Saturday, January 7, 2017

LG Electronics to Ditch 3D TV's?


I'm not going to say the end is nigh like so many others are saying.  Maybe it's the fact that I'd like to be optimistic about at least one thing in my life at the moment, but I would like to think that this weeks revelation from the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 as more of a setback than it is a gut wrenching blow to fans of the 3D format.  I need to; I don't have a whole lot of hope left in my life.  And yet, here we are, with the sad realization that LG Electronics have unveiled their entire 2017 TV lineup, and not one of them supports 3D.  Last year Samsung was the latest major company to drop the format from their TV's.  This year it's LG.  That leaves only Sony and Panasonic in the 3DTV business.  Now, to be certain, I do believe that 3D wasn't the selling point it the electronic giants wanted it to be.  They invested heavily in the format and it didn't move the TV's they wanted to.  I still believe that TV's are a long term investment for many people, and that formats don't catch on until years after the fact.

Widescreen TV's took years to catch on.  So did high definition.  Basically, trends in TV don't take hold until they've been out for awhile.  TV manufacturer's would love to get people to upgrade their sets for the next big thing, but people just don't buy them that way.  This year at CES there is a lot of talk that within a few years 4K and HDR will account for 33% of the TV's in peoples homes.  These are similar numbers they were discussing for 3D, I want to point out?  Will it hit that number?  Eventually, but not right away.  The only way 4K will grab hold is if the manufacturer's adapt the format and stick with it.  Who knows if they'll invest it in long term, but one thing that is obvious is that the cost to add 3D to any of these TV's would be incremental at best, so why don't they just make it another feature?  You do have millions of people out there who love 3D.  3D fans are some of the most dedicated film enthusiasts I've ever seen.

They love the format so much, that they'll buy "The Peanuts Movie" on BluRay 3D just...because.  And - with so many TV manufacture's getting out of the 3D business - this would have given LG a competitive advantage with those people.  If anything, I expect this news to bring a spike in sales for the 2016 models, as people who are interested in the format will want to get a 3D TV before they no longer have this option.  What is REALLY ironic about this is that there were tons of UltraHD BluRay players unveiled at the show, and the vast majority of them support 3D playback (both in disk and streaming format)!  Does this mean the BluRay player manufacturer's know something that the TV manufacturer's don't?  Seems to be.  Also, if 3D were really THAT unprofitable, wouldn't studios largely stop releasing their movies in BluRay 3D?!  Alright, so "Ben-Hur" got the shaft recently and Disney has been inconsistent recently, but Warner Bros., Paramount, Fox, and even Twilight Time seem perfectly happy with the format.

When I started this blog I named it "Save BluRay 3D" because Disney's lack of support signaled a dangerous direction for the format.  Yet the format appears to be fine and healthy for the most part; it's the TV aspect that's become a problem.  Because we keep getting more and more TV's without 3D features even though the cost to have those features would be minimal.  For that matter, companies like Samsung, Phillips, and KDX (a Chinese manufacturer), are still developing glasses free 3D TV's.  Maybe that's where they believe the pull will be for the format in the future, but until that future comes it helps to keep the format alive and breathing.  To kill it for a few years and then come out with this glasses free option does the manufacturer's no favors, as you have to sell the format to people all over again.  Only this time that will be a much tougher task since people will remember you killed it once before, so who's to say you won't kill it again?

What's created our current problem is that these companies are trying to jump start the market again by creating the next 'a-ha moment,' when some argue the we will never have another 'a-ha moment' to begin with.  Finally, though I don't have time to talk about it now, 3D displays are growing so much that they actually are poised to account for MORE than 33% of screens by 2020!  This is more than enough needed for 4K displays to be considered a success, so why not 3D?  That will be worth discussing in a separate article.  For now, LG appears to be out.  Is it for good?  Who knows, honestly?  For a format that is dying it is dying a very slow death.  Because I need to be optimistic, I do want to point out that the BluRay Association seems convinced that 3D isn't dead.  The movie studios aren't convinced of that.  Stores still stock the 3D disks.  Really, only the TV manufacturer's seem to have an issue with it at the moment.

What does that mean?  Well, it means I've got a few articles to work on in the upcoming weeks.  It also means that if you want a LG 3DTV, buy one now before they're gone.  Otherwise, your next TV is going to be a Panasonic or a Sony (the latter, I want to say, is unlikely to ever drop the format, but let's not take it for granted at this point).

3 comments :

  1. 3D fans should buy a second TV now.

    3D OLEDs are on 'end of year' closeouts right now.

    Buy one while you can, or pickup an LG 3D 8500 if you budget is more limited.

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  2. I bought a second 3D OLED while I could for when mine gives up the ghost. Long live OLED 3D! It's the best.

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  3. I think LG did a horrible marketing job with their 3D OLEDs. First, they never advertised that they had the best 3D ever. Second, there was no way to view 3D on the sets in the stores (at least where I live). Third, the least expensive sets had a curved model with 3D (Model C6) and a flatscreen model without 3D (Model B6). When the curved model did not sell well because people don't like curved, LG concluded that they did not care about 3D, whereas the truth is they did not KNOW they would care about the 3D because they never saw how good it was on a 4K OLED (vastly better than any previous 3D TV, which people may have already given up on). LG, with their superior quality OLED 3D, could probably have revived 3D if they had marketed it well, but they sure didn't.

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