Passive 3D TV’s are Now Available

LG Passive FPR,  3D TV’s are in stores now at select US and Canadian consumer electronic retailers.

Why hasn’t 3D TV for the home taken off yet?  Some will say it’s the price, others will say it’s lack of content but most agree it’s the expensive goofy glasses.

Television makers are painfully aware that most consumers don’t like the 3D glasses especially the expensive, bulky, battery powered 3D glasses used in the first generation Active Shutter consumer 3D televisions.  Not only are these Active Shutter glasses heavy and awkward to wear, especially if you already wear prescription glasses TV, they’re expensive often costing $100 – $200 a pair!

This year at 2011 CES,  LG Electronics introduced a NEW Consumer 3D technology called Film Patterned Retarder Technology or FPR for short.  The industry is calling these new FPR 3D TV’s “Passive 3D” because they use inexpensive, light weight, un-powered, polarized 3D glasses and use a special film on the screen to create the 3D images and effects as opposed to the old Active Shutter Technology which relies on the powered glasses to sync with the TV to decode the 3D imagery.

LG invented the technology and has licensed it to Vizio, Philips and Toshiba.  Panasonic, Samsung and Sharp are only producing Active Shutter 3D TV’s this year and it’s unclear if Sony is going to offer Passive FPR 3D TV’s this year or not although Sony is currently talking with LG with regard to licensing the technology.

Problems – Active Shutter 3D Technology:

Active shutter 3D technology has been plagued with issues since it’s introduction.  The main complaints from consumers regarding Active Shutter 3D technology are:

1.)  FLICKER – a vast majority of consumers report some type of “Flicker or Motion” artifacting with Active Shutter 3D displays.  This most often occurs in a room with ambient lighting and can be minimized or eliminated by keeping the room completely dark.  We’ve never experienced “Flicker” from a Active Shutter 3D panel in a DARK, dedicated Media Room with No Ambient light.

2.) Eye Fatigue – this is related to the Flicker Problem and many viewers of Shutter Technology 3D TV report eye fatigue, soreness or dry eye after watching prolonged 3D programming.

3.) Nausea – while Flick and Eye Fatigue are the most common complaints with Active Shutter 3D TV a much smaller portion of 3D viewers report feeling sick, nausea or dizziness when viewing 3D content.  This is most often caused by the “Crosstalk” or Image Overlapping that occurs with 3D technology in and of itself however tests did show fewer complaints of dizziness or nausea with the new Passive (FPR) 3D TV than with the older Active Shutter 3D TV technology.

4.) Glasses: – Active 3D glasses are big, heavy, expensive and require batteries which if not recharged can die while you’re right in the middle of watching a moving.  Many viewers find the Active glasses heavy and uncomfortable to wear and some viewers with prescription eye glasses can’t wear the Active glasses over they’re prescription glasses.

Active Shutter 3D Technology – How does it work?
Acitve 3D or Shutter Technology consists of a display that transmits a separate image for both left and right eye sequentially at a frame rate of 120ms or faster.  The 3D imagery is decoded by special Active Shutter, Battery Powered Glasses which the viewer must wear in order to see the 3D effect.  The Active Shutter Glasses sync to the appropriate frame on the TV and alternate closing on and off light to the left and right lens of the Active Shutter glasses thus allowing only left images to be seen by the left eye and right images to be seen by the right eye – Presto 3D imagery occurs.

Benefits of Active Shutter 3D Technology:

The biggest advantage of active shutter technology is that the Full 1080P(1980×1080 pixels) is produced by the panel and decoded in each eye by the glasses.  Active 3D has good vertical ad horizontal viewing angles so if you stand up, sit down or move or view your TV off axis you’ll still see the 3D effect.

Benefits of Passive 3D (FPR) Technology:

The biggest benefits of Passive 3D technology are the glasses.

1.) Light Weight – Passive 3D glasses use circular polarized lenses like the ones you get in movie theaters.  Passive glasses are light weight (50-70% lighter than Active glasses)

2.) Cost Less – because there are no electronics in Passive Glasses they cost up to 85% less than Active glasses.  This translates to more viewers watching your 3D TV set which in and of itself will make Passive 3D more popular as it will be shared by more viewers.

