3D TVs: Active Shutter or Passive technology?

A recent buyers-guide type article on TechRadar compared Active Shutter and Passive 3D TV technology to help potential buyers make up their minds.

They found that Active Shutter 3D offered the highest picture quality, but Passive offered cheaper eyewear and a greater likelihood of “best value deals.”

Taking the trade-offs of both technologies into account, TechRadar offered the following basic guidelines:

  • Buy Passive 3D if you plan on buying a 42-inch or smaller TV, the TV will mainly be used for 3D animation movies, and/or you want to invite your friends over to watch sports in 3D.
  • Buy Active Shutter 3D should you want to watch in the highest possible resolution, watch sports on your own, and/or plan on buying a 46-inch or larger TV.

Samsung SA sent out at press statement earlier today giving their views on the Active Shutter vs. Passive debate.

The full press statement (with comparative table) is reproduced below.

There has been much industry debate of late around active and passive type technology in TVs – but when it comes down to it, all the consumer really wants to know is which is better and rightly so. According to a 3D display technology report conducted by DisplaySearch, active shutter 3D TVs take about 98% of the current market, indicative of the high standing that this technology has in the market – and Samsung certainly agree.

Says Corrie Labuschagne, Product and Marketing Manager for TVs at Samsung South Africa; “Active technology will continue to hold a high market share and we believe that this technology will lead us to a future experience that is smart, innovative and essentially out of this world. The biggest difference between these two types of technologies, whose role is to provide 3D effects, is the overall quality of visuals displayed on the TV. This difference, coupled with various other additional aspects, all serve as important criteria for the consumer to understand and note, when looking to purchase a TV.”

Taking a deeper look into each type of technology, the following key differences can be identified:

Active type Passive type
Ergonomically designed 3D glasses used for viewing purposes. Such glasses offer 3D viewing at any angle – therefore offering comfort and ease of use. They require some sort of power to operate which is generally through batteries. Conventionally designed 3D glasses used for viewing purposes. For example, these are the types of glasses handed out at the movies. Such glasses are generally cheaper and do not require power to operate.
Sends out full frames on each eye sequentially, providing original picture quality at the full (100%) resolution. Filters right and left images being viewed by the eyes from a single frame of “patterned” film. This film divides the image into two, halving (50%) the resolution of the picture from its original source.
Operates on a brightness contrast ratio of x2 resulting in efficient backlighting. Operates on half the contrast ratio vs. active technology often resulting in excessive backlighting.
178° vertical viewing angle, allowing for minimal viewing limitations/restrictions from any height or angle. 20° vertical viewing angle, allowing for effect viewing from certain viewing positions.

With projected forecasts of 23.4 million (according to The Guru Review) 3D TV unit shipments for 2011, it is evident that consumers are considering such TVs as a preferred entertainment option. It is therefore crucial that consumers understand the differences in the technologies used to provide such entertainment content, to allow for a solid purchase decision to be made.

“Considering the above, active type technology is certainly the smart choice when it comes to getting the best immersive TV experience possible. It is for this reason that Samsung’s TV range is built upon active type technology, as we are committed to developing products based not only on the best standards, but ones that offer expert quality, are easy to use and are characterised by smart design as well as smart entertainment experiences,” concludes Labuschagne.

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3D TVs: Active Shutter or Passive technology?