Today Vizio announced a slew of HDTVs that feature passive 3D technology, which the company is calling "Theater 3D." The best-featured of the bunch fall under the company's XVT line of LED-based LCD TVs.
The XVT models include a pair with the Google-TV-equipped Via Plus Internet suite and the already-shipping 65-inch XVT3D650SV. Vizio also announced five other XVT sets, the XVT3D5 models described here.
Passive 3D, which is used in most U.S. theaters, is said by proponents like Vizio to reduce crosstalk (an artifact that appears as a double image) and be more comfortable than active over long viewing sessions (Vizio uses the term "flicker-free"). For their part, expect purveyors of active TVs--nearly all current 3DTVs are use active shutter glasses (more info)--to accuse passive models of not achieving "full 1080p to both eyes." That's technically true; passive 3D in these TVs can only resolve 540 lines at one time to each eye.
Another big advantage of passive 3D is cheaper glasses. Vizio's sets will ship with two to four pairs of unpowered, circular polarized passive glasses, and while pricing for additional sets of specs was not announced, we expect them to cost less than $10 each (compared with $100 or more per pair of active glasses). The TVs will also be compatible with third-party passive glasses.
Vizio says the TVs' passive 3D capability does not impair 2D performance, and all of these models can handle 2D high-def at full 1080p resolution.
All five XVT3D5 sets have the company's standard, Google-free suite of VIA Internet apps, complete with the built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth QWERTY remote found on the 2010 XVT3SV series. Only the three largest, however, employ the full array local dimming LED backlight we liked so much on that model. The two smaller sizes, 32- and 37-inch, get edge-lit LED backlights, and lack the higher refresh rates and dual-band Wi-Fi of the larger models.
Pricing was not announced at the show, and availability was listed as "spring."
Vizio XVT3D5 series features:
- Full-array LED backlight with local dimming (42-inch and higher)
- Passive 3D compatible
- 480Hz refresh rate (240Hz on 32 and 37-inch)
- Via Internet Apps
- Built-in Wi-Fi connection (dual-band on 32- and 37-inch)
- Bluetooth QWERTY remote
Vizio XVT3D5 series models:
- Vizio XVT3D325KP: 32-inch
- Vizio XVT3D375KP: 37-inch
- Vizio XVT3D425KP: 42-inch
- Vizio XVT3D475SP: 47-inch
- Vizio XVT3D555SP: 55-inch
Editor's take: I haven't had a chance to thoroughly test it, but in brief demos of preproduction units, I found that the passive 3D effect on the TVs worked well, albeit more subject to off-angle issues than active. I'll be curious to see for myself how much the lower resolution actually affects perceived sharpness at normal viewing distances. If my experience with 2D is any indication, the lower resolution--half of the vertical lines of 1080, or 540--might not even be visible to viewers seated far enough from the screen. With 2D sources I expect the full-array local dimming sizes in this series to be among the better-performing LED-based LCDs of 2011, if last year's XVT3SV series is any indication.