World Cup in 3D, Sony Bravia 3DTV: Our impressions

Posted by Mark Raby

We just got back from a 3D event at Sony's headquarters in New York where we got our first eyes-on look at the company's upcoming line of 3D TVs and one of the flagship broadcasts from ESPN 3D.

We just got back from a 3D event at Sony's headquarters in New York where we got our first eyes-on look at the company's upcoming line of 3D TVs and one of the flagship broadcasts from ESPN 3D.

Currently available through DirecTV, AT&T, and Comcast in the US, ESPN 3D opened its doors earlier this month to correspond to the beginning of the World Cup. An ESPN rep told us they are not able to track how many people are tuning into the dedicated 3D channel at home, but highly positive reception from those who have seen it has been beyond expectations.

Showing off the Brazil Vs. Portugal match, we got to see the XBR-60LX900 Bravia 60" 3D LED TV, which will retail for around $5,000 when it hits stores in just a few weeks. The LX series is the only of Sony's three 3D models that has a 3D transmitter built-in.

The other models, one of which was also on display, require an external transmitter which is sold separately for $50. The transmitter sits on top of the TV to send out the 3D glasses. Just like 3D market leader Samsung, Sony's active shutter glasses will cost $150 per pair. The LX-series TVs will come with two pairs of glasses, as well as a voucher for all of the PS3's 3D-enabled games and a copy of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on Blu-ray 3D.

We noticed that our glasses had sporadic moments of flickering off and on between 3D mode, even when the 3D signal was still being sent. This could have been either the TV itself or the broadcast transmission (it's unlikely it was the glasses), but it was a minor issue. The game itself looked astounding in 3D, especially really deep wide shots of the crowd and field.

Every commercial break is a loop of ESPN's current slate of four 3D commercials: for Toy Story 3, Sony, and Gillette, and an ESPN advert for Sports Center. The network felt it was important for all commercials to be in 3D so as not to jar viewers with constant switching between a 3D and non-3D viewing experience.

ESPN is in talks with other sponsors, which it says have been largely open to the idea of creating 3D TV spots. About 75% of the commercials on ESPN's HD channels are now in HD and the network hopes that companies will slowly evolve into 3D ads as well.

100 events are planned for 3D broadcast through ESPN's new channel over the next year. The World Cup broadcasts are being fed through FIFA's global feed; the first ESPN 3D event to be entirely coordinated through ESPN production and equipment will be the MLB's Home Run Derby on July 13.