LG Electronics India Limited (LGEIL), which is the current 3D TV leader in India with about half the market share, is gearing up to launch its new 2012 series of Cinema 3D Smart TVs. Mr. Soon Kwon, MD of LEGIL, heralded the 2012 lineup as “a significant step forward, thanks to a series of new and upgraded 3D features”.
LG Cinema 3D 72LM9500
There are three principle techniques employed by 3D TVs to provide a perception of depth. They are – Shutter, Color Anaglyph, and Polarized. While the latter two are called as passive 3D, the former is dubbed as active. 3D TVs from the likes of Samsung and Sony fall into the first category. These TVs essentially use glasses that are synced with the TV and have a shutter that alternately opens and closes to deliver different frames to different eyes. The problem with this technique is that the glasses require batteries as well as an infra-red sensor to be able communicate with the TV set. This makes them both heavy and expensive. This technique also reduces the effective refresh rate of the TV. Anaglyph 3D content has two differently filtered colored images, one for each eye. The glasses are specially tinted to allow only one image and block the other. Thus, each eye receives a different image. Anaglyph glasses don’t have any complicated circuitry, and hence are lighter and cheaper. The disadvantage of Anaglyph is that due to the tinting, the viewer often gets a dimmer image with poor contrast and color reproduction. Moreover, since both the images are delivered at the same time, there is a possibility of artifacts being present. Polarized 3D TVs work in a similar fashion; however, instead of altering the color, it alters the frequency of the image. Polarized glasses are expected to alleviate contrast and color reproduction issues; however, it still can suffer from the presence of artifacts.
LG’s Cinema 3D display uses polarization technique (they prefer to call it Film Type Patterned Retarder 3D or FPR). As a result, LG Cinema 3D is able to deliver full 240 Hz refresh rate, which on paper means that you shouldn’t observe any flickering. The glasses are also super light (15 grams) and extremely comfortable. For folks with spectacles, there is a clip-on lens that’s even thinner and lighter.
LG Cinema 3D FPR Glasses
LG Cinema 3D FPR Clip-On Glasses
Now that we understand how LG’s Cinema 3D works, let’s have a look at some of the new features it will be introducing in its 2012 line-up.
Cinema Screen: In its LED 3D TVs, LG has managed to trim the bezel down to a phenomenal 1 mm. Thus, the actual display almost extends from edge to edge. LG is calling this Cinema Screen, since it believes that the new design will facilitate a seamless and immersive viewing experience à la the big screen.
LG Cinema 3D LM8600 with Cinema Screen
2D to 3D Conversion: 3D content is still pretty rare in the market. In order to tackle this problem, LG developed an algorithm to convert 2D content into 3D on the fly. The new models will feature an improved 6-step algorithm that should offer better 3D viewing experience.
Dual Play: Last year, we saw Sony allowing gamers to play PS3 games against each other on the same television screen by using special glasses. Now, LG is following suit with Dual Play for Xbox. As discussed earlier, 3D TV essentially works by displaying two different images to two different eyes. Somewhat similarly, dual play works by displaying two different images to two different players.
Magic Remote: LG has enhanced its remote by adding gesture support and a scroll wheel to it. The latter is particularly handy while surfing the web, while the former makes issuing complex command simple.
Smart Share Plus: While most current generation TVs come with DLNA for displaying multimedia content from mobile phones, tablets, and PCs on the big screen, LG has added support for a host of new technologies to differentiate itself. MHL (Mobile HD Link) allows compatible smartphones to be connected to the TV through micro HDMI to play HD content on the big screen. WiDi (Intel’s Wireless Display) enables fast and easy connection between TVs and Laptops without any wires or internet network. Wi-Fi Screen Share enables the content on the TV screen to be shared with multiple devices including smart phones and tablets. And finally, 2nd Display enables you to watch TV programs or Blu-ray content on your smartphone or your tablet PC, even if that content is not being displayed on your TV. So, you can watch a cricket match on your tablet, while your mom is watching her favorite soap on the television. This feature will not be present out of the box, but will be made available by mid-2012 through an automatic software update.
LG Cinema 3D in Action
So, the LG Cinema 3D displays are packed to the brim with fun and useful features. However, how does it perform in real life? Earlier this week, I got a brief opportunity to check out the new displays in action, and the good news is that when it comes to picture quality, LG’s offerings perform mostly as advertised. Brightness, contrast and color reproduction, which have been some of the major caveats of 3D TVs, are excellent. Flickering also didn’t rear its ugly head. However, I can’t vouch if LG has managed to address the headache issue, without using the 3D displays for prolonged periods. The 2D to 3D conversion is quite neat and adds a perceivable amount of depth to existing content. However, I didn’t get a chance to check out the 3D conversion algorithm in action on a live stream. LG only had a music video for demonstration purposes. I am told that the effectiveness of the conversion process is heavily dependent on the quality of the source material. LG allows the user to control the intensiveness of the 3D effect. As you move the slider towards the right, depth of the picture increases; however, so does the amount of observable interlacing. Presets are available to help you tune the conversion settings according to the content that you are watching.