A new 3-D TV set, and nothing’s on

Panasonic and Samsung have delivered the first models of 3-D TV sets to retail stories, and Sony will release several models soon. As an early adopter who wants to experiment with 3-D, let’s say you buy one.

Now comes the problem: What do you watch?

For most of this year, and much like the early days of HDTV, the answer is: not much. The reviews regarding 3-D TVs are based largely upon a single demo reel of 3-D content — just clips, not even a entire movie. This was the case throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center during the recent NAB Show.

Available 3-D DVDs and Blu-ray Discs weren’t designed for the new crop of 3-D TVs that use active-shutter glasses. Watching these older films on any TV, new or old, will produce a poor 3-D effect.

But what about Blu-ray, which is being sold as 3-D-capable? The answer is the same. Even the first release of James Cameron’s “Avatar,” the driving force behind the current 3-D craze, was in 2-D; the 3-D version of “Avatar” won’t be released until 2011. In fact, there will only be a handful of true TV-ready 3-D movies released on Blu-ray in 2010.

As for broadcast programs, Comcast’s dedicated 3-D channel, which featured the Masters Tournament in April, is now dead air. ESPN and DIRECTV’s dedicated 3-D channel begin in June with limited programming. Verizon’s FiOS 3-D package of unannounced channels is due around Christmas, and Discovery’s 3-D channel is set for launch in 2011.

For those with a 3-D TV, there’s virtually nothing to watch right now. In June, limited programs begin, and the choices will be slim. So make no mistake, when you walk into a Best Buy or other retailer and see the promise of watching 3-D in your living room, those are just promises for the future.