Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Being passive... my first 3D HDTV

Well, late last year I broke down and finally upgraded to an uber nice 3D HDTV.  After a ton of research and asking around and more research, the LG 55LW5600 Passive 3DTV  was at the top of my list.  In today's post, I plan to share my experience with the LG 55LW5600 and 3DTV and also will post a follow-up post with every tip / hack / secret menu for the TV. 

3D HDTV: Active vs Passive?

The first thing you have to understand about 3D TV tech is the difference between Active Shutter 3D vs Passive 3D.

Active 3D requires battery powered shutter glasses that basically blank out the left eye and then the right eye to give the 3D effect.  Glasses typically run about $40 a pair and also require the use of an infrared repeater that triggers the flashing of the shutters/lenses.  Here's a good article on active shutter 3D technology (created by Sony and Panasonic).  Those for Active 3D say it has better image quality.

Passive 3D tech is very new.  LG and Panasonic have passive sets released.  This tech uses polarized glasses and a special screen to create the 3D effect by blocking certain light using the polarized lenses to achieve this.  Glasses are very cheap however critics claim that image quality isn't as good as active due to polarizing of image for 3D effect.

My thoughts?

I weighed the positives and negatives of both technologies but ultimately decided on the Passive 3D.  Being a geek and a gamer, I don't need another thing that needs to be charged or plugged in.  Active glasses require a battery, Passive obviously don't.  Second selling point would be the cost of glasses.  $40+ for a pair of active vs $10 a pair for passive? That's a no brainer.  Finally, 3D wasn't going to be the full time job of this TV, gaming and movies were.  Also, image quality is usually not noticeable unless your a videophile type (ie the AVS forums is your home page).

The LG 55LW5600

I found a decent deal on an LG 55" 55LW5600 3DTV and ended up getting it.  It's a smart tv that actually comes with a Wi-Fi adapter (not a seperate purchase), netflix and smart apps, Passive 3D tech, great reviews on AVS forums and was a great deal (about $1300).

Picking up a 55" HDTV definitely requires an SUV, Van or Truck.  So plan accordingly, while I was waiting for my pal with a truck to come I noticed about 5 HDTVs sitting at Best Buy's front door.  Reason? None of them fit into the new owners car or vehicle.

So far I love my LG and the Passive 3D tech.  Image quality is excellent compared to normal 2D Bluray movies.  The glasses are light and cheap and comfortable; the bundle I purchased included 10 pair of passive 3D glasses.  For me, it took about 2 3D movies before my eyes got used to 3D.  Viewing angles on the TV are great.

2D image quality is excellent; I previously had a Sony Bravia 40" and feel that the picture looks sharper on the larger LG 55" than the 40".

Smart apps are what you would expect on a non Android or AppleTV; basic and clunky.  Netflix runs very well though.  I can stream at 1080p with my fast internet connection on it.  I have not really used any other apps on it since I have 4 devices near by that are better suited for those needs.

Inputs are plentiful: 4 HDMI, 2 Component, 2 USB, 1 LAN, 1 PC audio and vga, Digital Optical out.  HDMI Control (Simplink) is supported so you can control other HDMI connected devices like a PS3 using your TV remove.

You also get two remotes: one is your typical TV remote but it does have a back light option (more tv makers need to do this w/there remotes) and the other is motion based Wii-mote like remote.  You point it at the TV and use the onscreen Cursor to choose options, change inputs, etc.  Its a nice idea but could use some refinement; more gimmicky than useful.

The only complaint I have is of the TV itself and some spotlighting that I'm experiencing.  My pal's LG has zero signs of it and in turn I plan to call support to get the screen replaced (only noticeable with a completely black scene/screen).  There have been a few other users I've seen with this problem and the ones who have contacted support have gotten the issue fixed by replacing the screen.   I'll post a follow up on how this goes when I call later this week.

So am I satisfied with my 3D TV purchase? I am! I just wish there was more 3D content and that the manufacturers wouldn't make exclusive deals (i'm looking at you Avatar 3D and not being able to legitimately buy! it's exclusive to Panasonic 3D tvs).  Expect a nice round up of all of the tips, tricks and hacks for the LG 55LW5600 coming later this week.