DisplaySearch did a worldwide study of consumer TV purchasing, and much to my surprise (NOT!) has found that consumers don’t give a whit about 3D TVs. And internet connectivity didn’t fare much better.
The DisplaySearch study gave consumers 17 factors to weigh for the importance of their TV purchases. Of these were general factors like size and thinness, and technological features such as 3D-capable, internet connectivity, and LED backlighting. The study has results separated by country, though this separation seems to matter very little. Even early adoption countries like Japan showed little variation and a very small interest in 3D technology.
“Even Japanese consumers, long considered to be early adopters, cited 3D as a relatively unimportant factor when deciding to buy a new TV,” said the DisplaySearch Global TV Replacement study.
What did appeal to customers? Power consumption, thinness, light weight, and overall size were the predominant factors. While LED backlighting, internet connectivity, and 3D were amongst the least important purchasing motivators.
Which, actually, is kind of ironic, as it is the move to using LEDs for the backlighting that has allowed modern LCD TVs to be so thin and use so much less power. (Something that I was actually amazed at myself when I recently plugged my LED-backlit TV into my UPS and saw how little strain it actually placed on the UPS’s overall load.) It’s a sales point that TV manufacturers seem to be neglecting badly in their marketing campaigns if consumers are so unaware of this important detail about LED-backlit TVs.
Of other interest were the overall display technologies numbers. The incredible vast majority of TVs purchased, about every 4 out of 5, were LCD-based. Cathode ray tubes (CRTs), those big bulky TVs of old before flatscreen, come in as second and still account for a stunning 13.2% of TV sales. Plasma however, LCD’s biggest flatscreen competitor (technologically wise), came in at third with a mere 6.6%. And random stray bits of display technology like reverse-projection were negligently measurable.
And specifically, as for 3D? Just how many TVs sold were 3D-capable? Only a miniscule 4% of the TV sales in the survey were 3D TVs. Truly, consumers aren’t sold on 3D TV as a feature.
And honestly, who can really blame them?
Having watched in-store demos of 3D TVs, I myself wasn’t sold on the concept. Even the best-case scenarios, the marketing materials, varied widely in usage of depth. Some scenes jumped out at you, almost painfully so, looking positively ridiculous like reading a child’s pop-up book. Where as others made so little use of depth that you really had to concentrate just to see any 3D experience at all. Run together in a loop, it looked positively ridiculous. And made Nintendo’s depth slider on their 3DS an obvious necessity if 3D content producers are so varied in their usage of the pseudo third dimension. Some kind of automated normalizing function would certainly not be amiss.
But worse, really, even at their best, the 3D videos really just felt … lifeless and fake. There was no subtlety, no bump mapping, depth blending, no attempt whatsoever to portray any sense of reality. At least when it comes to TVs, 3D continues to be the gimmick it has always been since its inception. The methodology of displaying it to the consumer may have improved, but even if you can overlook the continued unfortunate need for glasses in most cases, problematic to the optically challenged amongst us, it’s still just so … ridiculously fake. It’s no wonder that Nintendo has warned of potential visual development problems in young children from viewing 3D. One wonders how long it will take TV manufacturers to be required to post similar warnings.
But regardless of my personal distaste for 3D television as it is offered today, and of the limitations of the technology, it stands now in clear statement that I am not alone, that the incredible vast majority of television set consumers are also unconvinced of the merits of 3D TV. And one wonders if this will improve over time and 3D TV will increase in adoption, or if the death knell of the resurgence of the 3D fad has already rung.