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The smart TV still has potential to revolutionize home entertainment. If you’re unfamiliar with smart TVs What Is a Smart TV & 6 of the Best On The Market Today What Is a Smart TV & 6 of the Best On The Market Today Most televisions you look at now will be smart TVs, but what is a smart TV and which ones are the best on the market right now? Read More , now may be the time for you to catch up and see what you’ve been missing. Now with Smart TV 3D technology, you have even more options to consider.

Long story short, Smart TVs are TVs with built-in Internet capabilities that allow you wider access to media than a traditional TV. But before you go out and buy one to add to your smart home collection How Much Does a Smart Home Really Cost? How Much Does a Smart Home Really Cost? A smart home could change your life – freeing up time in your day and regulating your routine so you don't have to remember what needs to be done. But how expensive is it, really? Read More , there’s one particular smart TV feature for which you need to ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”

That feature is 3D content, which is something that people either love or hate. There’s rarely any middle ground.

So let’s take a look at 3D smart TVs to see if they’re worth the price markup. The results may surprise you.

Everyone Loves 3D Entertainment

Here’s the thing about modern entertainment: up until recently, all films and TV shows were projected in 2D even though we see in 3D. While 2D is certainly easier to capture and produce, the downside is that we lose an important element in the process: depth perception.

Stereoscopic 3D isn’t new technology by any stretch. There are recorded patents from the 1890s that illustrate attempts at 3D imagery using side-by-side projections and a physical device used to converge the two into one. Sounds similar to 3D glasses, doesn’t it?

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But 3D didn’t surge back into popularity until the 21st Century, hitting a climax with films like Avatar (2009), Gravity (2013), and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). It’s around that same time – late 2000s, early 2010s – that smart TVs first hit the market with Samsung leading the charge.

And it wasn’t long after that before smart TVs began incorporating 3D display technology. My own smart TV, which is a few years old at this point, came with a two-pack of 3D glasses Samsung ES6500 40-inch 3D 1080p Smart TV Review and Giveaway Samsung ES6500 40-inch 3D 1080p Smart TV Review and Giveaway Over the past decade or so, there's been a mad rush to purchase the biggest, flattest, and prettiest television you can get in order to show it off to all your friends and neighbors. And... Read More to watch 3D films and TV shows.

But what good is it? Can 3D entertainment at home replicate the experience of 3D in a theater? How many people even use the feature?

3D Smart TVs: Hyped & Hopeful

The biggest source of hype for 3D content came around the time of Avatar, a film that successfully transported audiences to a fantasy world lush enough to seem alive and real even on a traditional 2D screen – but with 3D glasses, it was a brand new experience altogether.

Recapturing that feeling is what 3D smart TVs were meant to do. How much more immersive would the experience be Oculus Rift VR Simulations You Have To See To Believe Oculus Rift VR Simulations You Have To See To Believe You've seen the Oculus Rift, but you haven't seen some of the insane uses it's been put to. Check out these awesome Oculus Rift demos from around the world. Read More  if you could lounge back on your couch, toss on a pair of freely-included 3D glasses, and watch as figures and forms reached out at you through the screen as opposed to the flat nature of traditional TV? In theory, it sounds great.

But it’s about more than just that.

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For one, there were promises made about the future availability of 3D broadcast channels in countries around the world. In 2010, South Korea began broadcasting a SKY 3D channel, while ESPN branched out into ESPN 3D, which provided 3D coverage of live sports. Other networks began dabbling in 3D video-on-demand around the same time.

And then there was the possibility of real-time conversion from 2D to 3D. Only high-end models came with this feature, but the concept was great in theory: the TV itself would alter an incoming 2D broadcast and output a modified version that would appear 3D when wearing the glasses. That way even non-3D channels would benefit from the technology.

All of this seems quite promising, doesn’t it? Which is why 3D smart TV sales climbed throughout 2010 (2.26 million units), 2011 (24.14 million units), and 2012 (41.45 million units). If that isn’t rapid growth, I don’t know what is!

