a “shutter effect” where the screen refreshes at a rate of 120 Hz, alternating images intended for the left eye with images intended for the right eye, while the special 3D glasses open and close in sync with this. Crosstalk occurs if the left eye sees any of what was intended for the right eye, or vice versa.) Also, when viewed through slightly tilted glasses-as might occur watching TV lying down-there is a more noticeable dimming with the Samsung than the Panasonic.
So why is the Panasonic picture excellent and the Samsung just very good? Multiple reasons. Perhaps the most important is that the Panasonic 3D TV is a plasma TV, while Samsung so far has only an LCD 3D TV, and it appears plasma is slightly the better format for conveying 3D. The Panasonic also includes blur-reduction circuitry, and makes use of “infinite black” technology to improve black-level performance.
The glasses themselves are not particularly comfortable for either television (and not much to look at, if aesthetics are a factor for you). The Panasonic glasses are a bit larger and heavier and therefore will probably be more bothersome to wear for long periods. On the other hand, they come with three different nose bridges and a neck strap to make them adjustable, whereas the Samsung glasses are not adjustable. Panasonic includes one pair of glasses with the TV; additional pairs are a la carte; Samsung does not include any glasses in the purchase price of the TV.
Overall, a slight edge to Panasonic.
In time, though, both (and additional brands) will be better. The technology continues to improve, and even the slight problem Samsung has with crosstalk is likely to be absent from future models. There is work being done already on 3D technology that will not require wearing the clunky glasses, so that too may be just around the corner. And of course prices are always highest when a new gadget first hits the market.
If you have the money, and you absolutely must have the latest and greatest of everything, you’ll like the Samsung, and like the Panasonic a bit more. But for most people, it’s probably better to let the prices settle, and wait for the glasses-free, even more awesome versions of 3D that will be available with later models.
Richard Baguley, “The Best 3DTV: Samsung UN55C7000 vs Panasonic TC-P50VT20.” Gizmodo.
James K. Willcox and Claudio Ciacci, “3D TV shoot-out: Samsung’s LCD vs. Panasonic’s plasma.” Consumer Reports.
“Introducing Panasonic’s Full HD 3D Home Theater System.” Panasonic.
“UN55C7000 55″ Class (54.6 inch diagonal) 1080p 3D LED HDTV- NEW.” Samsung.