Hollywood blockbusters are often made with 3D viewing in mind, optimized to deliver an immersive 3D experience. Trees and buildings seem close enough to touch and explosions send shrapnel into the audience. With a 3D TV in your living room, you can relive the excitement of the theater in your home.
Many new LED TVs come standard with 3D technology. Optimized content is, unfortunately, not growing as fast as it used to. However, you can play 3D games on consoles like the PlayStation 3, some Blu-ray players are specifically made to play 3D movies, and satellite and cable providers have dedicated PPV channels for 3D movies. Many directors and producers produce movies that are meant to be watched in 3D. James Cameron made the movie “Avatar” with IMAX and 3D viewing in mind. The experience is not the same as it is in theaters, but with the best 3D TVs, you can enjoy blockbuster movies as they were meant to be seen.
When you're comparing 3D TVs, be sure to consider a number of critical features. The tech behind the glass is important because the better the visual display, the better the 3D picture will look. The best 3D TVs are loaded with other features as well – video streaming apps and adequate connections for peripheral devices, for example. Here are the criteria we use to compare the TVs against each other:
Display & Audio
There are two primary ways to enjoy 3D. TVs operate with either active or passive 3D. Most experts generally regard active 3D as the better-looking option. Passive 3D uses polarized glasses that hide opposite and alternating lines of pixels from each eye. Passive 3D glasses are generally less expensive, but the picture quality does suffer a bit. Most 3D LED TVs are full high definition, but not all HD picture quality is the same. Most high-definition pictures will look just fine when viewed separately, but place them side-by-side and you start to notice small differences. If color and black levels are not up to par, the picture will look a little worse. The better the picture quality, the better the 3D image.
The technology in active 3D is a little more involved. Active 3D requires battery-powered glasses with shutters that rapidly open and close, alternating from left eye to right. The glasses electronically synchronize with your TV so your brain receives the correct image information. Active 3D glasses are more expensive and, because they are battery operated, more bulky than passive 3D glasses. This is why active 3D has become less popular than passive 3D TV sets.
One of the most prominent features on modern LED TVs is built-in Wi-Fi with smart TV functions. Smart TVs not only connect you to the internet, but also include popular apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pandora and Amazon Instant Video. These apps connect to the web, grant you access to social media and allow you to stream video content right to your TV screen.
Another feature you might be interested in is the number of included 3D glasses. Most 3D TVs offer two, but some go above and beyond and offer four pairs. Extra pairs of glasses means you'll need fewer replacement glasses. Some TVs also convert 2D shows to 3D. The best 3D LED TVs offer unique features like controlled 3D depth and multi-player single-screen gaming.
A 3D TV is a large component of a 3D home theater, but you still need 3D equipment like a 3D Blu-ray player or a video game system that plays 3D games. Some satellite and cable companies offer limited 3D channels. To get this content on your TV, you will need to the devices. The most popular way to connect your machinery will be HDMI cables. The more HDMI ports you have, the more devices you can have connected to your TV, completing your home theater system. Extra USB, component and composite ports are also good to have.
Help & Support
The best name-brand TV companies have large customer service departments that handle customer concerns quickly and efficiently. For the most part, the top companies offer a variety of ways to contact customer support day and night. Be sure to look for a good warranty when you buy a 3D TV; the industry standard is one year, though some warranties are up to two years.
The best 3D TVs can add another dimension to your home theater experience. Movie aficionados will appreciate viewing feature films as they were intended to be seen, and gamers will enjoy the hidden split screen feature. Find the best 3D TV for your entertainment room in our review.