Why 3-D Smartphones Are the Best Bet for 3-D Adoption
CREDIT: Sprint. The HTC EVO 3D smartphone.
At the recent CTIA Wireless conference in Orlando, Fla., two major manufacturers jumped into the 3-D market, a market that has been mostly dominated by TVs until this point. While it may seem counterintuitive to relegate 3-D shows to a small smartphone screen, 3-D smartphones might actually have the best chance of promoting 3-D adoption among consumers.
Portability is one of the most important considerations. While 3-D content would look better on a large screen, people can't carry their 3-D TVs around with them. Passing the time on a boring plane ride with a 3-D movie is one of the perks of a 3-D smartphone.
It also widens the customer base because those who would have said they don't have time at home to watch a 3-D movie might want to stream a 3-D show to their phone while traveling.
But there's an even more important benefit to the 3-D smartphone displays: They don't require 3-D glasses . The glasses for 3-D TVs are expensive (many over $100 each), require batteries and are usually not numerous enough for an entire family. The 3-D smartphone bypasses every one of these problems by negating the need for glasses and making the viewing experience personal.
It's not a perfect solution. The screens on the two major 3-D smartphones – the HTC EVO 3D and the LG Optimus 3D – use parallax technology, which has certain flaws. For instance, the screens must be viewed straight on; turning them even a single degree distorts the image. However, these flaws are a relatively minor concern. It's far easier to turn your wrist a bit to adjust the viewing angle than it is to search the couch cushions to find that second pair of 3-D glasses.
Currently, 3-D TVs are very expensive, costing thousands of dollars — and that's before you buy the 3-D Blu-ray player and the extra glasses. 3-D smartphones, on the other hand, will be subsidized by carriers, just like any other phone, making them much cheaper alternatives. There's also no need for disc players and DVRs because of the next point.
A phone's mobile network provides an automatic content delivery system. Movies and shows can be purchased for download or rented for streaming with relative ease, and users don't have to be sitting in their living room either.
For now, there is still very little content for 3-D mobile devices, though that will likely change. Sprint representatives at CTIA indicated the carrier plans to create a content portal for the HTC EVO 3D, and T-Mobile will likely do the same for the LG Optimus 3D. If there is enough content available soon after launch, consumers will flock to it because of the ease of finding and playing movies and TV shows.
Both the EVO 3D and the Optimus 3D have dual cameras that allow the user to shoot their own 3-D images and video. And the 3-D display lets them view it instantly. As long as the cameras work well (all indications are positive so far) then 3-D phones offer the full package: the ability to not only view but create 3-D content. 3-D TVs can't do that.
Of course, there are 3-D camcorders reaching the market, but they are inferior to 3-D smartphones because of the next point.
The price/functionality quotient
The biggest benefit of getting 3-D media through a smartphone is that the device does so many other things as well. The screen may be smaller, but you're getting far more functionality for a cheaper price: phone calls, texting, Internet browsing, hundreds of thousands of apps, FM radio and more.
While there are different implementations of these features in some new Internet-connected TVs, the interface is invariably clunkier and less fully featured than what you find in a simple 3-D smartphone. For this reason alone, 3-D content makers have a better chance of selling their products because people will likely have a 3-D-capable smartphone sooner than an everything-capable 3-D TV.
It may still take a while
While the benefits of 3-D smartphones are obvious, they may remain a rarity for a while. It's still unclear if people are truly interested in 3-D content, regardless of whether or not it requires glasses. The available 3-D content will need to multiply exponentially, and the parallax screens could be further refined. But if anything can inspire 3-D adoption among American consumers, the new 3-D smartphones can.