3D TVs Make Best Buy Debut, But Are They Worth It?

Dennis Faas's picture

If you were one of the millions of people who flocked to see Avatar in theatres once, twice, or like some people I know, three times, then chances are you're familiar with the allure of 3D television and movies. Now, big box electronics retailer Best Buy has unveiled a new line of 3D TVs for the home -- but is the investment worth it?

Best Buy recently announced it had reached a deal with TV manufacturer Panasonic Corp. towards selling the Japanese company's first wave of three-dimensional televisions sets.

3D TV: Big Bundle, Big Price Tag

And already Best Buy has announced its first major bundle for the new technology: retailing at a pretty hefty $2,899.99 USD, the package includes a sizeable 50-inch Panasonic Viera plasma (worth $2,499.95), a $399.95 Blu-ray disc player, and one pair of $149.95 special 3D viewing glasses. The bundle is now available through Best Buy's premium Magnolia Home Theater division.

So far, analysts are mixed on whether the technology will make much of a difference -- for common consumers, or for Best Buy. On one hand, Credit Suisse analyst Gary Balter thinks the technology will prove a boon to the retailer. "We were again impressed by the technology and do expect it to be a strong traffic driver for Best Buy in the near term," Balter noted.

However, cost of signing on is substantial. Although the special 3D TVs are not priced extravagantly (compared to most TVs that size), the requirement that a consumer invest in a premium Blu-ray player and special glasses makes the investment a pricey one.

Considering the price and the payoff, BB&T Capital Markets analyst Anthony Chukumba remarked, "3D TV is nice to have. Certainly not a must-have. To me, it is kind of like a cherry on a sundae." (Source: reuters.com)

"I don't necessarily think that 3D TV is going to move the needle a ton for Best Buy in 2010," Chukumba added.

3D TV An Exclusive Deal for Best Buy

For Best Buy, an exclusive deal that allows it to capitalize on a market impressed with recent 3D theatre releases Avatar and Alice in Wonderland is a smart move. "It's important for Best Buy to maintain a positioning as a destination for the greatest and latest consumer technology," noted NPD Group analyst Ross Rubin.

But will it catch on with the average consumer? Will North Americans want to have the Avatar experience every night, in their own homes? Probably not right away, says Best Buy executive Mike Vitelli. That first batch of customers, he says, will be the same group "who bought HD TV 10 years ago. It's an adoption curve." (Source: wsj.com)

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