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Firm Predicts 3DTV Sales This Year of 4 Million

DUNSTABLE, BEDFORSHIRE, U.K.: The folks at Futuresource expect global sales of 3DTVs to exceed 4 million this year. The number is the most aggressive prediction yet for stereoscopic television sets. Around 1.2 million 3DTVs will be sold across Western Europe, Futuresource said. The number is expected to reach more than 3 million in the region next year. U.S. sales are expected to exceed 5 million in 2011.

“3DTV will continue to provide ‘premium brand’ CE manufacturers with a way to differentiate themselves from the competition and add value for consumers,” said Bill Foster of Futuresorce. “For systems that use active glasses technology, manufacturers are now able to embed 3D chipsets at a relatively low cost, allowing them to increase their margins while still keeping 3D affordable. Passive glasses technology, as used in cinemas, is still more expensive to produce for the home and will remain costly for some time, as the TV requires a polarized screen. In addition, passive systems are unable to show 3D in full 1080p, as the picture on the screen is polarized, with half the image delivered to the left eye and half to the right.”

The firm predicted that 3D capability will increasingly be integrated into TV sets along with other features like connectivity, Web services and energy efficiency.

“Toshiba’s announcement about its autostereoscopic 3DTVs, combined with a number of optimistic predictions across the industry, may be discouraging some consumers from investing in the current generation of 3DTV,” Foster said. “However, Futuresource research shows that autostereoscopic technologies are at least four years away from a large screen solution for the home, and it will likely be a few years beyond this before sets reach mass-market pricing.”

Futuresource said smaller autostereoscopic 3D devices are commercially viable as they are viewed close-up by a single person. The highest profile device to be announced so far is without doubt the Nintendo 3DS, due for launch in early 2011 and featuring a 3.53-inch display, but the developers of these small displays readily admit that scaling to larger sizes for a living room environment presents a significant technical challenge. --Deborah D. McAdams