With 2010 now in the history books, it’s time to forward to new HD home theater products. Once again we pieced together inside industry clues and trends to make 12 predictions for the New Year. We begin with a  review of our 2010 outlook.

2010 Recap

We called 2010 the beginning of the home 3D era, and indeed a large number of models were introduced and sold by Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, Vizio, Mitsubishi and Panasonic with screen sizes from 40″ to 82″ and capable of displaying 3D at Full HD resolution.  Our predictions came true about a variety of 3D content and source devices appearing including satellite and cable programs, 3D ready Blu-ray players, video games and laptops.

We missed one mark regarding hand held 3D single user glassesless devices, like the Nintendo 3DS which was delayed until this year.

3D got off to a slower than expected start in 2010 for a number of reasons, the first being the dearth of content from the movie studios. When Blu-ray discs began appearing, many were exclusive deals with TV makers in bundles, creating consumer frustration and providing a reason to hold off buying a new 3D TV. The lack of interoperability for 3D glasses and high pricing did not help the situation. Toward year end and continuing into 2011 TV makers aggressively bundle 3D Blu-ray players, multiple pairs of glasses along with price drops on the TVs.  A new example, the Toshiba 46WX800 46-Inch 3D bundle with 2 pair of 3D glasses and it BDX-300 3D capable Blu-ray player for just $1291.95 with free shipping from Amazon.

Plasma TV sales rebounded due to very aggressive pricing, while LCD inventories grew toward year end as bargain seeking recession conscious consumers waited for better deals. We believe more TV purchasers will be gravitating to the superior 2D and 3D performance/value proposition of plasma in 2011. Onto our predictions.

Lower Cost 3D

1) The breadth and depth of 3D models will spread out from the 2010 top series to the moderately priced middle series products. Expect bigger and smaller 3D screen sizes in 2011 with flat panels above 70″ and as small as 32″.

Major Changes in 3D Shutter Glasses

2) Big changes are coming to the second generation of “active” 3D TVs which use shutter type glasses to provide Full HD images (1920 x 1080) to each eye. The changes are in the way the sync signal will get from the TV to the glasses. Each and every one of the 2010 designs used an infra-red (IR) emitter to transmit the signal to close the appropriate eye’s shutter within the 3D active glasses. Reviewers complained how each TV brand must use its own 3D glasses. For 2011 the industry will do a mass switchover to incompatible radio controlled 3D glasses. These new glasses will be lighter, rechargeable and (we anticipate) lower priced than the current IR models. Why the change?  It was not possible for retailers to do side-by side 3D TV demos, as one TV’s emitter would interfere with another sets glasses. The set makers will solve the problem switching to radio signal sync. Another advantage of radio frequency sync, if someone in the room would move in front of the IR emitter or you would turn your head away you wouldn’t momentarily lose the 3D image. The radio based solution eliminates the issue.

Improved 3D Performance

3) We expect a number of picture improvements in active shutter 3D TVs picture quality with a reduction in crosstalk (ghost images) on the LCD and LED models.

New Classes of 3D TVs

4) In a move to widen the 3D market and to lower the price of, vendors will roll out a new category of 3D flat panel TVs that use a “Patterned Retarder” that permits the use of cheap passive 3D glasses, like the ones you get for free in the movie theaters. We expect many TV makers will offer these sets as entry tier level models. Vizio and LG just announced its first passive 3D models. What they forgot to mention is this technology drops the vertical resolution of all 3D content in half, check out our article (link) for all the details.

Full Resolution Passive 3D

5) Real D’s Full HD passive technology will debut this year in at least one brand of 3D TV. These will be premium HDTVs using inexpensive passive glasses. The technology lies in an extra screen layer called a Z-screen that is a single cell LCD panel (link).


6) Expect a number of performance improvements to go along a new styling trends in 2011. Just before Christmas LG gave the press a preview of its  “Nano” LED backlit LCD panel. The improvement: behind the LCD screen is a sheet of LEDs built into a reflector. The demonstration revealed an incredibly bright LED LCD with very wide viewing angles. We will do further evaluations at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Improvements in LED LCD technology will include better 120Hz and 240Hz signal processing (something we’ve been waiting for), blacker blacks and improved local dimming with the ability to reduce halos around bright objects within a dark background. LED backlighting will become the norm in all but price leader series in most product lines.

New LCD Panel Technology

7) DisplaySearch recently leaked information about a new type of LCD panel by Samsung, with a “new LCD cell structure called PLS, which combines the horizontal and vertical electric fields and has impressive off-axis image quality.”  This may be the big surprise at the CES as Samsung remains quiet as to when its new LCD tech will debut.

Plasma Performance Gets Better

8 ) Plasma HDTVs will get more energy efficient, and produce deeper blacker blacks. Set makers will get a greater number of thinner models in the mix with thinner bezels blurring the form factor distinction of LED.  We predict plasma will maintain its lead in image quality.

2011 The Year of Connected TV Apps

9) Connected TV apps will explode in 2011, giving buyers more viewing choices than ever before. Look for most of the major TV companies to offer exciting new apps in 2011, following Samsung’s 2010 entry into the lead. We expect the connected TVs Apps will redefine the TV viewing experience in 2011.

More Screen, Less Frame

10) There will be a number of styling changes for the New Year. While we don’t know how much thinner TVs can get, the next frontier is the thinner screen frames (called bezels), coming closer to an all picture no frame appearance.

As reported in a previous article (link), Gorilla glass will make its debut at CES offering full glass faces with new styling elements.

Source Boxes

11) Look for an explosion of choices for turning the tens of millions of legacy non-Internet connected displays into “Smart TVs” with new Blu-ray players and freestanding boxes that will compete against the Logitech Revue, Apple TV and Roku.

3D Content

12) Count on a significant increase in Blu-ray movie offerings. Expect 3D video on demand (streaming) as well.  Full time channels will launch on cable, bringing additional sports and newly produced programs in the stereoscopic video format.

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