If you're in the market for a new flat-panel TV, there's a good chance you'll wind up with a 3D set—even if you don't want one.
That's because 3D is a feature, not a new type of TV, and many TV manufacturers have expanded 3D capability into most of their new mainstream and step-up models. Much like the automobile industry's "trim packages"—where you want leather seats but find that option is available only as part of a package with other features, such as deluxe wheels and heated seats—3D capability in TVs is now often bundled with other TV features, such as LED backlights, 240Hz technology, or Internet access. The good news, though, is that the premium for 3D capability is dropping dramatically, so you won't be paying much more for it.
Based on an unofficial assessment of the new-product announcements we've so far seen this year, anywhere from 60 to almost 75 percent of a manufacturer's TV lineup will include 3D capability. For example, 23 of LG Electronics' 31 announced TVs this year will include 3D (74 percent), and 23 of the 37 TVs Sony has so far unveiled this year will have 3D (62 percent of its lineup). Panasonic (70 percent) and Samsung (60 percent) also follow this trend.
While not every manufacturer is plunging this aggressively into 3D, there's an increasing likelihood that unless you're buying a bare-bones set or a TV from a secondary or tertiary brand, you'll be getting 3D capability, even if you don't want it. The benefit, of course, is a future-proofed TV should you become interested in 3D at a later date.
If you're looking for a new TV, let us know whether 3D capability is being packaged along with other features that are more important to you. And if you buy one of these sets, let us know whether you become more interested in 3D once you've tried it on the model you purchased.
LG 2011 TV line-up - with full spec list [Flat Panels HD]
—James K. Willcox