3D: FPR vs. Active Shutter

According to Dr. Raymond Soneira FPR trumped active shutter:

The lab measurements showed Passive Glasses to perform much better than the Active Glasses, but what genuinely surprised me is that for the first time I really enjoyed watching 3D content with Passive Glasses.

If you have been considering a 3D TV there are two technologies to choose from: active shutter or film patterned retarder (FPR). Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic are in the active shutter camp while LG and Vizio are FPR purveyors.

[…] the brain through incredibly complex processing of the right and left eye images combines them in a process called 3D image fusion that creates a single visual image (the one we actually see) along with a sensation of depth for everything within the image […]

All currently available 3D displays take 3D imaging and visualization and try to apply it to our eyes, instead of on the object itself. Our eyes and our brain were designed to perceive three dimensional objects. That’s why we have two eyes: one on the left and the other on the right. The three dimensional object is viewed from slightly different angles. The difference between what the left eye sees from what the right eye sees is called parallax. The brain combines the two different visual information and the parallax between them to see three dimensionally.

In my stubborn mind an enjoyable and convincing 3D viewing experience is when I’m viewing something that actually has three dimensions. And when it comes to watching TV, the most pleasurable has been on a high-end 2D TV. But if you want to dive into 3D at home right now, you’ll need to decide between active shutter and FPR.

There are some major knocks against active shutter. John Dvorak wrote that active shutter 3D technology has “a negative impact on kids’ optic nerves.” So if you have kids at home I would recommend staying clear from active shutter. You wouldn’t want it anyway even if it wasn’t linked to epileptic seizures.

Based on our extensive lab measurements and visual test comparisons between 3D TVs with FPR passive glasses versus 3D TVs with active shutter glasses, we found that the passive glasses TVs delivered substantially and demonstrably better all around 3D imaging, 3D contrast and sense of 3D depth, better 3D sharpness, better overall 3D picture quality, immersion and realism, and freedom from 3D ghosting, image crosstalk, and flicker.

If you’ve been deciding which 3D technology to bring home, I believe the answer is clear: FPR.

But if you can wait, possibly for quite some time, wait. You wouldn’t be alone. In a recent iSuppli survey 83% of U.S. folks are not interested in buying a new TV in the next 12 months.

Do you really want to wear a pair of 3D glasses? I already wear eyeglasses, so I’m not fond of the idea. Not even clip-ons.

What I’m going to do is wait, for a TV equipped with a display that has a real third dimension. I want the third dimension to be on the object I see, not be tricked into seeing a non-existent third dimension on a 2D object.

Remember the patent filed by Apple describing a multilayer display? Apple’s idea of a 3D TV involves at least two layers of transparent OLED panels. There is an actual z-axis to this 3D TV and special 3D glasses wouldn’t be required.

Incorporating multiple panels into a single display to manufacture 3D sets isn’t new. Puredepth developed its Multi Layer Display (MLD) technology incorporating multiple 2D image planes. The company’s MLD-3000 (Geek.com review) is a 17-inch monitor that uses two LCD panels. But it is 3.1 inches thick and very costly: back in 2005 it had an MSRP of US$1799.

More recently, Haier showcased a transparent OLED display during IFA. The 22-inch TV sports a pixel format of 1680×1050 and was quite thin. Color wasn’t vibrant but the fact that a large transparent OLED display was manufactured, integrated into a monitor chassis, and made to work is an achievement. Putting two together will undoubtedly be complicated, thick, and expensive, but I think focusing on three dimensionalizing the object is the right direction, instead of tricking our eyes and brain into thinking we’re seeing 3D.

This gets us closer to what Apple is envisioning: two transparent OLED panels integrated into a single display. Now this is a TV with three dimensions that our eyes and brain were design to perceive. And this is the only type of 3D TV that I’m looking forward to owning. I know, I could be waiting for a long time. But good things…