Buying a 3D TV - What You Need To Look For

LG 55EG9100 55-inch Curved Screen 3D OLED TV
LG 55EG9100 55-inch Curved Screen 3D OLED TV. Image provided by LG

3D TVs, after a several years of hype, are not emphasized as much these days, and some manufacturers have stopped offering 3D as viewing option on their TVs. It seems that the big buzzwords in TV tech now are 4K and HDR. However, there are still some great 3D TVs available, not to mention millions in use. Before you jump into the 3D TV experience, there are some useful tips to take into consideration.

Find a Place to put your 3D TV

Find a good spot to place your 3D TV. The darker the room, the better, so make sure if you have windows, can still darken the room in the daytime.

Also, have adequate viewing space between you and the TV. Allow 8 feet for a 50-inch or 10 feet for a 60-inch 3D TV, but make sure the viewing distance you choose is comfortable for both 2D and 3D viewing. 3D is best viewed on larger screen (if you have the space) as it intended to be an immersive viewing experience, not a "looking through a small window" experience. For more information on the optimal viewing distance for a particular size 3D TV check out Best 3D TV Screen Size and Viewing Distance (Practical Home Theater Guide) and the THX HDTV Setup Guide.

Make Sure The 3D TV Fits in the Spot You Have Chosen

Many times consumers purchase a TV, get it home just to return it because it just doesn't quite fit in the entertainment center, on the TV stand, or on the wall space.

Make sure you measure the required space for your TV and bring those measurements and tape measure to the store with you. Account for at least a 1 to 2-inch leeway on all sides and several inches behind the set, in order to make it easier to install and allow for adequate ventilation as well as extra space for the installation of any audio/video connections, so there is enough room to move the TV so that cables can be easily connected.

LCD or OLED Which is Best For 3D TV?

Whether you choose a 3D LCD or OLED TV is your choice. However, there some things to take into considering with each option.

LCD is most is commonly available TV type now that Plasma TVs have been discontinued, even for 3D, but make sure you do some comparison viewing before making a final choice. Some LCD TVs are better at displaying 3D than others.

OLED is your second choice. OLED TVs provides excellent picture quality with deeper blacks, which contribute to wider contrast and more saturated color. However, OLED TVs are about twice the price of an LCD TV of equivalents screen size and feature set.

Active or Passive Glasses

Yes, you will need to wear glasses to watch 3D. However, these are not the cheap paper 3D glasses of yesteryear. There are two types of 3D glasses in use for 3D TVs:

Passive Polarized glasses. These type of glasses are inexpensive and anywhere from $5 to $25 each.

Active Shutter glasses have batteries and a transmitter that synchs the glasses with 3D images and are more expensive than passive polarized glasses ($50 to $150).

Depending on which 3D TV you buy, determines whether passive polarized or active shutter glasses will be required.

For example LG uses the Passive System on their 3D TVs, while Samsung uses the Active Shutter System. Sony uses both systems, depending on the model series.

Depending on the manufacturer, 1 or 2 pairs of glasses may be provided, or they may be an optional purchase. Also, glasses branded for one manufacturer may not work on another 3D-TV. If you and a friend have different brand 3D-TVs, in most cases, you will not be able to borrow each other's 3D glasses. However, XpanD makes Universal 3D Glasses that can work on most currently available 3D TVs that use the Active Shutter system.

3D Source Components and Content - Make Sure You Have Something to Watch in 3D

To watch 3D on your 3D TV, you need content supplied by a a A 3D-enabled Blu-ray Disc player, HD-Cable/HD-Satellite via a compatible set-top box, and from the internet via select streaming services.

3D Blu-ray Disc players are designed from the ground-up to be compatible will all 3D TVs. The Blu-ray Disc player delivers two simultaneous 1080p signals (one 1080p signal for each eye). On the receiving end, 3D TV is able to receive and process this signal.

By the same token, if receiving 3D content via HD-cable or Satellite, you may need a new 3D-enabled Cable or Satellite box or it may be possible to provide an upgrade to your current box, depending your service provider. For more details, contact your cable or satellite service provider.

Of course, having a 3D TV, 3D Blu-ray Disc player, or 3D Cable/Satellite Box doesn't do you any good without content, which means buying BD Blu-ray Discs (as of 2016 there are over 350 titles available), and subscribing to 3D Cable/Satellite (check your satellite and cable programming guide) or internet streaming programming (Vudu, Netflix, and others).

Be Aware of 3D TV Settings

When you buy your 3D TV, take it out of the box, plug everything in and turn it on, you may find that the factory default settings may not get you the best 3D TV viewing results.

Optimum 3D TV viewing requires a brighter image with more contrast and detail, as well as faster screen refresh rate. Check your TV's picture settings menu for presets, such as Sports or Standard, rather than Cinema. When viewing 3D, these settings provide a higher level of brightness and contrast. Also, check to see if settings for 120Hz or 240Hz refresh rate or processing.

The combinations of these settings will help decrease the amount of ghosting and lag in the 3D image as well as compensate for some of the brightness loss that occurs when viewing through 3D glasses. Changing your TVs settings will not damage your TV, and if you get them too far off, there are Reset options that can return your TV to its default settings. If you are uncomfortable changing your TV's settings, take advantage of any installation or setup services offered by your local dealer.

Also, it is important note, contrary to what you may have heard, that all 3D TVs made for consumers allow you to watch TV in standard 2D. In other words, you don't have to watch 3D all time - you will find that your 3D TV is probably an excellent 2D TV.

Audio Considerations

Nothing changes with audio with the introduction of 3D into a home theater setup, except how you might make the physical audio connections between a 3D-enabled source component, such as a Blu-ray Disc player and an existing home theater receiver.

If you really want to be fully 3D signal compliant across the entire connection chain of your home theater system, you need a 3D compatible home theater receiver that can pass a 3D signal from the Blu-ray Disc player through the receiver and on to the 3D TV.

However, if this is not in your budget, upgrading to a 3D compatible home theater receiver, would be a low priority, as you can still send the video signal directly from the Blu-ray Disc Player to the TV and the audio from the player to the home theater receiver using a separate connection, but it does add an extra cable connection to your setup, and may limit access to some surround sound formats.

Budget Wisely - Take Advantage of Sales and Special Promotions

Just as with buying any other consumer electronics device, budget wisely. Take into consideration added added costs, such as purchasing 3D Glasses, 3D Blu-ray Disc player, 3D Blu-ray Discs, 3D Home Theater receiver, and any cables you might need to connect it all together.

However, you can also save money by keeping close watch on Ad Specials that feature 3D TV "bundles". Although this is not as common now that 3D TVs have available for awhile, be on the look out for any specials that might feature either discounted price on a 3D TV, or bundles that include a 3D TV, 3D Blu-ray Disc Player, a couple of 3D Blu-ray Disc movies, and may even extra 3D glasses. In addition, be sure to ask if the TV qualifies for free delivery in your local area, if not, make sure you take that cost into consideration.

Get one while you can!

Original Publish Date: 01/21/2011 - Robert Silva