Toshiba Brings Glasses-Free 3D HDTV to Home Market

Dennis Faas's picture

Toshiba has unveiled the first commercial television set that allows viewers to see three-dimensional pictures without the need to wear special glasses. But the set is very pricy and comes in two relatively small sizes.

Other manufacturers have produced 3D sets that work without glasses before, but only to show off the idea: these will be the first available for the public to buy.

3D HTDV Sans Glasses: Big Price, Small Screens

The Japanese will be the first to get an opportunity to buy the Toshiba Regza GL1, and should be available there before the end of this year in 12- and 20-inch models.

Toshiba is leaving it to retailers to decide how much to charge, though one estimate suggests sticker price of the equivalent of US $1,440 and $2,880 respectively.

The company admits that neither the price nor the size is really marketable on a large scale and it's more about showing what can be achieved (and being first in the race) than producing something that will sell well. (Source:

56" 3D HDTV Demonstrated

Toshiba recently showed off a 56 inch model just last week at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC), though the enormous cost will make it a demonstration model that won't be produced in bulk any time soon.

The 20-inch model will have a 3D resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels, or 720p -- otherwise known as low-end high-definition television. Viewers are advised to sit around 90 centimeters (around three feet) away from the screen for best results, but the 3D image should be viewable at a wide range of angles, meaning several viewers could watch from the same couch.

Of course, the distance and range should increase as and when larger screen sizes are available. (Source:

Nine Layers + Two Eyes + One Lens = Three Dimensions

The way the 3D picture works is relatively simple. The TV set breaks the picture down into nine layers (front to back). The screen then uses a lenticular lens that, rather than letting all light straight through, filters out some of the light behind it depending on the precise viewing angle.

This means that as the viewer changes position or shifts their eyes about, they'll see a different combination of the nine layers, creating the illusion of depth in the picture. It should also mean a more pleasurable viewing experience, as users won't have to fix their gaze on specific points: indeed, normal eye movement is the key to the effect.

3D HDTV Technology Comes from Game Consoles

Toshiba has used technology from two different games consoles in making the new set. The picture will be processed by a chip based on those found in the PlayStation 3 console, which effectively creates a complex high-definition image from scratch for every frame.

Meanwhile, the technology for showing the 3D picture is said to be based on that used in the upcoming Nintendo 3DS handheld console.

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