Step 4: 3D TV Problems, Issues and Concerns

What complications arise with this new technology?

By , Senior Reviewer

With the massive marketing push behind 3D TV you've almost certainly heard all the upsides to watching television in 3 dimensions. For a balanced approach we've researched some of the problems with 3D TV.

It's Expensive

Flat panel HD TVs have seen significant price drops over the last few years, it's pretty easy to find a 50" flat panel TV for under $1000, not too long ago you could buy a fairly nice car for less than a flat panel TV. Even though manufacturers told us that 3D would not add to the price of the TV at CES we are finding that this is not the case. The 3D enabled models make up the top tier of most manufacturer's offerings this year (Samsung has the most different 3D capable lines) and though even top tier model prices have been dropping over the years this is the first year we've seen a significant rise in pricing from one year to the next.

Many people have just recently updraged from standard definition to high definition television and HD components such as a Blu Ray player. To go from 2D to 3D requires at minimum a new, expensive television purchase. Consumers may also need to purchase new components although some recent Blu Ray players will be able to download a firmware update that will make them 3D ready. 3D glasses will also be required for each viewer. For a family of 4 this could add up to nearly $1000 in glasses alone. For more on 3D glasses and pricing see our article here.

Lack of Content

While you can go out and purchase a 3D TV today you would not find much to watch on it. 3D Blu Ray discs won't be making an appearance until the 2010 holiday season, 3D video games will show up around the same time. ESPN has a 3D channel so some select sporting events, such as the World Cup and The Masters, have been broadcast in 3D. More 3D channels from Discovery and Disney are planned as future offerings but this shows the limited content available at the time of writing. For more on 3D content see our article here.

3D content is expensive to produce, it requires special equipment for filming and post and the usefulness is limited for a lot of programming. It's subjective of course but how much will 3D really add to today's bevy of medical and crime dramas, reality shows and sitcoms?

Corrective Lens Wearers

Anyone who wears glasses and has been to see a 3D movie or other production knows that wearing 3D glasses over your glasses is both uncomfortable and awkward. Try as they might to make a pair of 3D glasses that work well for the many near and far sighted people out there it just hasn't happened yet.

Eye strain, Headaches and Nausea

3D works by tricking our eyes and brains, it uses the natural way we process depth to create an appearance of 3 dimensions in a 2D screen (see How 3D TV Works). In extended viewing, even for only the length of an average movie, this can cause many people to feel nausea or get a headache associated with eye strain. Our brain can naturally compensate for some minor eye problems such as a muscle imbalance but the process involved in creating the 3D illusion can bring previously unnoticed eye problems to the forefront and overwork this natural compensation resulting in a headache. More significant eye muscle imbalances can negate the ability to see 3D content entirely.


More and more people today watch TV with a computer in their lap or a smart phone close at hand. In today's connected, digital world people update Facebook or Twitter or chat on a forum with other fans while they watch their favorite shows. 3D glasses don't work well with non 3D content and you'll be taking glasses on and off or trying to look around them to multitask while you watch TV. If this paragraph describes you watching TV then 3D may not be ideal.

It's New

Any early adopter knows that when you purchase the first generation of a new technology you not only pay extra for that privilege, you also get all the bugs inherent in something new. Technology always both improves and gets less expensive. With today's internet connected televisions software problems can be corrected with an update but you'll be stuck with any hardware related issues that crop up. There's also the possibility that 3D TV won't catch on and though you'll still have a nice 2D television, you'll have paid extra for a feature you aren't using.

A 12 Step Guide to Purchasing a 3D TV

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