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Do You Need Special Glasses to Watch 3D TV?

written by: Kumara Velu•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/27/2010

If you’re familiar with watching 3D movies in the cinema, you may be wondering whether you need special glasses to view 3D movies on television, too. Let’s look at the 3D TV glasses available and the cost.

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    Let’s take a look at the two types of glasses that could be used to view 3D movies on television.

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    Anaglyph Glasses

    Also known as red and blue 3D glasses, they have been used for years for 3D movie viewing in cinemas and also for some home video and broadcast TV programs. Two images are displayed on the screen – one red and the other blue. The red filter would only allow a red image to enter one eye and the blue filter allows a blue image to enter the other. The brain then combines these images to give you the illusion of a 3D image.

    These glasses do not offer the complete 3D experience though. You can’t see vivid colors and you only get a limited illusion of 3D imagery. But then the glasses don’t cost you much and prices start from $3 to $16.

    The downside of using these glasses is you may get a headache or end up with eye strain when you use these glasses to view a television program.

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    3D Active Shutter Glasses

    These glasses are in popular use for viewing 3D television. They provide clearer 3D imagery compared to anaglyph glasses. Active shutter glasses are more expensive compared to anaglyph glasses owing to the technology involved. Apart from the liquid crystal lenses, electronic circuitry and infrared technology makes 3D viewing possible.

    To create the 3D effect, the lenses darken and lighten images seen on television with the help of the built-in infrared emitter which syncs with the refresh rate of the images displayed on the television screen.

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    Flickering

    3D Active Shutter glasses are not without their drawbacks though. There’s a tendency for the glasses to flicker. This is accepted as tolerable because the flickering happens in the process of the glasses synching to the television signal to create the 3D illusion. There are ways to reduce the flickering effect though.

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    Workarounds

    Firstly, you should view your 3D programs in a dark room, the darker the better. If that’s not possible, then 3D program viewing should be undertaken at night. Bright light, other than from the television set, will cause noticeable flickering.

    Secondly, you can reduce the picture contrast level on your television to reduce the flickering effect. Alternatively, you could also reduce the color sharpness level of your television set. Setting both the levels to the middle range would go a long way in helping the bothersome flickering effect.

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    Cost

    The glasses cost in the range of $100 and don’t usually come bundled with the purchase of 3D television sets. They can’t be used universally though. If you have 3D shutter glasses for a Sony 3D TV, you can’t use it to view 3D programs over a Samsung 3D TV.

    The glasses are powered by lithium-ion batteries which could last for about 100 hours of viewing. Battery power is only used when the glasses are in sync with your 3D television set.