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Best Buy Begins Selling Panasonic 3D Sets

Starting today (March 10), Panasonic plans to begin offering some of its early 3DTV sets for sale in America in a new (and apparently exclusive) partnership with Best Buy.

Best Buy has indicated it will roll out the 3D merchandise in a little less than one-third of its 1,000 U.S. outlets now, and expand to virtually all its stores by the end of 2010. Many of its outlets will carry displays in set-off areas (similar to its current HD viewing and surround-sound audio rooms) to help promote sales of the units, according to Crunchgear.

To say the 3DTV sets are for "early adopters" is almost an understatement—considering the fact there is virtually no 3D content available yet for viewing either via cable or Blu-ray Disc, or even online. Some cable content will become available within weeks, however, with ESPN and a handful of other content providers (with the exception of broadcasters) planning to launch 3D channels.

Early adopters of 3DTV will pay price points about twice the going rate for regular large-screen 1080p units right now, at least to begin with (i.e., a 50-inch panel will reportedly be in the $2,500 range). These early 3D models will not have Internet access.

Panasonic's goal is to sell about half a million 3DTV sets in America in this fiscal year, even though the widespread adoption of the new technology for the living rooms remains a big question mark.

Meanwhile at the theater level, the top two-grossing films in circulation owe 3D (and to a lesser degree, IMAX) technology for much of their success. While "Avatar" has passed the $700 million threshold in America and become the highest-grossing film of all time, last weekend's premiere of Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" broke box office records for a non-sequel opening weekend—taking in more than $116 million domestically in its first 72 hours.