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3-D televisions will hit the market this week

Sets to have steep price, battery-operated glasses

NEW YORK – Want to be the first one on your block with a 3-D television? It will cost you about $3,000.

Samsung and Panasonic will start selling 3-D TVs in U.S. stores this week, inaugurating what manufacturers hope is the era of 3-D viewing in the living room. But because the sets require bulky glasses, and there is for now little to watch in the enhanced format, it will take at least a few years for the technology to become mainstream, if that happens at all.

Samsung Electronics Co. announced Tuesday that it is selling two 3-D sets this week. For $3,000, buyers get a 46-inch set, two pairs of glasses and a 3-D Blu-ray player.

Panasonic Corp. has said it will start selling 3-D sets today.

The sales debut comes as moviegoers have shown considerable enthusiasm for the latest wave of 3-D titles in the theater. Last weekend, “Alice in Wonderland” grossed an estimated $116.2 million at the box office, beating the first-weekend receipts of “Avatar,” the winter’s 3-D blockbuster.

Although it’s clear that 3-D sets for the home will appeal to technology and home-theater enthusiasts, it remains to be seen whether other consumers will be enticed to spend at least $500 above the price of a comparably sized standard TV and Blu-ray player.

TV makers hope so, because sets with the last big technological improvement – high definition – have come way down in price, below $500.

One challenge will be that the 3-D effect requires viewers to wear relatively bulky battery-operated glasses that need to be recharged occasionally. They are not like the cheap throwaways that have been used in theaters since the 1950s.

When you’re wearing these 3-D TV glasses, room lights and computer screens may look like they’re flickering, making it difficult to combine 3-D viewing with other household activities. Anyone who’s not wearing the glasses when the set is in 3-D mode will see a blurry screen. (The sets can be used in 2-D mode as well, with no glasses required.)

To give buyers something to watch, Samsung is including a 3-D copy of “Monsters vs. Aliens” on Blu-ray disc with its packages, in a deal with the studio, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. Its CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, said it will convert its “Shrek” movies to 3-D for Samsung TV buyers later this year.


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