Frame sequential 3D performs well in market

Frame sequential 3D technology with active shutter glasses will take up a 98 percent market share of the 3D TV space in 2010, according to a report by DisplaySearch.

In its 3D Display Technology and Market Forecast report, the analyst company said it had been more than seven months since Samsung released its first 3D LCD TV. At the time the company forecast that it would sell more than 2 million 3D TVs in 2010, while Sony and Panasoni projected similar ambitions.

According to DisplaySearch, so far these, and other tier-one brands have adopted frame sequential (120 Hz or 240 Hz) as the main 3D TV technology.

Polariser filter (or retarder) 3D is also on the up despite currently being rare on the market.

AUO released its 65” 3D polariser filter panel in China this September, and Changhong and TCL will use it to make their high-end 3D TVs. DisplaySearch isn’t convinced that this it will grab considerable market share from frame sequential 3D in 2011. “It’s possible but not likely,” it said in its report.

The difference between the two technologies is that polariser filter requires lighter and simpler glasses, but frame sequential with active shutter glasses can deliver 1080p, which is the goal for Blu-ray 3D. Polariser filter panel makers claim that their technology has less crosstalk and better brightness than frame sequential with active shutter glasses.

Retail pricing is a vital factor for consumers in 3D technology.  “TV brands always expect new features to sell at a premium, but this depends on consumer recognition, acceptance and budget,” DisplaySearch said. 

It referenced a NPD Snapshot Report, which found that the average budget for 3D technology was only $87.20. “This is an acceptable premium for consumers, but a long way from the actual market scenario right now,” it said.

DisplaySearch gave a few examples, citing the price gap between the Samsung C6 (120 Hz and 2D) and C7 (240 Hz and 3D) series, which was around $500.

“No matter if the TVs are frame sequential or polarizer filter, the point is whether these technologies can satisfy consumer expectations and make 3D TVs mainstream instead of a high-end or branding feature,” DisplaySearch added.

And prices will vary depending on the technology. Frame sequential 240 Hz 3D bundled with one pair of active shutter glasses is estimated to add $70-80 compared to 60 Hz 2D. This cost however, is flat for increasing panel size.

However, the cost for polarizer filter rapidly increase the cost for 65 inches because of the larger panel area and poorer yield rate compensation. If a consumer goes for a 42 inch then these prices are said to be more cost competitive. Frame sequential on the other hand is more cost competitive when the TV size is above 42 inches.

The company said the estimates raise some interesting questions. Firstly if 1080p support is not absolutely critical for 3D TV to succeed with consumers, 32 inches could be a good start for polarizer filter because it makes 3D TV more affordable. However, larger sizes are probably more suitable for 3D content shown to consumers.

The company also queried how the lower cost adders for for 55 inch or 65 inch,  for polarizer filter compete with frame sequential in the near future. It concluded that lowering cost depends on yield rate and volume.

“Although active shutter glass is not comfortable, frame sequential is more likely to cost down and shrink the retail price gap soon for 3D TVs.

 “It does not look promising for polarizer filter 3D, but we think it is too early to judge the future of these two technologies. The lack of attractive and available 3D content is probably more important. If TV brands supporting polarizer filter technology can offer good content and user experience, 1080p may not be an issue and the lighter glasses will make consumers feel more comfortable and willing to purchase 3D TVs,” the report explained.

 The company also said that brands supporting frame sequential understand the technology’s weaknesses -crosstalk can be improved but the heavy glasses would be difficult. It added that the reason to select this technology was to combine frame rate conversion with 3D to further lower cost and push 3D from a branding feature in 2010 to mainstream in 2011.

“We expect frame sequential will dominate in 2011 but polarizer filter will take some share, too. More 3D broadcasting and affordable glasses will appeal to consumers who hate a heavy burden on their heads. In the long run, however, both technologies will be replaced by auto-stereoscopic 3D,” it concluded.