Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

3-D TV Buying Guide


3-D-ready TVs

When you see a 3-D-ready label, it just means that a TV is 3-D compatible. It will come loaded with all of the input and output ports that allow it to connect to a range of 3-D-capable devices.
When you see a 3-D-ready label, it just means that a TV is 3-D compatible. It will come loaded with all of the input and output ports that allow it to connect to a range of 3-D-capable devices.
Image courtesy Samsung USA

As with all new technologies, 3-D TV specifications and feature lists come loaded with their own lexicon. One of the first phrases you'll hear refers to the TV being "3-D-ready."

Happily, there's nothing complicated about that terminology. It's just fancy marketing lingo that indicates the TV has 3-D capabilities. That's it.

In terms of specifications, some general rules apply to 3-D-ready TVs. Perhaps most important, these TVs -- whether they are LCD or plasma -- have a fast refresh rate, at a minimum of 120 hertz. Refresh rate refers to how fast the TV draws the picture on the screen. A faster rate means there's less chance you'll detect any potentially aggravating flickering, and it makes the 3-D images seem sharper, too.

It also means that the TV has an HDMI port that lets you feed high-definition 3-D to the TV. To achieve full-resolution HD for both of our eyes, the TV needs to adhere to at least the HDMI 1.4 standard. An HDMI port is the input port used for high-definition video, and it connects the TV to, for instance, a 3-D Blu-ray player.

A 3-D-ready sticker also means the TV will be able to handle various 3-D standards. For example, the unit will not only be able to display your awe-inspiring Blu-ray 3-D movies, but also varying resolutions of 3-D programs from other sources. Still, manufacturers take a small and extremely calculated risk by saying a TV is 3-D-ready, because there is no standard format for 3-D content.

There is a possibility that a 2011 3-D TV may not be able to correctly display 3-D formats that emerge a year or two down the road. That fact would infuriate consumers who paid top dollar for a "3-D-ready" TV that doesn't work with the latest and greatest content.

That's something to keep in mind as you shop for your 3-D TV. We'll cover more buying tips next.


More to Explore