Today JVC and Sony announced new 3D-compatible front projectors at the CEDIA show in Atlanta, while LG showed its 3D model that's been available since June. Here's a quick comparison of their specs and technologies, with some of my thoughts after the break.
JVC: Its three new 3D models, ranging in price from $5,000 to $12,000, all employ active shutter glasses technology to achieve the 3D effect--the same technology used by current 3D TVs. That means they'll work with standard projection screens and require external IR emitters to send the 3D sync signal to the glasses, which are quite expensive ($179 list) and proprietary to JVC. The most-expensive version includes the glasses and the emitter for free.
LG: The CF3D ($14,999) was announced at CES in January and started shipping in June. It's the only one in our comparison to employ passive glasses technology, similar to what's found in most commercial 3D theaters in the U.S. It actually has two separate light engines--requiring six total LCoS panels and two bulbs--that are combined inside the unit to shoot through a single lens.
It requires a special silver screen to handle the polarized light correctly, but one big advantage is that the glasses are cheap. LG includes six pairs with the unit, and compatible circular polarized versions are plentiful, selling for as little as $4/pair online.
Sony: The VPLVW90ES ($10,000) was first announced at the IFA show in Berlin, and seems largely unchanged for the U.S. market. It's similar to the JVC units in many ways, chiefly in its use of active glasses technology; it requires the same $150 glasses used by Sony's 3D LCD TVs, such as the HX909 series, and includes two pairs. Unlike on those TVs or the JVC projectors, the required IR emitter is built into the unit.
My take: My only experience with 3D front projection has been in commercial theaters, all of which used passive 3D. My experiences with active shutter glasses technology used in current 3D TVs has been a mixed bag. I haven't seen any of the above projectors in person, and with my limited 3D flight time I'm no Captain Sullenberger, but nonetheless I'm intrigued by all of these products, especially the passive LG.
All five are capable of producing full HD 1080p to both eyes, as specified, meaning that the 3D on the huge screens they'll illuminate should look as sharp as any flat-panel TV. And size is definitely a good thing, especially with 3D. Judging from the specs, the LG can deliver a brighter image, and thus be capable of filling a bigger screen, than the others. The larger contrast ratios of the active models, for what they're worth, could imply that black levels might be an issue on the LG. I doubt a silver screen can help in that department.
The downsides of 3D in my experience include artifacts, especially crosstalk, and viewer discomfort that intensifies with poor content. All three makers' press releases say their technologies reduce crosstalk, aka ghosting, but since the active glasses are a major contributor to the problem, I'm curious how far passive glasses can go toward solving it. The same goes for discomfort: how much is caused by the rapid shuttering of the active glasses, and how much could be alleviated by going passive? I know one thing: in the theater viewing 3D via passive glasses, crosstalk and discomfort were not issues for me.
Because of priorities that focus on flat-panel TVs, I doubt I'll be subjecting any of these projectors to a thorough review for CNET. But if I were to buy a 3D rig for my house and had money to burn, I'd definitely get a projector. What do you think?