3-D TV prices lower, but there's a catch

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 12, 2010 - 4:42 PM

Q I have enjoyed 3-D movies in the theater and am interested in having a 3-D TV at home eventually. The prices still seem kind of high, though, with most of the 50-inch sets I have seen selling for about $2,000. When do you think we will get to the point where you can get a nice 3-D HDTV for less than $1,000?

A We are there already, believe it or not. Samsung has the PN50C490, a 50-inch plasma 3-D HDTV that has a retail price of $1,099 but which can be readily found for less than $1,000 online and in stores.

You are probably wondering, "What's the catch?" The PN50C490 is a 720p TV, and the higher-priced units are 1080p sets. More on that later, as the first consideration is whether you want a 3-D TV now.

If you are considering this set or any other 3-D television, keep in mind that there still isn't much 3-D content to watch yet. It's great to watch those 3-D Blu-rays they use for the demos in the stores, but when you get the TV home you are going to be looking for more.

The Samsung does have a 3-D simulation mode that creates a 3-D image from a 2-D source. The 3-D simulation was surprisingly effective in the brief amount of time I spent checking out the set in a store.

Also, don't forget that you will need 3-D glasses for everyone watching in 3-D, and the glasses sell for about $150 per set. There is a package deal running at the time of this writing where you get two sets of 3-D glasses with the PN50C490 for $969, so if you are interested you might want to act quickly.

The PN50C490 has an excellent picture in both 2-D and 3-D modes, fully up to the quality I expect from Samsung. The 50-inch 1080p Panasonics are superior, but they cost more.

If you are well-heeled and looking for the best set long-term, go for one of the 1080p 3-D sets. If you are looking for a 50-inch TV for less than $1,000, the Samsung is well worth considering. If it was my $1,000, I'd rather have a 50-inch 720p 3-D HDTV than a conventional 50-inch 1080p HDTV. There is no getting around it -- 3-D is fun.

Don't overpay for HDMI

Q Have your thoughts on HDMI cables changed since you last wrote about them? I saw a device recently that required an HDMI cable certified for 10 gigabytes a second, or something like that, and I wondered if that translated to "more expensive."

A My thoughts have not changed at all. You should not waste money on expensive HDMI cables, which are one of the biggest rip-offs in the consumer world. Why spend $40, $80 or even $100 for a single HDMI cable when you can get it for less than $10 each at places such as Amazon.com and Monoprice.com? The high-speed cables you refer to can be found at those prices.

Submit questions and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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