Do I Need Special Glasses to Watch 3D TV?

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3D images use a technology called stereoscopy that creates the illusion of depth. 3D televisions use a form of stereoscopy called Active Technology and require special active liquid crystal "shutter" glasses to show 3D programming. However, 3D televisions are reverse-compatible with 2D content--you don't need special glasses to watch 2D content on a 3D television. Technology is being developed that creates 3D images you can see without glasses, but it's not on the market yet. The "shutter" glasses work by blocking each eye in a sequence synced up to the 3D television--staggering the image and creating the three-dimensional illusion. The old cardboard 3D glasses you may have lying around won't work.

1. Check the 3D television's packaging or packing list to see if glasses are included. You may find a pair in the box that the TV shipped in.

2. Determine the type of glasses that your 3D television needs. There are multiple 3D technologies and no industry-wide standards. A good bet for compatibility is to purchase glasses from the same manufacturer as the television. There are no guarantees a pair of glasses from one manufacturer will work with another. For example, some users have reported that Panasonic's glasses will work with Samsung's 3D televisions, but Samsung's glasses won't with Panasonic's 3D TVs.

3. Look for deals. You may find that it's cheaper to buy two pairs of glasses, along with a 3D movie on disc, as a single package than to buy the three items separately. Samsung has a 3D starter kit available at

4. Decide on power options. The glasses need a power source and use wireless technology to communicate. Rechargeable glasses require plugging in periodically but are cheaper to operate. Battery-operated glasses are more expensive to run but never need wires.

5. Look at the style and build of the glasses. There's no point in buying cheap glasses that look flimsy or don't fit. Check product reviews or handle the glasses to assess whether they seem sturdy or fragile. These glasses can cost over $150, so replacing them is expensive. Watch where you sit.

This story, "Do I Need Special Glasses to Watch 3D TV?" was originally published by PCWorld.

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