If you haven't yet purchased a high definition TV, you're in luck. The HD, 3D TV sets are here.
Samsung and Panasonic have started selling their 3D sets this week while Sony's version hits the market this summer. But if you showed caution in the face of HDTV, it might be prudent to continue that caution. As with any new technology, there are bound to be glitches.
Cheaper flat screen TVs, for example, continue to be the source of constant complaints. One of the most common complaints is with the power supply. Many simply go dead after two or three years of use. Other consumers, like Frank, of Monroe Township, N.J., still have power but no picture.
"I have a Samsung LCD TV, Model LNS4692DX/XAA. With just 2.5 years of use I have audio with no video," Frank told ConsumerAffairs.com. "After looking into the problem on the Internet I came across hundreds of people posting the same problem with the same model number."
Though Samsung draws scores of complaints about its sets, so do most other low-priced manufacturers, including Vizio and Polaroid.
Samsung will employ some of the basic technology in its 3D sets that it uses in its current flat screens; that is, 3D sets will include LED, LCD and plasma screens. What's new is an optional Blu-ray player and upgraded speakers.
Samsung's 3D LED sets include the C7000, C8000, and C9000 series with screen sizes ranging from 40 inches to 65 inches. The cheapest 3D set will cost $2,000 while the top of the line will set you back $7,000. The C7000 series starts shipping right away, while the C8000 and C9000 models won't be available until next month.
Samsung's 3D sets with LCD screens will be available in May, beginning with a 46-inch screen model for $1,700. The 3D plasma TVs range from 50 inches to 63 inches, with prices from $1,800 to $3,800. They also will ship in May.
Samsung's 3D Blu-ray player offers surround sound, high-definition 1080p video playback, and eight speakers. The system will cost $900.
Partnering with Best Buy
Panasonic is partnering exclusively with Best Buy to sell its new line of 3D sets and is leading off with a 3D TV bundle for $2,900. It includes a 50-inch plasma screen set with 3D compatible Blu-ray player and one pair of 3D glasses. The company later plans to roll out 54, 58, and 65 inch versions of the bundle later in the year.
As with any new technology, early adopters may make up the lion's share of the market. For one thing, there is very little 3D content available for viewing, though broadcast networks may adopt 3D more quickly than they did HD. There's also the little issue of trust.
Experience shows that the more complex an appliance is, the more things there are to go wrong. It's hardly ever basic washing machines that break down, for example, it's usually the top of the line, with all types of programmable features, that produce the complaints from consumers.
Judging from the complaints received at ConsumerAffairs.com about TV set manufacturers, is there any reason to believe that 3D sets will perform more reliably than the current generation of flat screens? Most consumers may not want to spend $3,000 or more to find out.