Blu-ray Players Under $300 – PCWorld.com has a feature review of 11 recommended Blu-ray players under $300. The Panasonic DMP-BD60K came out No. 1. They found that the Sony PlayStation 3, though now only $299, didn’t meet the same image quality as a stand-alone player. They also liked the DVD upscaling abilities of the Sony BDP-S560.
Panasonic 3D Professional Camera – Most 3D filmmakers have been using two cameras placed 6.5 cm apart – to represent the equivalent distance between the eyes, making a large and unwieldy rig. Panasonic has announced a new camera that is lightweight and fully integrated with twin lenses and an HD 3D camcorder. The 3kg body and ability to shoot handheld will enable filmmakers to shoot in environments where the conventional 3D setup would be difficult to operate. The camera will be ideal for the documentaries, movies and telecast content being readied for 3D release. A 3D LCD monitor will also be available for field use. The camera is so far available in Australia for about $20,000.
Blu-ray Penetration – According to Adams Media Research data, the number of Blu-ray households increased more than 75% in 2009 vs. 2008, with the sales of Blu-ray players up more than 2.5 times over levels of a year ago. Blu-ray playback devices in use now number 17.6 million units. The growth of online HD movie and video streaming services has not shown any negative impact on Blu-ray since the two offer solutions for different use models. The discounting of Blu-ray discs and the lowered prices of players have also helped the Blu-ray format.
Blu-ray Disc Association Welcomes the 3D Age – The BDA recently approved the specs for 3D and its addition to the Blu-ray Disc blueprint should help maintain the format’s successful penetration. Studios will be able to package 3D Blu-ray titles together with 2D versions of the same film on the same disc. A BDA spokesman said that the format is the ideal platform for 3D technology in the mainstream market due to its high quality of picture and sound and the uniformity and compatibility the specs offer across the full range of Blu-ray 3D products. The specs allow for full HD 1080p resolution to each eye, and apply equally to LCD, plasma, front projectors, and other display formats, regardless of the 3D systems those devices use to present 3D to viewers. A firmware upgrade will soon allow PS3 gaming consoles to play back 3D content of both games and movies. The specs also support the playback of 2D discs in all forthcoming 3D Blu-ray players.
3D Glasses Format War – A battle is emerging for control of the 3D glasses market which viewers must wear to properly see the full effects of 3D displays. Four companies presently control the 3D glasses market, each claiming their technology is better than the competition. RealD made millions of glasses for Avatar. They are polarized and cost about 65 cents each. Dolby, who have mainly been active in the movie sound area, is another major manufacturer, and their glasses cost around $35 each. MasterImage 3D uses a similar polarized technology to RealD.
On the other hand, “active” glasses use liquid crystal shutters, controlled by infra-red or radio frequencies to open and close rapidly – as fast as 144 times a second. These LC shutter glasses are better suited to LCD displays, are battery-powered, and cost from $50 to $100 each, requiring movie theaters to collect them, wash and sanitize them, and replace batteries after each showing. Video displays use alternate-frame sequencing, to which the glasses sync up, alternately darkening one eye and then the other. The system eliminates “ghosting,” which is said to be a problem with the polarized system, but it darkens the screen image – just as do polarized glasses. XpandD is the world leader in active-shutter 3D glasses but lacks the penetration in the U.S. of the other technologies. On the horizon is 3D without glasses, but that has severe limitations and may not work out. It is similar to binaural reproduction, which requires stereo headphones for best results, but can be reproduced thru speakers with special processing of the signals – but again with severe limitations. For 3D HDTV a number of dueling transmission standards have to be ironed out.