Q The new Panasonic plasma HDTV you recommended is killer. I still have to get some 3-D glasses for it, though, and they're not cheap. Will the glasses ever come down in price?
A In the world of consumer electronics, pretty much everything comes down in price, while, paradoxically, quality and performance go up. The television you just purchased is a prime example. There are exceptions, of course, notably stereo gear such as high-end turntables. But active-shutter 3-D glasses are one area where prices are bound to drop as the technology becomes more widespread.
Active-shutter 3-D glasses are battery powered. They synchronize with your TV to provide a full-resolution image to each eye. The downside is that they are still relatively expensive and bulky, and some users experience flicker when using them.
Panasonic's glasses are the best choice for your set and sell for $120 to $130 per set, lower than the initial price of about $150.
Other companies are starting to sell active-shutter 3-D glasses that are compatible with televisions from major manufacturers. For example, NXG and iTrek have glasses available for as little as $70. Reviewers have said that the optics are not as good as the Panasonic glasses, but they were still found to be acceptable for backup use or to have an extra set around for guests.
There is a dark horse on the 3-D TV horizon. Some manufacturers are introducing televisions that use inexpensive passive glasses, just like the ones you find in the movie theaters. These glasses cost as little as $10.
The downside to televisions compatible with passive glasses is that the resolution is reduced by 50 percent when watching in 3-D mode.
I've seen a few TVs using passive glasses and in smaller screen sizes, such as 32 inches, it seemed OK. Anything 42 inches or bigger starts showing the compromises quickly.
If you want a cheap 3-D fix, passive might work for you. If you want the best 3-D experience, though, you need to get a set that works with active shutter glasses. Just remember that there still isn't a lot of 3-D content yet, so you might want to hold out a bit.Computer-aided stereos
Here's more on computers and stereos, which I wrote about last week:
If you want to use your computer with an analog stereo system, get a miniplug-to-RCA cable and connect the computer's line output or headphone output to any input on the receiver other than the phono input. Download the Remote app for iPad or iPhone, select the input on the receiver and you have a computer music server working through your sound system.
Submit questions and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.