LG released results of a recent survey it conducted which showed 4 out of 5 consumers preferred viewing 3D content on a passive 3DTV over active shutter models. Specifically, LG Film Pattern Retarder (FPR) equipped HDTV and passive 3D glasses over active shutter model TVs and glasses from Samsung and Sony. LG boasted about the results in advertisement (above) which appeared last week in USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Morpace conducted the study for LG. Its conclusions: 78 percent of respondents preferred LG Cinema 3D for the immersive 3D experience, 77 percent preferred LG for the 3D effect, 77 percent rated LGs overall picture quality and 78 percent choose LG’s 3D passive glasses over the two competitors.

HD Guru found the performance preferences in contradiction with our own active-versus-passive experiences. We investigated LG’s study further to understand and report the contradictions. To do so, HD Guru interviewed by phone Morpace’s Kirk Baetens who conducted the survey. Here are the details and our own conclusions.

The comparison was performed in five markets with hundreds of viewers. The FPR LG was a 47LW5600, a 47″ 120 Hz LED LCD which we reviewed in May (link). The Sony chosen was a KDL-46EX723 which is Sony’s 120 Hz entry level 46″ 3D-capable HDTV, sold by Best Buy (as a derivative of its Sony’s main KDL-46EX720 ). Sony’s TDGB100/B active 3D eyewear was used. The Samsung was a 46″ 3D-capable UN46D6420 (a Best Buy derivative of the Samsung UN46D6400) with their entry level and heaviest SSG-3100GB active 3D glasses.

Baetens explained there were two test rooms. At one end of the first room was the LG TV on a table stand 30-inches high. while The Sony TV was on the other end of the room. This height allowed the center of the TVs’ screen to be at eye level when seated. Room two had a similar layout using the Samsung in place of the Sony. All observations were made in the seated position.

The front of each screen was 8 feet from a row of four chairs making the screen to eye distance about 108-inches. According to our HDTV viewing distance chart (link) the optimum viewing distance for a 1080p HDTV 46-inch and 47″ display is 72.16-inches and 73.73 inches respectively. Sitting three feet further away, as the test was conducted, means viewers could not resolve all of the detail within the 1080p full HD image on the Sony and Samsung. This also means the one-half resolution per eye (540 line, link) with 3D content of the LG display was less noticeable. Given the uniformed and untrained eyes of the participants coupled with the farther than optimum viewing distance, we now better understand its results for 3D effect and overall picture quality.

If LG chose the optimum viewing distance for 47-inch screen sizes and positioned the viewers above (as would be case if people were standing in the room while viewing) or below the center (if the panel were mounted higher as many households do when the wall mount a flat panel TV) we believe the poor off-axis characteristics of FPR versus active shutter 3D systems would have greatly changed the survey results.

The glasses issue is one that is highly dependent upon the models chosen. Passive glasses as used with all FPR are still the lightest and cheapest available. However, potential 3D TV purchasers should not be mislead into thinking that because the same glasses as most theater presentations, the experience will be the same.

The movie theaters present full resolution 3D with excellent vertical and good horizontal viewing angles in full resolution. The FPR in LG (and 2011 Toshiba and Vizio models) limits the per-eye vertical resolution to one-half (link) of what one might see in a movie theater and one-half of the capabilities of active home systems. This is scientific fact that cannot be disputed by any company.

Not All 3D Glasses Are Created Equal

All passive 3D glasses are light because they are simply a frame with plastic, circular polarized lenses. Active glasses contain LCD shutters for each eye. They require a power source, a drive circuit, and sync circuit for the LCDs. The cheapest glasses are the heaviest and weigh the most. However, the weight goes down in the rechargeable versions with the Samsung SSG-3700CR coming in at just 1.005 ounces. Had Morpace used these instead of the model SSG-3100B at 1.6 ounces, we believe the results would have been different.

Not All Active 3D TVs Are Created Equal

In our tests, plasma 3D TVs/matching active 3D glasses have the lowest crosstalk of any 3D HDTVs tested. It is followed by 240 Hz LED LCD. The lowest performing 3D TV/active glasses are  120 Hz LED LCD. These, unfortunately,  are the ones LG used to compare 3D performance. We believe, based on our observations, the survey results would have been significantly different if LG choose to compare its FPR 3D TV against one of these sets. Pricewise there almost the same as a Panasonic 3D plasma. For example the survey LG model 47LW5600 sells on Amazon for $1057.46 while the Panasonic 46″ 3D plasma TC-P46ST30 sells on Amazon for  $1102.65. Based on our tests of both model series, the Panasonic is a better performer with 3D and 2D sources.

It’s All in the Numbers

According to the latest sales numbers by CE research firm NPD, active 3D is by far outselling passive with Samsung Active 3D alone capturing over 60 percent market share during the last 12 weeks. As more FPR passive models enter the market place in the next few weeks, thanks to new models from Vizio and Toshiba (in addition to the LGs) we expect the share numbers to change. The question is, how much?


As the 3D format war goes on, we will learn if consumers will migrate to the FPR sets with its lower vertical resolution and limited viewing angles or continue to support active 3D. HD Guru will continue to update when the next shots are fired.


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