3-D televisions jump into Canadian market

Allison Hidinger

With the release of 3-D televisions to the Canadian market last Friday, 3-D movie viewing is not just for the theatre anymore.

However, experts say that only time will tell if the home-viewing 3-D market will take off. Despite the skeptics, Candice Hayman from Sony Canada said that she thinks that 3-D televisions are more than just a fad.

“They’re definitely here to stay,” she said.

Sony’s 3-D televisions are currently only available for pre-order, but Samsung models were released to the Canadian market last Friday in Future Shop stores.

A sample model at the Ottawa launch of 3-D televisions

The televisions are very expensive, however, said Hasan Colak, an Ottawa Future Shop employee, and consumers do not seem too keen to purchase them quite yet.

There is a 3-D TV set up in the South Keys store for customers to test out. “Everyone comes and checks it out,” he said, but the store that he works at has yet to sell a 3-D television.

“They all say it’s too expensive,” Colak said. He said that the store has a package available for purchase that includes the television, two adult-sized pairs of 3-D glasses, a Blu-ray player, a cable, and one 3-D movie, for a total of $4,000.

Sony’s 3-D products, which will come to the Canadian market this summer, will cost roughly the same amount.

There are more issues with the new technology than cost alone. Another obstacle which 3-D technology faces is the lack of content available. Future Shop only has 14 movies currently for sale that have 3-D capability, said Colak.

“The content is limited,” admitted Hayman. “It’s going to take some time, but more content is continually becoming available.”

Bill Muirhead, associate provost at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, said the issue of content is a big one. He said he is not sure that providers will be willing to develop content for the 3-D market before the technology is purchased, or that consumers will purchase the technology without the content already available for them.

“It’s a chicken and egg question,” he said.

Muirhead said that there are just too many issues to determine if 3-D television will take off. “The technology is new, the price is high and there’s very little content,” he said. “That makes it difficult to know how to evaluate the value of this proposition.”

Douglas King, a technology professor at Carleton University, said he thinks 3-D television could be the new direction for broadcasters and content providers.

“I think it’s a big game changer,” he said, “I think we’ll see more and more content from the main broadcast industry targeted towards the 3-D market because it gives them a way to compete against Youtube and Internet TV.”

King said he thinks the technology will mainly benefit cable and content providers. “For the consumer, it’s just another new gadget,” he said.

Muirhead had a different take. He said he is still unsure of the impact that 3-D televisions will have. “I think it’s too early to tell,” he said.

Despite opinions such as Muirhead’s, Hayman said that Sony is confident in their product. “We’re invested in 3-D from content creation to the delivery, so it’s definitely not a fad.”

Muirhead said he is not surprised that Sony feels this way. “It’s the only thing Sony’s got. Of course they think it’s the next big thing,” he said, “And it may be, but I’m skeptical at this point.”

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