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Stereoscopic 3D Blu-Ray to Get Tepid Welcome

Despite of many doubts, the Blu-ray 3D specifications was ratified just before the holidays by the Blu-ray disc Association (BDA). However, it is hard to expect the stereoscopic 3D Blu-ray in particular or any other stereo 3D technology in general to become popular in 2010.

The Blu-ray 3D standard itself is pretty liberal: players should support full HD 1080p (1920x1080, progressive scan) resolution for each eye, playback of both 3D and 2D content, support for MPEG4 Multiview Video Coding (MVC) codec (an extension to the ITU-T H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) codec currently supported by all Blu-ray disc players) and appropriate outputs. Blu-ray 3D content should playback on 2D BD players in two-dimensional mode.

Moreover, Blu-ray 3D is display agnostic, meaning that Blu-ray 3D products will deliver the 3D image to any compatible 3D display, regardless of whether that display uses LCD, Plasma or other technology and regardless of what 3D technology the display uses to deliver the image to the viewer’s eyes. The compulsory thing for stereoscopic 3D is that those screens should support 120Hz or higher refresh rates. An here lies a problem.

Even though the vast majority of TV-sets on the market support 720p or 1080p high-definition resolution, the transition to HDTVs still has not been completed. Problem here is that far not all modern HDTVs or computer monitors support 120Hz or higher refresh rates. Therefore, if Blu-ray can address the whole installed base of HDTVs, then Blu-ray 3D can only address a tiny fraction of installed HDTVs.

Moreover, those HDTVs that support 120Hz or higher refresh rate and support some kind of stereo 3D capabilities, use different stereoscopic 3D technologies: shutter glasses-based or polarized glasses-based. Considering the fact that those technologies provide different kind of experience for different people, there will naturally be a lot of confusion and the majority will settle with “good-old” 2D equipment.


Blu-ray 3D demo by Sony Corp. Image by CTV News

There is a great interest towards stereoscopic video gaming and movies, however, with all the complexities of currently available technologies, 2010 will not be the year of stereo 3D. On the other hand, the 2010 will be the year of 2D Blu-ray as consumers continue to migrate to high-definition videos.

 
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