Sony Fights 3D Skeptics

The skeptics are wrong about 3D technology, said Sony CEO Howard Stringer, as he unveiled a far-reaching Sony roadmap for 3D "without or without glasses" across TVs, PlayStations, Blu-ray players, displays, movies, camcorders, and more.

Consumers will start to really buy into 3D technology whenever their favorite TV shows start showing up in 3D, he predicted, during a CES press conference.

Stringer contended that if anyone can convert the 3D naysayers, it's Sony, with the company's huge presence in the entertainment, hardware, and software industries.

To help prove this point, Sony brought actors to the stage from the upcoming 3D film The Green Hornet.

Reporters and analysts were asked to keep putting on and taking off 3D glasses to view a series of 3D vignettes, including scenes from Hornet and other 3D flicks, segments from a future 3D ad blitz from Sony, and still shots, taken by Sony staffers, of scenes in Las Vegas snapped with a forthcoming sub-$200 3D videocam.

Sony views a planned 3D Blu-ray player as one transitional step for consumers who want to start experimenting soon with 3D TV, according to Sony execs who spoke at the press event.

Sony will also produce other 3D cameras, such as a higher-end 3D videocam with dual processors and dual sensors.

Hiroshi Yoshioka, executive deputy officer of Sony, pointed to several 3D wide panel displays now under development at Sony, including 56- and 46-inch LCD varieties and a 24.5-inch plasma model.

Sony has no timetable yet for these displays. "But we want you to know they are on the Sony radar," Yoshioka said.

Stringer argued that since it's a 3D world, and not a 2D one, people will start to prefer viewing multimedia images in three dimensions.

He also maintained that Sony has previously prevailed against those "skeptical" of other technologies, such as HDTV and before that, even color TV.

Some might counter, though, that in a tough economy, Sony and other vendors on hand this week seem to be placing very large bets on the proposition that consumers are anywhere near ready yet to pay premium prices for 3D technology.

Several barriers to 3D acceptance have been extensively pointed out, including resistance to 3D glasses, lack of much 3D content so far, and variable image quality.

The issues still linger, at this point. Not all that surprisingly, I heard a bit of audible grumbling among the "industry influencers" in the audience at the Sony press conference around the repeated requests to don 3D specs. Others who were annoyed might not have said so.

While the previews of Hornet and other movies earned deserved claps and cheers for their 3D effects, it frankly wasn't always easy to tell that the photos shot with the under $200 camera were 3D -- as opposed to 2D -- images.

Although more 3D TV shows could help, will this be enough -- in and of itself -- to sell 3D to the general public?

Check out our complete coverage of CES 2011.

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