3.) No Battery Power – Passive 3D glasses are simply polarized lenses and require no battery power and the size, weight, cost and inconvenience that goes along with that.

4.) Increased Brightness – Both 3D Technologies lose brightness however FPR – Passive 3D is said to lose “less” brightness than Active 3D panels.  While this is true most TV manufacturers can compensate for this by adding extra lamps or LED lights inside their panels increasing the effective brightness as well as the cost of their sets.  If Passive 3D has increased brightness the only real effect will be Passive TV’s should be cheaper since they require fewer lamps or LED’s to achieve the desired brightness.

5.)  More Comfortable Glasses – Passive 3D glasses are similar to regular glasses and therefore are more comfortable to wear hands down.  People who were prescription glasses can wear clip on style glasses overtop of their regular glasses similar to sun shades.

6.)  Vertical and Horizontal Viewing – Because Passive 3D does not rely on decoding or syncing with the horizontal lines on the display you can view the display sitting up or lying down and still view maintain the 3D effect.  Active Glasses require you to sit up at all times in order to Sync with the host TV set.

Passive 3D – How It Works?

Passive 3D screens are covered with a special coating called Passive Pattern Retarder (FPR).  It’s this special coating combined with the Polarized Glasses that allows each eye to view what is is intended to see to create 3D imagery.  The Passive 3D TV displays both the left and right eye image at the same time using alternating lines of resolution.  In a typical 1080P set the odd numbered lines for example 1,3,5 …. etc would display the left eye image while the even lines 2,4,6,… etc would produce the right eye images.

Problems – Passive 3D Technology:

There are many benefits to Passive 3D technology however it’s not without it’s drawbacks.

1.)  Resolution – The biggest criticism of Passive 3D technology is the lower 3D resolution.  With passive glasses and a typical 1080P FPR display each eye sees the 3D effect with one half the vertical resolution or 540 lines.  LG researchers found that the typical consumer finds this level of resolution acceptable and in tests some viewers didn’t even notice the drop in resolution when comparing Active and Passive 3D.  While the drop in resolution may not be noticeable when viewing 1080P Blu-ray content it’s sure to be noticeable when viewing some 3D broadcast networks who are only transmitting at 960×1080 or half 1080P resolution to save bandwidth.  Viewing these channels with Passive 3D technology will lower the effective resolution to 960 x 540 per eye or one-quarter “Full-HD” which is only slightly better than regular DVD image resolution.  Still acceptable perhaps for the general consumer viewing on a 42” flat panel but one wonders what it would look like on a 12’ Home Theater projection screen?

SideBar: As panel resolutions continue to increase there is the possibility in the future that panel resolutions to double to 3840 x 2160,  this would allow Passive 3D panels to display Full 3D HD from 1080P sources and 1/2 3D HD from broadcast sources.

2.)  3D Crosstalk:

Passive 3D TV’s have a narrower vertical viewing angle than Active Shutter 3D Panels.  The effective viewing angle for Passive 3D is about +/- 15 degrees above or below center, varying past that sweet spot causes 3D crosstalk, doubling of images and distortion.  Active 3D displays do not have this problem but cannot be viewed when lying down or with your head titled more than 40 degrees.

The narrow sweet spot of Passive 3D will not be a problem in dedicated home theatre rooms or media rooms but certainly would pose a problem for the many households who have their TV mounted up high above their fireplace or sports bars who have their TV mounted up high generally around the 8’ level.

3.)  Visible Lines:

When viewing a 3D program on an FPR panel one sometimes can see visible scan lines often referred to as the “screen door effect” or “venetian blind effect’.  This faint black scan bars were often seen on early 720P regular flat panel displays and it’s questionable how the general public will respond to these black horizontal lines in the picture of Passive 3D sets.

4.)  Off Axis Viewing:

The typical regular Plasma or LCD Flat Panel has a viewing angle of 120-170 degrees depending on the quality of the Panel before a noticeable shift in color or brightness occurs.  With Passive 3D technology the 3D effect seems to diminish once you get off axis as little as 45 degrees and continues to compress the depth of image the further off axis you view the screen.  This does not happen with Active Shutter technology.

