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Yesterday, Sony put together a nice show of its current ‘hot’ CE products, including some new 3D digital cameras, three Blu-ray players, and three 3D LCD TVs.

The cameras were fun to play with, in particular the DSC-WX5 and DSC-TX9 Cyber-shot models. They were a bit complicated to figure out at first, particularly since both use Sony’s iSweep panoramic image mode and are not simply “point and shoot” 3D cameras.

But I was there mainly to take a look at the current 3D Bravia line-up, consisting of the 46-inch KDL-46NX810 ($2,700, September), the 55-inch KDL-55NX810 ($3,700, September), and the 60-inch KDL-60NX810 ($4,700, also September).

Sony's KDL-60NX810 Bravia LCD TV is a looker, and their biggest 3D offering.

These are not inexpensive TVs. The KDL-46NX810 sells for about the same price as Samsung’s equivalent UN46C8000 3D LCD TV. Both use edge-lit LED backlights, both have dynamic local dimming, and both are 240Hz sets.

The main difference is that Sony’s 3D glasses use a single polarizer, and not two like Samsung and Panasonic. There are a couple of reasons why they adopted this approach (and these reasons were explained to me back in June by a non-Sony LCD industry veteran).

First, the single polarizer minimized a flicker problem with European sets that use a 50 Hz picture refresh rate. That’s also the power line frequency in European countries and a ‘beat’ occurred between the TV and ambient room lighting. The second reason was that a single polarizer lets more light energy pass through than two polarizers. (A single polarizing filter has to block 50% of the light – that’s elementary physics.)

The crosstalk problem I referenced in an earlier post was still evident on all three TVs, particularly when bright objects appeared on a medium-toned or dark background. That includes white letters, bright white uniforms, and even the white or light-colored edges of fins on tropical fish. All these demos were seen on the Bravia 3D sets.

Yep, the crosstalk problem is still there. And you only need to tilt the glasses about 15-20 degrees to spot it.

More than one CE industry journalist I spoke to at the showcase has also noticed the crosstalk problem, which can occur with just the slightest tilt of your head to the left or right. And it is VERY distracting when watching 3D content.

In an up-close-and-personal meeting with several Sony executives, I discussed the crosstalk issue at greater length. Suffice it to say that Sony is aware of the problem and is looking into it. I’d expect some sort of solution to appear this fall, hopefully not long after these TVs start shipping.

After all, Sony is branding itself as the expert in 3D from camera to TV, so we should expect a higher level of performance from them. Right?

In the meantime, you might want to wait things out before you buy a Bravia 3D setup. Another option –  I’ve tried the Bit Cauldron (Monster) 3D glasses, which do work with Sony Bravia 3D TVs and use dual polarizers. They are essentially free of crosstalk. But 3D images you watch through them will appear to be dimmer.

Note that Sony does provide different levels of brightness in the TV user menu for their own glasses, but for aftermarket eyewear, you’ll just have to turn up the brightness.

OK, I know this has nothing to do with the Sony story. But I passed this storefront while walking by Rockefeller Center. Put on your anaglyph cyan/red glasses and take a look!

Posted by Pete Putman, August 26, 2010 5:28 PM

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About Pete Putman

Peter Putman is the president of ROAM Consulting L.L.C. His company provides training, marketing communications, and product testing/development services to manufacturers, dealers, and end-users of displays, display interfaces, and related products.

Pete edits and publishes HDTVexpert.com, a Web blog focused on digital TV, HDTV, and display technologies. He is also a columnist for Pro AV magazine, the leading trade publication for commercial AV systems integrators.