A primary benefit to passive 3D technology is that these sets can use inexpensive, lightweight 3D glasses that feel much like conventional sunglasses. By contrast, active 3D TVs require users to wear bulkier, battery-powered active shutter glasses, which are typically less comfortable and, at about $150 per pair, significantly more costly.
LG's first passive 3D TVs—47- and 55-inch 120Hz sets in the Infinia LW5600 series—are just now hitting stores. There's also an LW6500 series, which adds 240Hz technology and a larger 65-inch screen size, which will arrive later. The good news for consumers is that most passive 3D TVs come with four pairs of polarized glasses.
Later this fall, LG will be using its new Nano LED backlight technology in the newer passive Cinema 3D LCD TVs. While most of the early passive LCD 3D TV announcements have been for sets that use edge LED backlights, LG's Nano technology employs a film with nano- (micro-) size dots across the entire LCD panel in front of a full-array LED backlight. As a result, LG claims, the TVs can produce a brighter picture with better uniformity across the entire screen. The technology was first announced as part of an upcoming flagship LEX8-series LCD TVs, which were initially slated to use active 3D technology.
In a statement sent to Consumer Reports, LG Electronics confirmed the LCD switch, saying it had "adjusted the new product portfolio to reflect feedback from partners and consumers who clearly prefer our next-generation 'Cinema 3D' technology." The company said that specific product details will be announced closer to the official launch of the new models in the third quarter.
Also, according to a report by the Reuters news agency, LG Display is in talks to supply Sony, which along with Panasonic and Sharp has so far backed active 3D technology exclusively, with passive 3D TV panels.
Consumer Reports recently tested the first passive 3D TV on the market, a 65-inch "Theater 3D" set from Vizio. While we liked being able to wear the passive polarized glasses, and the set's bright picture and minimal ghosting, we did notice interlaced-like image effects, such as jaggies and moiré, plus a loss of picture detail due to the TV's reduced resolution.
If you're in the market for a 3D TV, let us know which 3D technology you prefer, and why. We're looking forward to testing more models of both types in the near future.
—James K. Willcox