5.)  Regular 2D TV Image Quality:

Passive 3D displays are more prone to exhibit color shifting and loss of contrast as you move off axis from side to side due to the FPR mask being applied to the final outside layer of the screen.  While this contrast and color shift is most often seen in cheap LCD TV and computer monitor panels the FPR mask narrows the off axis viewing angle even with regular 2D TV programming so be aware of this problem if you’re thinking about purchasing a 3D TV for your media or family room and will be viewing it from more than 45 degrees off access.


The last thing 3D TV needs right now is a format war but 2011 is poised to be just that for 3D TV Makers.  LG, Vizio, Philips, Toshiba and several others have adopted the Passive 3D technology moving forward while Samsung, Sharp and Panasonic are firmly entrenched in the Active Shutter 3D Camp.  Sony is currently producing Active Shutter 3D sets but has been talking with LG about Passive 3D worried that another Betamax vs VHS format war is in the works and not wanting to come out on the losing end this time.

Format wars are costly for manufacturers and confusing for consumers.  Many videophiles cringe at the thought of losing resolution with the Passive 3D technology but if history teaches us anything the cheaper, more convenient Passive 3D technology will probably win this battle just like inferior systems such as VHS won over Betamax, Blu-ray won over HD-DVD and Dolby won the battle with dbx (huh? what’s dbx? …. see what I mean).

In each of the previous format wars not only was their a different decoding technology but there was a different media format as well,  Beta couldn’t be played on VHS, Blu-ray would not work with HD-DVD and dbx cassette tapes and records could only be played with a dbx decoder unlike Dolby with could be played with or without.

At least with the current competing 3D Format Wars BOTH Active and Passive 3D decoding use the same FORMAT, so for now consumers don’t have to worry about re-buying their DVD collections if one format wins over the other.  Broadcasters too so far can plan 3D networks knowing that BOTH technologies will be able to decode their programming.

Which format will Win?  Ultimately neither, in my opinion.  Passive 3D will make huge gains over Active 3D this year not because the picture resolution is better but because it’s good enough, the passive 3D glasses are more comfortable and all in all the cost of ownership of a Passive 3D TV system will be less costly and hence more affordable than an Active 3D TV system.

Hello – this is Beta vs VHS and Blu-ray vs HD-DVD and Dolby vs dbx all over.  In each previous format war the Best “Technical” format didn’t win, the good enough, simple, easy to use, most popular, convenient and lowest cost acceptable solution won, which is exactly what’s going to occur with Passive and Active 3D TV this year.

The main reason that Passive 3D will win out over Active 3D TV is the fact that the consumer really wants NO Glasses 3D TV and views both these formats as a cross-over product until NO Glasses 3D arrives.  Knowing that NO Glasses 3D TV will eventually come,  Passive 3D TV will provide acceptable 3D picture quality, with comfortable glasses at an overall lower cost.   For 2011 it appears that Passive (FPR) 3D TV will win the battle between Active and Passive 3D TV, but although the battle may be won the 3D TV format war will continue until No Glasses, 3D TV with 1080P resolution is a reality.

Some Passive 3D TV models from Vizo and LG are available now at Select Consumer Electronics Retail Stores with more on the way.  Check out the new Passive 3D TV’s and share your thoughts we’d like to hear from you.

If you’re building a house, planning a renovation or require assistance hooking up your home audio video system give Doyle at DJ’s Sound City a call 780-489-5522 or email

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21 Responses to Passive 3D TV’s are Now Available

  1. Adam McGilvray says:

    Ummm, I liked the comparison to the Betamax/VHS format war, but how can you say that HD-DVD was superior to Blu-Ray? HD-DVD relied on the older red laser which was larger and thus could not ultimately match the theoretical density limit of the smaller blue laser. HD-DVD relied on higher compression algorithms to cram HD video onto it. Blu-ray “won” because it ultimately could hold more information – making it attractive not only for theatrical movie releases, but also as future storage usages for computers.

    I agree with all the other points you made – just found this one curious.

