Samsung first to mass-produce 3D panels

Things are getting serious when it comes to 3DTV, with pretty much all the big companies showing off 3D-ready TVs at CES. Samsung seems to be beating them all, though, by actually ramping up full production of 40-inch, 46-inch and 55-inch 3D panels. Samsung is producing standard LCD panels as well as LED panels, presumably meaning there will be 3DTVs available for a range of budgets.

The 3D technology at work here uses Active Shutter glasses, rather than the polarisation techniques used for James Cameron’s Avatar and other 3D films at the cinema. The reason for this is that polarised glasses only allow you to see the image at sub-high definition quality, due to the fact that the glasses are filtering half of the image to each eye at a given time.

Systems using Active Shutter glasses are a little more complicated, but allow 3D viewing in full 1080p HD. A screen with a high refresh rate (at least double the 24-frames-per-second 2D films are shown in) displays each frame from the film twice – once from the left eye’s perspective and once from the right eye’s. The Active Shutter glasses literally close off the lens over the right eye when the image appropriate to the left eye is shown, and then vice versa. That little sequence is repeated thousands of time a minute, which means that there can be a visible flickering using this technique.

Fortunately, Samsung has planned to conquer the flicker by offering high refresh rates of 240Hz and an extremely low pixel response time of 4ms (though not as low as Plasma TVs are capable of).

One big reason why Samsung producing 3D panels is good news is that Samsung has been known to supply panels to other TV manufacturers. Previously, Samsung has been known to work with Sony sharing panel technology in their HDTVs, and has also provided the guts for Dell monitors. Two of the other biggest suppliers are Sharp and LG, so when these three all get 3D production in full swing we’ll see all sorts of 3D-ready TVs to go with the advent of 3D Blu-rays.

Samsung quotes research from DisplaySearch that 3D TV sales will pass the million-mark during 2010, and will be selling nearly 10 million units per year by 2012. That’s not unreasonable if we assume that most TVs produced then will have 3D abilities as standard, but as with high definition, the choice of content could take some time to catch up.