First, let's get one thing straight from the off: we are NOT anti-3D. In fact, the experiences we've had of 3D so far have mostly turned us from arch-sceptics into cautious fans. But our 3D experience to date has also highlighted a few areas that the AV world needs to crack before 3D becomes the all-conquering force it has the potential to be.
The first of these issues is something called crosstalk interference. This appears in 3D pictures as a sort of double ghosting effect around specific types of image content; usually - though not exclusively - small, bright, or background objects. A great example of this can be seen during the Golden Gate bridge sequence in the first full HD 3D Blu-ray, Monsters Vs Aliens. The struts and cables of the bridge are clearly duplicated to left and right when shown on some 3D screens.
When it occurs, crosstalk can make the image look unfocussed, and lead to eye strain as they try and bring the ghosting images back together. In other words, crosstalk really can be very detrimental to a 3D experience, making long-term viewing tiring, and reducing the picture's apparent definition.
Every 3D screen we've seen so far has exhibited crosstalk noise to some degree. But while it appeared quite consistently on Samsung's LED 3D TVs, it only appeared very rarely on Panasonic's 3D plasma TVs.
To some extent this is as we would expect, since response time issues with screens are a major contributing factor to crosstalk noise, and LED/LCD TVs have much longer response times than plasma screens. But the extent of the difference between the LCD and plasma screens we've seen so far has been startling, despite Samsung putting massive technical effort into combating the problem. So it suggests that LCD manufacturers, at least, have a real struggle on their hands to sort this crucial issue out.
Connected to this crosstalk problem, in our opinion, is the much-talked about issue of health concerns when watching 3D. We actually believe these concerns have generally been hugely exaggerated by the media. But there's no denying that if a screen or source displays a lot of crosstalk noise, you can start to feel quite tired and even a bit headachy if you keep trying to resolve the crosstalk problems rather than trying to 'tune them out'.
Another potential barrier to widespread 3D adoption is the new glasses you have to wear. The basic fact that you have to wear glasses at all bugs a lot of people; if we had a pound for every time someone had asked us when 3D will be possible without having to wear glasses, we'd already be pleasantly well off.
It doesn't help that the quality of the glasses we've seen so far has been pretty uninspired. Panasonic's models are particularly uncomfortable if worn for an extended period of time.
But where the whole glasses issue really escalates is with their cost. For the essential shutter-based electronics in new 3D glasses mean that we've so far seen them costing anywhere between £80 and £120 a pair. Ouch.
Samsung gives one pair away with their 3D TVs (once you've registered your purchase with them), and Panasonic gives away two pairs. But anyone with a family will have to buy extra pairs if they want everyone to enjoy the 3D experience, adding substantially to the already high costs involved with buying into the 3D world.
To make this worse, it might well amaze you to know that one AV brands' 3D glasses aren't necessarily compatible with another brand's 3D glasses. In other words, if one of your friends has a Panasonic 3D TV and he brings his glasses round to watch something on your Samsung 3D TV, his glasses won't work with your TV. And vice versa. And so far as we know, Sony's glasses also won't work properly with either the Panasonic or Samsung 3D screens.
Although this sounds totally daft, to be fair we kind of understand it. For the different characteristics of different types and makes of 3D screen really need to be accompanied by specialised glass technology to get the best 3D performance possible.
However, these sort of technicalities are hardly likely to interest mainstream buyers, who will instead just feel that the glass compatibility issues totally undermine the much-lauded supposed industry-wide support for a single HD 3D standard. As well as diminishing 3D's all-important potential as a social 'event' (rather than every day) experience.