3D converters

If you're looking to buy a 3D TV, it's useful to understand how 2D to 3D conversion works, and which 2D to 3D converters or 3D TV converters give you the best results. If you can find equipment that gives good 2D to 3D conversion results, then you've got a lower cost alternative to some of the high price 3D TVs currently on the market. Converters have been around for some time and can cost from as little as around $100.

In early 2012 the next wave of television viewing is gearing up to sweep the industry, with Smart TV developments vying with 3D TV for the mantle of most popular for consumers.

3D TV in particular may continue to struggle for mass acceptance - certainly while the need to wear glasses still exists, and until without glasses 3D models arrive at a good quality level. 2D to TV conversion - or more specifically 3D TV converters - might be the solution to anyone wanting an early look at the potential of 3D TV without incurring the full cost of a new set.

2D to 3D TV converters are devices that  use revolutionary new software to convert traditional 2 dimensional video images into the 3 dimensions we're all waiting to see. This stunning development gives you the chance to watch virtually any piece of video footage - from home videos, DVDs, and VHS tapes right through to video games - in real time, high quality 3D.

The alternative to standalone 2D to 3D conversion devices are of course the 3D TVs themselves, with a number of models having built in conversion software.

The recent success of 3D movies like How to Train Your Dragon and Alice in Wonderland has made it plain that the public's appetite for 3D fare has only been hibernating since the form last disappeared from theaters in the 1980s. 3D TV manufacturers and even broadcasting networks are setting the stage for a revolution in home media. Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, LG Electronics, and Toshiba are among the major manufacturers that have all announced new 3D TV models for release in 2010. 3net and ESPN are new 3D TV channels and have gone live with 24 hour 3D content by teaming up with major 3D TV networks.

These new 2D to 3D conversion solutions can take the 2D content currently being broadcast and transform it into eye-popping 3D - a great solution for anyone who has just made the upgrade to HDTV and now might balk at the idea of replacing those expensive HD televisions with another thousand-dollar purchase.

How Does 2D to 3D conversion work for use in 3D TVs?

3D converters are designed to take traditional 2D content and convert it into a polarized anaglyph image, or essentially two images of slightly different perspective and light level superimposed on each other. This takes more processing power than a normal 2D TV or even that a 3D TV takes to display 'made in 3D' content.

Conversion software looks at the content and performs analysis of its shapes and colours, works out what's in the foreground and background, and then creates a map of the images to create two slightly different versions giving the parallax image our eyes need to receive to 'see' in 3D. Of course, the software is so powerful that it completes all of this at super fast speed.

To summarise, what 3D TV conversion software is doing is modifying the depth of field of a 2D image to render it in three dimensions.

Polarized 3D glasses are used to only allow one of these images into each eye, causing the brain to mash them together, creating three dimensions where previously there were only two. This form of three-dimensional translation is relatively simple to create, but it can suffer from a lack of clarity and sharpness. Quick image movements on the screen can also blurring or stuttering.

Virtual FX's new 3D TV converter was the first on the market. A plug and play unit, the Virtual FX converter only requires that television and DVD input be routed through it to create 3D spectacle. There's a great review of the Virtual FX 3D converter at eDimensional.com. The device comes with 4 source presets for the type of content being viewed:

Action 1 - Preset for DVD and VHS movies.

Talk Show - Preset for game shows, sitcoms, and regular TV content.

Action 2 - Preset for outdoor sporting events like baseball.

Music Video - Preset for stage productions, concerts, and other musical content.

Though these presets exist to make the device easy to use, manual adjustment of the image's depth perception is also available. The device includes buttons for the input source (game system, 2D video, etc.) and the output button, which allows the 2D to 3D conversion to be turned off whenever desired. There's even a Phase Adjust option, allowing viewers to choose which eye receives the first image, left or right.

So, you don't have to spend thousands of dollars on a brand new TV, especially if you've just upgraded to a high-definition set. For around $100, you can easily and inexpensively achieve a level of three-dimensional viewing similar to the experience you'll find watching 3D movies in a movie theater. 3D TV converters are extremely easy to install, plugging into TVs like a regular DVD player or VCR.

Keep in mind, however, that 2D to 3D converters often come with only one pair of polarized glasses included. You'll have to buy extras for the rest of the family. Even if extra glasses need to be purchased, 3D converters offer the excitement of 3D content right now

There are a number of 3D TVs which have 2D to 3D conversion capability built in:

Toshiba's unique 3D conversion capability is known as TriVector. It works by using what is known as a Frame Sequential System that changes the refresh rate signals emitted by the TV so that each eye 'sees' a rate of 120Hz, resulting in a superb quality picture. This means you can view 3D photos, play 3D games, or watch 2D TV programming, 2D Blu-ray movies, and personal camcorder movies in 3D.

Trivector uses inbuilt 3D Cross Talk Canceller technology which minimises cross talk ghosting, thus creating the clearest possible 3D images.

Samsung currently house their own 2D to 3D conversion technology in a number of their 3D TVs including all sizes of the Samsung C8000 and C7000 series plasma models plus their C7000, 8000, and 9000 series LED models.  The 2011 Samsung 3D TV range has been announced and includes a first class line of LED 3D TVs and new plasma sets - all with capability to act as 2D to 3D converters.

Current Sony 3D TV models with built in conversion technology are their two LED LCD TVs - the LX900 and HX909 models.

Among the other manufacturers, LG, Toshiba, and Panasonic will reportedly be including 3D conversion capability into their 2011 ranges.

Outside of 3D TVs, Vivitek have taken up the baton by revealing three new 2D to 3D conversion capable projectors at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. These work by taking standard 2D content from a normal DVD player or Blu Ray and converting it using DLP link technology developed by Texas Instruments.