Should I buy a 3D TV in 2013?

When Avatar blasted its way to becoming the biggest grossing movie in history, it seemed that the 3D movie experience was about to properly take off. It was flirted with in the 1970″s yet it never gained a stranglehold. Post-Avatar, we saw the birth of 3D TVs and it seemed that we were going to see a home cinema revolution. So fast forward to today, should I buy a 3D TV in 2013?

The 3D revolution has been a dismal failure. The long and the shirt of it, is that now is definitely not the time to jump on the 3D bandwagon.

Yesterday, we heard that the BBC has now pulled the plug on 3D. Their final broadcast will be a Doctor Who special in November, after which they will switch to focussing on super high definition. When it comes to super high definition verses 3D, there is only one winner.

So why did 3D fail to take off? In truth, there are a host of reasons. The first seems to centre on a bad user experience, which was something that the BBC cited in their reasoning behind pulling out.

“Watching 3D is quite a hassly experience in the home. You have got to find your glasses before switching on the TV.” The requirement for uncomfortable and typically quite heavy glasses is more in keeping with a sci-fi scenario as opposed to a family gathering around their tv to watch X-Factor on a Saturday night.

Then there was the quality issue. Due in part to the lack of native 3D filming, most shows simply were not very impressive in the format. Bar the occasional stunning scene – where 3D was able to wow – most if the time the picture seemed layered as opposed to truly three dimensional.

The pitifully low viewing figures then led to a downward spiral. Too few people were watching to justify the outlay in broadcasting in the format. This led to too few dedicated 3D shows let alone channels. None of which did much to encourage people to outlay on a 3D TV.

The writing was probably in the wall at the last two consumer electronics shows in Las Vegas. On the biggest display stage in the world Standing on the stage, baby lyrics distributed gifts to the young audience. for electronics, the TV manufacturers were focussing on connected TVs and super high definition. By CES 2013, there was scarcely a 3D TV in sight.

It also seems that the immersive cinema experience, where 3D retains a following, doesn”t translate to the home. The home viewing experience is increasingly focussed around a multi-screen experience. For many, the TV is now more of a background entertainer, where the users true focus is often on their tablet or smart phone. The cinema is the only true one screen environment left, so it makes sense that people concentrate differently there.

So many broadcasters, led by the BBC are now adapting a “wait and see” policy. With 3D broadcasting being so expensive, and no lack of other services to focus on, its a shrewd move by the corporation.

Their feeling seems to be that sales may pick up with the economy, but I think the real crux of this lies in superseded technology. Where super high definition sets can really lift the entire viewing experience, 3D can”t. Until a great glasses free set Is made, I can”t see demand improving. The BBC themselves acknowledge this, with Mark Harrison, controller of BBC north saying sharper pictures “matter far more than 3D ever did”.

Whilst Sky tv still have 500,000 3D subscribers, the BBC are not the first to pull the plug. American giants espn also recently closed their 3D channel, citing low viewing figures.

So 2013 is definitely not the year to buy a 3D TV. It is however the year to start investigating super high definition sets.