January 29, 2009 With the head of LG Display recently quoted as saying that flat-panel LCD prices have bottomed, the world's electronics manufacturers are looking for the next big thing to keep the coffers ticking over. With a number of companies rolling out various 3D TV technologies over the years, it’s obvious that many think that this will be the next big thing. Panasonic is one such company that has spent a lot of time and money investing in 3DTV and debuted the fruits of its labor - the world’s first 3D Full HD (3DFHD) Plasma Home Theater System - at CEATEC JAPAN 2008 in October 2008 followed by the US debut at CES 2009.

Panasonic’s 3D FHD system comprises a 103-inch Plasma HDTV and a Blu-ray Disc player that plays back Blu-ray Discs onto which 3D video (consisting of left- and right-sided 1080p Full HD images) are recorded. Full HD processing occurs on both the left- and right-sided 3D image in every single process – from recording, playback and display. A special pair of active shutter glasses that work in synchronization with the Plasma HDTV enable the viewer to experience 3D images formed with twice the volume of information as regular full HD images, and enjoy them together with high quality surround sound.

While LCD has taken the upper hand in big screen display sales Panasonic is one manufacturer which has stuck with Plasma and now hopes that persistence will pay off because Plasma is currently “the only TV capable of delivering a 3D Full HD experience due in great part to its ability to refresh at a speed which enables multiple image display without loss of resolution”, according to Panasonic’s Executive Vice President, Bob Perry.

Additionally the use of Blu-ray allowed Panasonic to overcome the previous problem of delivering true High Definition picture quality in 3D due to the lack of bandwidth in transport and the limited capacity of the storage. Previous systems also suffered from reduced vertical resolution caused by a 3D display method that divides the scanning lines between the left and right eyes, and picture quality degradation caused by pixel skipping that results from the squeezing of two (left and right) screens' worth of full HD images into one screen of data capacity for image storage and transmission.

There’s no word on a commercial release date for the system yet, but when it is made available, expect it to have a hefty price tag attached.

Darren Quick