What is a 3D-Enabled Blu-ray Disc Player?

Official Blu-ray 3D Logo
Official Blu-ray 3D Logo. Blu-ray Disc Association via Wikimedia Commons

3D TV and Home Theater Viewing, although not getting the hype it once did, is an available option for consumers, and the most common way to access 3D content is via a 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc player.

Implementing 3D on Blu-ray

A 3D Blu-ray Disc player is designed from the ground-up to comply fully with the recently adopted 3D for Blu-ray Disc standard.

The way a 3D Blu-ray Disc works is that the image information is encoded on a Blu-ray disc at 720p or 1080p resolution at 24 fps in a manner referred to as frame-packing (two frames stacked on top of each other).

A 3D Blu-ray player works is by reading this encoded 3D signal off a Blu-ray Disc. The player then sends the 3D video information through the rest of the connection chain that must include either a 3D-enabled TV or video projector.

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

Depending on the brand/model of 3D TV, the required glasses may Passive Polarized or Active Shutter (Note: Video projectors targeted for consumer use require Active Shutter glasses). The actual Blu-ray Disc and Player do not have any bearing on the glasses that may be required.

Also, if there is a home theater receiver in the path between the 3D Blu-ray Disc player and the TV or video projector, then the receiver must be able to pass the 3D signal through.

However, if you have a 3D Blu-ray disc player and TV, but your home theater receiver is not 3D-enabled, there is a workaround. For more details on what to, in this case, read my article: Using A Non-3D AV Receiver With 3D TV & 3D Blu-Ray Player.

All 3D signals must be sent via HDMI connections that meet ver1.4, or higher, specifications.

Another feature available on some 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc players is the ability to encode-2D images from Blu-ray or DVD into the 3D format in real-time (some 3D TVs also have this capability). However, this is not the same a viewing natively encoded 3D content as sometimes you will notice some areas of the image where the 3D layers are not correct, and you may also see a slight curve or folding near the bottom of some images. If you are playing a 3D-encoded disc, make sure you have the 2D/3D conversion feature set to "OFF".

Also, another thing to point out is that in addition to its 3D features, a 3D Blu-ray Disc player functions just as any other Blu-ray Disc player - which means it will play standard Blu-ray Discs, DVDs, and music CDs, and, in most cases provide access to internet streaming services.

In addition, although 3D is not included yet in the Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format, the Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players available so far are able to play 3D Blu-ray discs.

The presence of 3D on a Blu-ray Disc does not have a direct bearing on the audio portion of the disc. However, if an immersive surround sound audio formats, such as Dolby Atmos or DTS:X is included as part of the 3D Blu-ray title, if mastered well, it will enhance the 3D viewing experience by adding a more 3D audio listening experience.

As of 2017, there are over 400 3D Blu-ray Disc titles available in the U.S. and more internationally. Check out our listing of Best 3D Blu-ray Discs, as well as Best Blu-ray Disc Players (which include some 3D-enabled models).