The Reality of 3D Smart TVs

Unfortunately, 3D smart TVs fell short in nearly every single area where big promises were made.

First of all, the real-time conversion feature between 2D and 3D never proved to be as good as it was hyped to be. At best it produces pictures that are somewhat watchable, which is fine for things like live sport feeds, but even then it isn’t much better than watching in straight 2D. But at its worst, 2D-to-3D conversion is a big headache.

So until there’s a big breakthrough, 3D smart TVs suffer from a massive issue: a lack of relevant 3D content 5 Ways To Get 3D Content For Your New 3DTV 5 Ways To Get 3D Content For Your New 3DTV So, lucky you - you got a new 3DTV for Christmas, eh? May I be the first to say, congratulations - you obviously understand that 3D is most certainly not a passing fad, and at... Read More .

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Many of the 3D-specialized broadcast channels have shut off their signals. In 2013, the BBC ended all manner of 3D programming due to low adoption numbers. In the same year, ESPN, DirecTV, and Xfinity all ended their respective 3D channels. No surprise when only 115,000 Americans were tuned into a 3D channel at any given time in 2012.

This means that the only way to get good 3D entertainment is to buy films and shows that are specifically produced with 3D in mind. The problem? 3D is expensive to produce, so it’s often saved for high-action titles that have big budgets to work with, resulting in a dearth of content availability.

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And then there’s the issue of smart TV security risks Smart TVs Are A Growing Security Risk: How Do You Deal With This? Smart TVs Are A Growing Security Risk: How Do You Deal With This? Read More , which is a problem that isn’t directly related to 3D viewing but relevant all the same. Buying a 3D smart TV means you need to be wary of hackers, malware, and spies (peeping through your smart TV camera).

Lastly, you have to wear those silly glasses if you want to watch in 3D. Some may be fine with that, but others – like myself – find those glasses to be both ridiculous and uncomfortable.

Worth It? The Answer Is “No”

Some have gone on record with claims that 3D TV is making a comeback, but I disagree. I think the peak is way behind us and the idea will die within just a few more years. In its current state, the technology just isn’t good enough to warrant the price or hype.

I’ve had my 3D smart TV for over three years now. The day I opened the box is the only day I’ve ever worn those silly 3D glasses, and not a day has gone by where I’ve felt like I’ve missed out.

Do you have a 3D smart TV? If so, how often do you watch 3D content? Is the 3D fad still in its infancy or is it well past its prime? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Image Credits: Stream of 3D Via Shutterstock, Couple Watching 3D Film Via Shutterstock, Smart TV & Remote Via Shutterstock, Group Watching 3D TV Via Shutterstock, 3D Glasses Girl Via Shutterstock

  1. furry_slippers
    February 28, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    I love watching 3D movies at home, however I must agree that there are not enough "channels" even though we were told more were coming. Still do get a few things on 3D format through sky. We watch 3D maybe once a week, either on sky or disc.

  2. Steve
    February 20, 2016 at 5:00 am

    The writer's message is that you shouldn't waste your money for 3D capability. The problem is that you can't buy a particular 4k TV model with or without 3D. For example, I'm considering the highly-rated 4k 65" Samsung 8500. It happens to be a 3D TV, but has so many other great features and specs that I will likely buy it. But that model is not available in non-3D, so I can't choose that model without 3D to save money. I know there are non-3D models available, but they don't have the great ratings of the 8500. So I guess I'll have 3D, even though it's not why I'm buying this model. Hope that makes sense.

  3. NOLO
    November 26, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    I have an LG Cinema 3d TV and A BenQ 3d projector. It is a great feature, but the the lack of quality films is the problem. I plan to upgrade my pc to Nvideas 3d play as a last hope of making my 3d setup worth it. Sometimes the 3d is too subtle, sometimes the 3d effects are over the top and unneeded in movies. Youtube has corny 3d content.

