Sharp last night unveiled its 3D Aquos Quattron HDTVs, each of which comes with not one but two pairs of 3D glasses. But these are not ordinary 3D glasses. If you double-tap the power button, you can watch a 3D program in 2D. And that's a great idea. Here's why.
Say you're watching the Super Bowl in 3D with a group of 3D-glasses-wearing guys and, after one too many brewskies, your brain begins to do an imitation of Michael Phelps. Instead of asking your host to switch the game to 2D to the bitching and moaning of your fellow football inebriates, you can switch your glasses to 2D mode with none the other 3D watchers wiser.
And it works, except for a bit of occasional ghosting. It's a solution that's preferable to pissing off your peeps by asking the 3D be turned off for everyone. For this 2D benefit to work, you'll need different glasses, which are pricey ($200) and run on button-cell batteries. Unfortunately that means they're not rechargeable even though they're equipped with a miniUSB plug, which is for connected AC power only, assuming you have a really long USB cable connected to your glasses.
Oh, yeah, did I mention Sharp introduced their 3D HDTVs last night? With all the ballyhoo surrounding 3D, fewer than half a dozen HDTV makers actually sell 3D sets. Sharp will start selling two premium LED LCD 925 Series 3D models this month: a 60-inch model (LC-60LE925UN, $5,300) and a 52-inch version (LC-52LE925UN, $4,200). Via a USB Wi-Fi dongle, both are connected to Vudu, Netflix and 200 other apps.
They also happen to display a really good plasma-like picture thanks to new, highly jargonized technology. ("side-mount scanning LED backlight"? "frame-rate enhanced driving"? Whatevs.) The fancy tech boosts 3D video brightness otherwise dimmed once you don sunglasses-like 3D glasses, and cuts down ghosting or 3D crosstalk. (Whether or not that extra yellow Sharp added to the primary red, geen and blue colors is a gimmick or actually improves the image I'll leave to those with more platinum eyes than mine.)
The company also unveiled a couple of cool skinny connected slot load 3D Blu-Ray players (BD-HP90U, $500; BD-HP80U, $430) that can be stood up vertically as you see in the phone or hung flat on the wall thanks to mounting holes in the rear. And early next year, there'll be a new 3D DLP projector (XV-Z17000), as yet unpriced.
Buy any of these new 3D toys between Nov. 22 and March 31, 2011, and get a free copy of Despicable Me in both 3D and 2D.