What Is a 3D Blu-ray Disc Player?

If you have a 3D TV, a 3D Blu-ray Disc player is a must

While 3D TVs are no longer being manufactured, there are still many in use, along with home theaters that feature 3D-enabled video projectors. If you're a fan of 3D Blu-ray movies, a 3D Blu-ray Disc player might be a great addition to your setup. Here's everything you need to know about 3D Blu-ray players.

Official Blu-ray 3D Logo
Wikimedia Commons

How 3D Blu-ray Works

Image information is encoded on 3D Blu-ray discs at 720p or 1080p resolution at 24 frames per second, in a manner referred to as "frame-packing" (two frames stacked on top of each other).

When a 3D Blu-ray Disc is inserted into a 3D Blu-ray player, the laser assembly reads the encoded 3D signal. It then sends the video information through the rest of the connection chain, including a 3D-enabled TV or video projector.

The 3D TV or video projector decodes the 3D signal and displays the two previously stacked frames so that two overlapping, but slightly different, images are displayed on the screen simultaneously (one for the left eye and one for the right eye). These images are blended into a 3D image via special glasses worn by the viewer.

Depending on the 3D TV model, the required glasses may​ be passive polarized or active shutter.

Consumer 3D video projectors require active shutter glasses. Your Blu-ray Disc player model or disc doesn't have any bearing on the type of 3D glasses required.

3D Blu-ray Disc Players and Home Theater Receivers

If you place a home theater receiver in the path between the 3D Blu-ray Disc player and the TV or video projector, the receiver must be able to pass the 3D signal from the player to the TV or video projector.

All 3D signals must be sent via HDMI connections that meet version 1.4 or higher specifications.

If you have a 3D Blu-ray disc player and TV but are using a home theater receiver that isn't 3D-enabled, ​there's still a way to play and display your 3D content.

What Is 2D-3D Conversion?

Some 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc players and 3D TVs can encode 2D images from Blu-ray or DVD into the 3D format in real-time. But this isn't the same as watching natively encoded 3D content. You'll notice if the 3D layers aren't correct, and you may see a slight curve or fold near the bottom of some images.

If you're playing a 3D-encoded disc, make sure to turn off the 2D-to-3D conversion feature.

3D Blu-ray Disc Player Functionality

A 3D Blu-ray Disc player functions just like any other Blu-ray Disc player. It can play standard Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, music CDs, and other formats, depending on your player model. Many models provide internet streaming services, as well.

If you insert a 3D Blu-ray Disc into a player connected to a non-3D TV or video projector, the player will display the content in 2D or issue a "disc is incompatible" message.

3D and Audio

The presence of 3D on a Blu-ray Disc doesn't really affect the disc's audio. However, if an immersive surround-sound audio format, such as Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, is part of the 3D Blu-ray title, you should experience higher-quality sound.

3D and Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Players

Most Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players can play 3D Blu-ray discs. If you're upgrading to an Ultra HD Blu-ray player and need 3D playback capability, make sure this feature is available.

Availability

As of 2020, more than 500 3D Blu-ray Disc titles are available in the U.S., and more internationally. While the flow of new releases is slowing down, major film releases often provide a 3D Blu-ray edition for purchase.