  4. John
    November 15, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    I have an LG 3D tv & I love it. In the 1 year that I've had it I've bought 86 3D movies. I have the type of 3D that uses the same glasses as the movies. Not the shutter glasses, I have the depth set as far out as it will go & I feel like the 3D is as good as the movies 3D for being in my home. I am a huge fan of 3D & I'm a huge fan of 3D in the home. I personally think it's awesome. Unfortunately all the 3D movies aren't released in America like frozen or Noah so I had to get them on eBay. If you like 3D movies then get an LG 3D tv with the glasses that they use in the movie theater.

  5. Jack Gee
    July 12, 2015 at 2:56 am

    I am one of those viewers who does enjoy 3D entertainment. Most of the entertainment I enjoy are documentaries, such as nature, adventure, travel, history. I also developed my own 3D collection, such as my travels to Europe and China. Benefit, I can relived my vacations in 3D vs just plain old flat videos or pictures. Photos in 3D of my family, friends and my travels bring back some reality. As for 3D movies, sometimes I like and other times I don't like depending on content.

  6. Eric Sine
    June 21, 2015 at 9:14 am

    I, for one, enjoy the 3d experience. More so on my TV than at the theaters. A bigger screen dilutes the 3d effects and definition. The "death" of the 3d TV (if it happens), will be due to articles like this. The author of this article readily admits that he hasn't put on those "silly" glasses since day one. I feel the 3d movies have gotten better as we go as a rule. Avatar is no longer the best looking 3d blu-ray out there. How could the author make an educated judgement on this technology after one viewing. Plus, the prices are coming down on 3d tv's due to lack of consumers. That's a good thing. I think one of the biggest reasons some people pass on 3d is having to purchase new equipment (devices) and higher prices for the Blu-ray Discs. As the prices come down to the 2d only counterparts, 3d would provide another option at the same price. Which begs the question....Why wouldn't you buy a 3d TV?

  7. marni
    April 25, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    I reluctantly agree with the author in his conclusion that 3D TV will vanish. Either there's a quantum-leap in realtime conversion technology [unlikely- it seems to be a ferocious technical challenge to synthesize that second viewpoint], or a whole lot more content suddenly appears [and why would content providers spend all that money for a fading format; chickens and eggs]. 3D, ah, we hardly knew ye!

  8. Jack
    April 25, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Depends on your interest. I've the LG55LW5700 smart tv. Love it. Youtube offers 3D video taken by other travellers and I've my own 3D video and 3D still cameras for originals that I take. Documentaries that go on sale at Amazon and Frys has added to my small collection, and I would love for providers to carry 3D documentaries instead of just 3D flicks (Movies that are in 3D, but provide no educational value beyond mindless entertainment.)

  9. James Bruce
    April 24, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    It was mostly too little too late. Some of us were enjoying 3D gaming 15 years ago, and the tech on 3DTV's hasn't change since then. With the advent of VR, the 3DTV is kind of outdated; I have my own virtual 3D cinema now. Smart TVs were dumb to begin with, the 3D aspect is separate.

    Don't get me wrong though – I loved watching 3D movies on my TV, and I loved 3D gaming on my bulky old 24" CRT – but outside of a few blockbusters, the content was sparse and they mostly missed the ball. You can be damn sure I'll be watching Avatar again in 3D though, on my new projector that covers the entire wall ;)

  10. dragonmouth
    April 24, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    When you come right down to it, aren't 3D movies and TV just VR without a bulky headset?

    • James Bruce
      April 24, 2015 at 7:29 pm

      No. VR introduces the element of head tracking, which crosses a crucial threshold of feeling like youre watching a 3d movie, and feeling like you're inside the scene.

  11. David
    April 24, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    If sports were presented in 3D I'd watch it every day. We have 30+ 3D blu-rays which our kids are always asking to watch. I think it adds another dimension (!) to the viewing experience. Would like to see more movie channels show more 3D content but all programs could benefit from the 3D treatment.

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