    • Kenneth says:

      To Adam:
      I have to correct you. HD-DVD didn’t use a red laser, regular DVD does but HD-DVD DID implement the blue laser. The difference between HD-DVD and Blu-ray was that HD-DVD used the same sized disks as DVD, but with the implementation of the blue laser it could fit more information, 15GB single layer and 30GB dual layer. Blu-ray, however uses a thicker, so to speak, disk which decreases the size of its protective layer. Sounds like a bad idea until you know Blu-ray has a scratch resistant coating on there disks for added protection. Blu-ray effectively has 25GB to 50GB on their disks, almost DOUBLING the capacity of HD-DVD, almost. I know there are more technical differences, but that’s mainly it.

    • Satviewer2000 says:

      BluRay “won” only because the movie studios decided to join Sony rather than Toshiba. Since Sony owns Columbia, no matter how many other movie studios joined Toshiba, they could never get 100% consensus. If there were a 50/50 split between the major movie studios as far as which format to support, then the war would likely still be going on. Also, if Toshiba had owned one of the movie studios, the battle would not end until both companies went bankrupt. I do agree, however, that BluRay is superior to HD-DVD in terms of features, arguably picture quality, and storage capacity.

  2. sak500 says:

    Your comparison is spot except BD vs HDdvd. As above poster mentioned BD was the more expensive so to speak tech but only won with some studios backing and also sony shoe horning it in PS3. I wish it was HDdvd which won since i am xb360 guy. Anyway, im all for passive as i just bought an almost no-name brand 42″ 3D TV (vinverth) costing 1/3rd the price of Active tv. Since content is so low it’s good enough to watch all the 3d movies one can count on two hands available at the moment and can tie me up till , recently annoucned FULL HD 3D tvs from LG come down in reasonable price. I’ve already moved my previous 42″ full HD panasonic plasma from the living room to bedroom to accomodate the 3D tv.However i dread the day i hv to move my other Full HD 50″ panasonic plamsa for a 50″ Full HD 3D tv as there is no room in the apt for that.

    Yes i hv 2 HD tvs in living room almost side by side one for gaming and other for wifey to watch her progs.

  3. JWK says:

    I find it interesting that no one mentions the fact that you lose something with both active and passive formats. With passive, of course, you lose picture definition (540 vs 1080 vertical resolution), but with active you lose frames per second. This is because active is dividing the frames per second between the two eyes. I am excited about the passive technology because of the cost of the glasses. I want to show 3D content to 30 people or more at a time. That’s a big savings.

    • djsedm says:

      Your points on active and passive resolution and frame rate are well made – and I agree both formats are less than perfect. I find 3D as a whole more of a novelty rather than a primary viewing format. The lower resolution or frame rate is fine for watching an occasional movie or sporting event especially considering the low adoption rate of blu-ray being less than 15%. More than 85% of household still have regular DVD Players (not blue-ray) which of course is only 480p so when viewing passive 3D the lower resolution at 540 is still better than the 480P they’re used to from their regular DVD Player. This 85% of the market is what LG is going for with passive 3D and your exactly right the COST of GLASSES and the price of the 3D capable flat panel are the two factors most people consider when deciding to purchase a 3D capable TV.

      You’re situation is unique having 30 people watching the same screen – WOW! you must have a Big Home Theater Room or perhaps you’re projecting it outside onto a big inflatable screen. In addition to the cost savings of passive 3D on the glasses there is also the consideration of the HASSLE FREE benefit of Passive 3D glasses which do not require battery power or recharging. Many an active shutter 3D viewer has been disappointed when in the middle of the movie the batteries on the active glasses go dead because some one didn’t plug them back in to keep them charged up. Kids are especially forgetful about charging 3D glasses. Then their also the issue of replacing the batteries in the 3D glasses when they eventually fail as well as having to buy a new pair of expensive active 3D glasses because someone didn’t put them away and left them on the couch only to have someone else SIT on them!

      These are all REAL benefits of Passive 3D technology over active – sure it’s not perfect, sure it’s not the highest resolution – but! it is GOOD ENOUGH for most viewers and less expensive to purchase and operate (lower cost of ownership) than Active Shutter 3D Televisions.

