While Sony put on an impressive preview of their 3D flat panel HDTVs at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past January (complete with a mini-concert captured live in 3D with Sony Music’s popular teen songstress Taylor Swift), their mid-June press event at Sony Picture Studios in Culver City pulled out all the stops.
Despite a horrendous traffic snarl that morning that could only occur in LA (the 405 freeway was closed, with mid-morning traffic diverted to local streets near Sony Picture Studios), Sony put on an impressive event that firmly underscored their commitment to 3D, both in the theater as well as in the home.
Sir Howard Stringer, Sony’s CEO, led off the event with a synopsis of Sony’s total circle 3D strategy, which includes major participation in six critical areas that they feel aren’t matched by any other CE maker. Content is key, of course, and of the major CE makers, Sony is the only one with a movie and TV studio division, a point driven home with numerous clips of new (Wheel Of Fortune) and old (The Three Stooges) content re-purposed in 3D. Sports has been a big driver of new display technologies, and Sony presented clips of golf and soccer in 3D that looked great, even on their front projection theater-style screen with passive (polarized) Real3D glasses. It’s a virtual certainty that when viewed at home on a 3D HDTV flat panel with active (shutter-type LCD) glasses, the 3D experience will be even better.
Sir Howard then introduced a number of senior Sony executives, including the heads of key divisions such as Sony Pictures Studios, SCEA (the division responsible for the PS3 console family and PS3 gaming), Sony’s consumer electronics arm (TVs, Blu-ray players), among others, which included impressive demos of upcoming 3D PS3 game titles—underscoring the fact that 3D at home won’t necessarily be driven by Blu-ray movies alone (indeed, it’s entirely possible that gamers could be the lead dogs in the acceptance of 3D in the home).
Other speakers at the event included executives from Discovery Channel, ESPN and IMAX, who laid out plans for delivering compelling 3D content, and demo’d impressive clips, the best of which surely had to be the IMAX 3D clip of the space shuttle repairing the Hubble telescope—a breathtaking sight even in 2D, but just freaking amazing to watch in 3D.
After the main event, attendees went next door to an adjacent soundstage, where multiple vignettes were set up featuring 3D in the home in various flavors that Sony envisions. Highlights included PS3 game demos, as Sony had already stated that a 3D firmware upgrade for the PS3 would be available sometime this summer (perhaps by July?).
Notable demos included a direct comparo/shoot-out between a Sony 3D LED-edgelit flat panel next to a Samsung 3D 8000 series equivalent, with Sony touting their expanded infrared dispersion for better IR sync lock off-axis. However, the difference was at best small, as even with the slightly (and only ever-so-much) inferior Samsung, both sets delivered a reliable IR sync lock at the kind of viewing angles that most users would deem acceptable.
Behind that demo, they had another comparo, this time with a Panasonic set (as with the Samsung, electrical tape had been employed to cover the brand logos on the competitive sets, but just about everyone in attendance knew who the players were, regardless), with digital watt-meters on prominent display showing the Sony set’s power consumption to be roughly one-half that of the Panasonic. But, on a per diagonal inch basis, the Panny’s power consumption is actually less than that of an earlier generation Sony 34” CRT-based HDTV, which just goes to show that eco-wise, the HDTV industry is moving forward across all fronts.