Toronto - In the heart of the SonyStyle store at Toronto's Eaton Centre, Sony of Canada
reps were bustling around the shiny-black 52-inch LX900 3-D HDTV, the company's first entry in the nascent 3-D high-def market.
This store is only one of two sites where these 3-D-capable TVs are on display in Canada, the other venue at Vancouver's Pacific Mall. A gaggle of media crowded around the LX900 XPR, wearing Sony's special "active" glasses in order to see the lifelike images.
Sony admitted it will launch two versions of 3-D sets in Canada in the summer, before the start of the World Cup in June. They will range in size from 46 to 60 inches. Prices have yet to be announced, too.
Ever since CES, media and the blogosphere has been cheerleading the arrival of 3-D HDTVs as if they're the biggest evolution to home entertainment since the remote control...or the DVD format wars, which only felt like yesterday.
Judging by this journalist's first impression of the 3-D programming available on this Sony unit, the hype is justified. While watching a nature show, I felt like the polar bear was swimming towards me (familiar to those who saw Avatar
in 3-D recently). When I saw a few clips of soccer, I understood the value of ESPN's decision
to launch a 3-D channel in June. A stunning goal looked ever more realistic, the action practically popping off the LCD screen.
The real advantage came when the PlayStation 3 started displaying some scenes from recent video games. To see Little Big Planet, Wipeout and Killshot in 3-D made for some exciting few minutes, even if it was just to imagine the potential of how 3-D gaming could revolutionize the industry.
The showcase touted how home entertainment could elevate to a new era with 3-D HDTVs. But with only ESPN and Discovery announcing 3-D channels, and a limited release of 3-D-capable DVDs, how much content can someone watch when they buy the new 3-D TVs?
Daniel Phillips, the director of LCD TV marketing at Sony of Canada, said it's a challenge to convince broadcasters and cable companies to adopt 3-D programing, but they are encouraged by Hollywood studios increasingly filming in this format. Also, he said Sony allows "2-D to 3-D up-conversion, where the TV takes your traditional programming and create an element of 3-D within it." He warns the up-conversion method doesn't offer top-quality 3-D visuals compared to core 3-D programming.
Another concern is wooing consumers who just upgraded their living room with HDTVs and Blu-ray players. After a journalist asked him why the public should shell out more money for a new TV, Philips believes these people are "looking for a really immersive experience, and this will be a reason for them to say, 'Okay, I just got my high-def television set but perhaps I can put it in the den or bedroom,' because this is real."
So will the early adopters convince the rest of us to go 3-D? This summer will be litmus test for Sony of Canada, and other 3-D HDTV competitors
, when these sets (and their prices) finally are released.