(June 25, 2010) This week Mitsubishi, Monster and Vizio introduced to the New York area press their final 2010 product releases.  In Part 1 we cover Monster’s new 3D glasses, we’ll follow with articles on Vizio’s and Mitsubishi’s new TVs.

Monster announced its entry in the “Universal” 3D eyewear market. It’s called Monster Vision Max 3D. Their new glasses employ significant differences from the Sony, Panasonic, Samsung and Mitsubishi designed active shutter eyewear.  All the TV manufacturers to date use infra-red pulses to sync up the 3D TVs frame sequence to their respective 3D eyewear.  The Monster active glasses system is the first to use radio frequency for synchronizing to a 3D TV’s sequential left-right frames. By doing so, Monsters 3D glasses system can eliminate IR interference problems encountered  when there is more than one 3D display in the same room, a major obstacle  for dealer showroom demos. They also eliminate the possibility of the glasses losing sync due to a person walking in front of the TV’s IR emitter or from interference with room lighting.

The Monster Vision Max 3D (MVM3D) glasses employ Bit Cauldron’s “Heartbeat” technology. The system’s transmitter converts the TVs infra-red 3D sync pulses into a radio signal. The Monster transmitter uses the 2.4 GHz radio frequency equipped with a ZigBee chip. Placing it directly in front of a 3D TV will block the sets built-in infra-red emitter. Moving it away from the 3D TV allows the use of the set maker’s 3D eyewear in addition to the MVM3D glasses.

The glasses have two modes Bit Cauldron calls “date” and “marry”. In the “date” mode the glasses will automatically sync to the nearest RF transmitter. In the “marry” mode it will only sync to a specific transmitter signal. In “date” mode you can take Monster glasses and transmitter from your home and bring them over to a friend’s 3D TV, and your glasses will automatically sync.

If dealers equip their demo 3D TVs with Monster transmitters and place the associated glasses in the “marry” mode, they will automatically sync to only the designated 3D TV and will be immune to the interference caused by the RF sync signals emanating  from other demo 3D TVs equipped with Monster system.  By marrying each pair of glasses to a specific 3D TV in the showroom, dealers will be able to demonstrate a number of adjacent 3D TVs. OEM 3D glasses supplied by the set makers can’t be used for multi TV side by side demos, as each 3D TV floods the room with its own infra-red signals, often preventing proper sync resulting in a poor viewing experience. Currently, the only way to view a 3D demo in a room with two or more adjacent 3D TVs is to shut off the other 3D TVs in the room or block the IR emitters of all but one TV at a time.

On the technical side, the Bit Caldron design uses shutters made from linear polarized material. Monster claims it uses a neutral tint, as opposed to slightly green tint on the Samsung and Mitsubishi branded glasses or yellow, like the Sony and Panasonic glasses. This will result in a skewing of color if you have your 3D TV adjusted to its factory glasses, i.e. images will be too blue when viewing a Panasonic 3D through the MVM3D glasses. If Monster 3D glasses are not mixed with another brand, one may be able to compensate for the skewed color via the TVs user controls.

How detrimental is skewed color to the overall viewing experience?  We plan color tests of the Monster glasses.  A spokesman said they will ship us a review sample next month.

Because of the color issue, we feel the term “Universal” can really only apply to proper 3D synchronization, as every brand of glasses is tinted with a different color and intensity (except Mitsubishi and Samsung branded eyewear which appears to be chromatically identical).

Monster had a new Sony 3D TV on hand. Sony’s factory supplied glasses use other polarization for its active shutter lenses, which cause color shifts and very significant crosstalk issues with a slight head tilt, when viewing 3D content (link). Switching to the linear polarized MVM3D glasses, the color shift and crosstalk did not occur as I tilted my head to the side; however the image became progressively darker as the tilt increased.

One additional note. Using the Monster system, each TV must have its own sync transmitter, and therefore its own timed sync pulse. We still know of no way one can have two or more 3D TVs in the same room allowing a viewer to watch different 3D content on each TV at the same time with a single pair of glasses. Consumers and dealers will need to have Monster transmitter and a glasses paired to each 3D TV in the room.

Physically the glasses are quite large, with only a single nose piece offered. Woman and small children as well as persons with small noses may have issues keeping the glasses from sliding off. A booth spokesman said Monster plans other styles and versions for smaller heads in the future.

The MVM3D glasses use a built-in rechargeable lithium polymer battery that recharges via a miniature USB jack. Battery life between charges is 80 hours, according to Mentz.

The Monster Vision Max 3D system consists of one pair of Monster 3D glasses and the IR to RF transmitter will ship in September 2010 at a retail price of $249.95 per set. Additional Monster Vision Max 3D Eyeglasses will carry a retail price of $169.95, $30 less expensive than Samsung’s rechargeable glasses (excluding $80 additional for one RF transmitter).

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