      Now that passive 3D TV’s are in stores, Samsung, the largest active shutter 3D panel maker has lowered the pricing of their flat panels and glasses however even with the pricing lowering one electronics retailer told me Passive 3D TV’s are out selling Active 3D flat panels by at least 3 to 1.

      • Gamer Schraeder says:

        I agree with the breaking of glasses and the fact active is expensive as hell but quality is a huge issue with me. I play games almost all the time and so far love love LOVE Active over Passive as gaming on my 59″ Plasma Samsung 3D 1080p HDTV the image I found on the Active (especially when buying a plasma) was much superior. And of course Passive is going to blow away Active, people look at new technology and think wow no batteries… Well they are cheap lol.. And it last forever imo, Active wins no doubt with me, plasma + 3D like wow image x10. Look at the quality difference between LED And Plasma, Plasma has 600hz with a response time of 0.002 on my tv as every LED had MAX 240hz (with lagging issues) and the highest LG is getting with it is 480 in its future (but issues with forcing the tv to its limits.. Issues coming?) Plasma people are like omg burnt pixels and heat to my room or screen burn TAKE CARE OF YOUR STUFF >.< its that simple and with the new tech in plasma that's almost impossible. Constant pixel shift impossible to notice and mines at every minute and auto screen burn protection when left on too long without action… Fact is it has to do with taking care of your stuff, I love Active and I had a deal for both Active and Passive, tested them out plenty of times and still am in love with Active,, Gaming resolution and being able to actually sit where you want without losing your 3D effect Gaming go for Active 110%

      • djsedm says:

        I too like the picture quality better on plasma panels as opposed to LCD. I find the plasma picture to be smoother than LCD. I had a comment recently from a customer who has both a 50″ LG Plasma and 47″ Sony LCD for almost 2 years, the customer told me he likes watching his plasma better and finds he’s eyes get strained or fatigued when watching the LCD for long periods of time.

        You’re also right about the 600Hz refresh rate with Plasma vs 60Hz, 120Hz or 240Hz with LCD/LED, however I must say I’ve never personally experienced motion blur at 120Hz or higher on panels under 52 inches. I have seen motion blur on some 60 inch panels with 60Hz and even one with 120Hz refresh but those were larger 60″ panels. Overall you’re right though the fast the refresh rate the less likely you will see motion blur.

        I find it interesting you prefer Plasma to LCD for gaming and have never experienced Image Burn In on your plasma from heavy gaming. I have seen Image Burn In on a 50″ LG Plasma Panel in less than two weeks of use, not from gaming per say but from an iPod dock on a receiver and onscreen display of the iPod menu and song listing. I have seen image burn in several times with iPod applications and some heavy gaming users, for this reason for our installations I usually recommend LCD/LED for applications where iPod dock on screen displays, gaming and digital signage are the primary uses.

        I’m glad to hear you’ve experience NO Image Burn in with your panel – thanks for your input!

    • Kent McVety says:

      You do not lose frames per second with the active 3d. The frame rate is doubled to 120 per second to accomodate the two images.

  4. hrd says:

    I saw an LG Passive 3D TV demo at BB and was blown away, when the fish from underworld seemed to come out of the screen and float in midair, That is good enough for me! LOL!!!

    • djsedm says:

      Yes the 3D effect from Passive 3D Flat panels is impressive and better than DVD quality which most consumers find Excellent for resolution.
      I believe many manufacturers will be shifting to Passive 3D as soon as the inventory and stock already produced runs out.

      Look for Passive 3D TV’s to be aggressively marketed this fall and especially around Christmas.

      • Edgar Wilde says:

        Actually I can’t agree more Bestbuys’ number 1 selling 3D TV is a Cinema 3D from LG the LW5300. They will be big sellers.

        If you have not had a chance to check one out go down to a store by you can look at the LG LW6500 it is full led and it looks great in 2d and 3d with all those great smart TV features.

