OK this week I finally got down and purchased a 3D TV, and I have to say I’m rather impressed with the results. However, buying a 3D TV has become far from a cheap or simple project, so let me walk you through what I purchased and why I made the selections I did.
TV: VIZIO XVT3D650SV
Active shutter TVs make no sense to me because the glasses they use have to be charged, cost up to $150 a pair, tend to lose sync if you turn your head, and make me look more dorky than I already do (which isn’t easy). However, with passive polarized glasses, while you tend to lose some resolution, they typically cost between $5 and $40 (for designer frames), you can wear them in 3D movie theaters and the designer glasses can actually be nice looking. You pay a premium for a 3D TV, but a passive set just makes more sense, particularly if you have more than two people who want to watch a given 3D show at the same time (Duh, right?)
So I went with the Vizio listed above because it was the biggest passive 3D TV on the market that was at the same time relatively affordable. Amazon had an apparently unopened return for $400 off–or about $3,000–and that is where I started. The puppy is about 100 lbs. so I also paid $299 for in-home installation, and the folks from Service Valet were excellent.
The VIZIO XVT3D650SV has built in Wi-Fi and has applications for Amazon Video on demand, Twitter, Facebook, VUDU, Netflix, Rhapsody, Pandora, and a bunch of other stuff I haven’t fully explored yet. It comes with a Bluetooth remote with a built in keyboard (kind of handy) and, did I mention, it is 65” diagonally? I now have the biggest flat panel TV in my neighborhood. Not that I’m competitive or anything…
But now I needed to watch something in 3D, and that meant a new 3D Blu-ray player, time to decommission my year old LG Blu-ray player as obsolete.
3D Blu-ray Player: Vizio VBR334
I’m a big believer in matched components because, should you run into a problem, you can generally find someone over the phone that can help you solve it. In addition, vendors tend to test their own products with each other (unless you are Microsoft) and there are times when compatibility issues crop up. So the TV led to the Blu-ray player.
Boy, do you remember when a good Blu-Ray player cost upwards of $1,000? The Vizio VBR334 was $183 and I’m rather impressed with one minor exception – the buttons on the remote are incredibly hard to push. But it has a nice solid feel to it, comes with built in Wi-Fi, making network connection a breeze and in glossy black it is just beautiful. Given that Vizio is thought of as a value brand, both of these initial components were impressive to look at and the word “cheap” never entered my mind.
For 3D you need 1.3 or 1.4 certified HDMI cables, and all the cables I currently have are 1.1; two of them (originally purchased from OPPO) were mammoth and had been pulled through the wall. That’s why I went with the premium installation, because it included most of the cabling. The cables I got from Amazon were 25’ BlueRigger high speed, and they came with nylon reinforced insulation which made pulling them through the wall vastly easier than pulling the big rubber insulated OPPO cables out. They only cost $46 for two cables, but then I still needed to replace most of the others.
Receiver: Pioneer VSX-1021-K 7.1
If you want to listen to the sound through your sound system and use HDMI, you need an updated receiver (Vizio makes sound bars but no receivers). My two year old Onkyo was not HDMI 1.3/4 compliant so, given the fact this receiver uses an iPad as a remote, it was my choice. The Pioneer VXS-1021 currently costs about $550 but I’d hoped to have it here for the rest of the installation, so I paid extra for expedited shipping which ate up the rest of my savings on the TV – and it still didn’t make it in time. So this part of the experience will have to wait till later (I just received an update that I may get it tomorrow, not holding my breath). If you are big on Apple products, this receiver is AirPlay compatible.
Total Cost and Experience:
If you’ve been keeping track, I’m right around $4,300 with cables, labor, and the TV/DVD/Receiver. I fired up Clash of Titans in 3D and got ready to watch. Once I figured out that the alert to shift to 3D mode was not coming from the DVD player, but the TV, I was off and running. The depth and picture quality of my setup was impressive, though clearly best in a darkened room. One of my neighbors wondered over and commented on how the TV looks gorgeous in my modern black and stainless steel room. While I’m not looking forward to hooking up the receiver (I hate wiring up all the speakers), my expectation is that it will only improve my experience.
I didn’t see the banding that others have complained about in Passive sets, but then the screen sits 10’ away from where I sit (for a 65” set that is still almost too close) and I’m happy.
Wrapping Up: A new 3D Fan
Granted, if I said I was unhappy, my wife would likely shoot me now, but I am happy with the result. HD programs aren’t overly sharp, but still clearly HD quality, and I’m really enjoying 3D movies (although Clash of Titans likely won’t end up being my favorite). I understand that the Comcast 3D set top boxes are on 3 month backorder, suggesting others are getting excited about 3D as well.
In the end, while I just couldn’t get around the cost and problems with active shutter glasses, this passive shutter Vizio system has impressed me. Suddenly I’m a 3D fan. Go figure, there may be hope for 3D yet.
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