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Monday, January 4, 2010

First 3D Television Channel to Launch in the U.S. in 2010

By: Barb Dybwad

It certainly looks like 2010 is shaping up to be the year during which 3D finally moves from the realm of novelty into both mainstream film and TV. Satellite cable provider DirecTV has a new satellite in the air, and according to HD Guru, one of the 200 new HD stations to be broadcast from it includes the first U.S. HDTV channel in 3D.

There are still some technical hurdles to clear before you’re watching zany sitcom antics flying toward you, but the trend is clear. The satellite begins full operation in March, and existing DirecTV set-top boxes will simply need a firmware upgrade to support the 3D programming. Unfortunately, you’ll still need to pick up a 3D-capable HDTV to play it back, and that’s where the market lag will play a role in determining how fast 3D will penetrate.

Although 3D content has a long history stretching all the way back to 1922 — when the first public 3D movie was displayed — a number of optics and display challenges, as well as market realities, relegated 3D to a periodic novelty for decades. With the vast majority of the technical hurdles now solved and 3D displays making steady inroads at seminal trade shows like CES over the past couple of years, 2010 is poised to be 3D’s breakout year. The emergence of a string of blockbusters like Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and more rounds out 3D’s emergence — or re-emergence — on the big screen. Soon, consumers will come to expect the same experience in their home theater as well.

Sony, Samsung, Mitsubishi, LG and other manufacturers will be showing off 3D displays at CES 2010 next week. They’ll be hoping the stars will align properly to make 2010 3D’s breakout year, and DirectTV’s news is a timely piece of that puzzle. Are you excited about 3D’s inroads to the home, or is your pocketbook still weary from the last cycle of high definition upgrades?