      • djsedm says:

        I was just at Costco today, the LG 55LW5300 is there best selling TV also. 55″ Edge Lit LED 3DTV plus 4 Pairs of Passive Glasses and LG 3D Blu-ray player all for under $1500. I hung out at the end of isle display and talked to 12 people while I was there viewing the demo, all were very impressed and at the checkout I saw two customers in line buying the LG 55LW5300.

        By comparison, Samsung’s current model UN55C7000 sells for $2698 and comes with 2 pair of Active shutter glasses with additional pairs selling for $100 bucks! So a Samsung 55″ LED 3D Active Shutter Flat Panel with 4 Pairs of glasses will set you back $2898, $1400 more than the Passive LG 55″ 3D LED TV – Which one would you by?

        Now lets just say you wanted a couple extra pairs of glasses for your friends and company when they come over – LG @ $20 a pair for 4 pairs = $80 dollars
        Samsung @ $100 a pair x 4 = $400

        Gee once again the decision is easy

        Here’s another scenario – one of your kids forgot to plug in your 3D glasses and they go dead while half way through the movie – Bummer, Sucks to be you
        On the other hand the passive 3D glasses do not have to be recharged

        Guess who wins?

        Finally what happens when you kids accidentally sit on the expensive 3D glasses and break them – Opps there goes $100 bucks
        Same scenario with passive glasses – No big deal – just $20 to replace.

        I agree on a straight head to head – pixel count the active shutter 3D with powered glasses is a better picture but just how much better and at what cost?
        For most consumers the Passive 3D is GOOD ENOUGH and most importantly AFFORDABLE and CONVENIENT which is why according to one survey Passive 3D is out selling Active Shutter 3D Televisions 4 to 1.

        Right now LG and Vizio are the only Manufacturers producing passive 3D TV’s – After lack luster 3D sales this Christmas season Sony will jump on the Passive 3D bandwagon we predict at CES 2012 leaving only Samsung and a few other to continue on the Active Shutter 3D Technology.

        The writings on the wall – Passive 3D TV will win the battle and is the next step before we get Glasses Free 3D Panels which ultimately is what we all want!

  5. Barnabee says:

    Bluray NEVER won anything lol…Digital Format…also known as “The Torrenting World” Pwned Bluray and HD-DVD…

  6. Patrick Carolla says:

    I have a 3D TV, LG 47LW6500. First things first, my old TV which was a Samsung plasma 42 ” was pretty good but the 3D sucked. The active shutters gave good picture but the flickering was just too unbearable. My new TV is the ideal TV if you’re into gaming since you don’t have to charge the glasses, i highly recommend my model.

  7. Pingback: Passive 3D TV Are Finally Here!!!!!!!!! - Cheap 3D TV

  8. kirk says:

    awsome tv i checked them all out at best buy and like many others when the fish come out of the LG and touches your nose you ll think the same …compare i was goin for the samsung but i really couldnt see much a difference beside the light comin in on sides and glare from behind me on the glasses …easy tho i got the other glassesther at best buy for the lg that covered more around my eyes they were not cinema glasses they were compatible with lg is wat u should ask for..perfect for pocket save a 1000$v and get the same veiwing.. and perfect for gaming..i go for hours on end and its awesome on blackops … just the glasses i think get the other i preferred if ur picky like me

  9. kirk says:

    AND DO NOT get a plasma for gaming even tho these new tvs have burn in reduction it dont mean much my buddy had one and when the plasma he had got bright u could see the pause menu from a game he owned on xbox360 ….mad man lol…i never have had that problem of course i have lcd and now led tho…. and they r smooth but led is brighter and so is pasive 3d..means alot for gaming i gotta b able to c the zombies good to get level like 55

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  11. F.A. Ming says:

    You will NOT loose any vertical pixel resolution with passive 3D. Sure each eye only receives 540 lines at a time, but these are still the alternating lines of the complete frame. One set taken from the left eye image and one set taken from the right eye image. So the brain is still receiving all 1080 lines of a frame albeit through seperate eyes. Moreover, to enhance the stereoscopic effect and reduce artifacts, the same frame is repeated taking again the alternate lines for each eye, but this time the other way round.
    Please read the excellent article by Dr. Raymond M. Soneira:

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