Just a few years ago, 3-D television was the next big thing in home entertainment, and sports was the next big thing in 3-D. Now, 3-D is a minor feature in television sets, kind of like automatic dimming or a memory card slot. And 3D sports broadcasts, while catching on in some countries, aren’t common place in the United States. Today’s Super Bowl will not be televised in 3-D; the broadcaster, CBS, is not currently producing any original 3-D programming.

Keeping the Super Bowl a 2-D event makes a certain amount of sense. The Super Bowl is typically viewed in large groups—I’m going to a Super Bowl party today, you may be too. And it can be tough to find the decent 3-D viewing angles for a crowd in a typical living room, though 3-D broadcasts in pubs in the U.K. have worked out just fine.

Just because it's going to be done in 2-D doesn't mean the Super Bowl is a simple broadcast to produce. A regular season game has cameras at fewer than 30 different positions, for today's broadcast CBS will more than double that number, to 62, says Howard Postley, CTO of 3ality Technica, who wrote about the challenges of producing sports broadcasts in 3-D in the November issue of Spectrum.

Meanwhile, true 3-D sports broadcasts on traditional networks seem to be fading away in the United States. ESPN, the network that had pioneered some of the early 3-D sports broadcasts in the U.S., has moved on to what they call 5-D TV. It sounds great, but it’s more like two-and-a-half D; the 3-D camera rigs are used to capture both a 2-D image and a 3-D image, meaning the broadcast cannot necessarily be optimized for 3-D.

“I think 3D channels are destined to go Over the Top,” Postley says, that is, delivered via the Internet instead of through traditional broadcast channels.

Photo: Randy Sagar/ESPN

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Digging Into the New QD-OLED TVs

Formerly rival technologies have come together in Samsung displays

5 min read
Television screen displaying closeup of crystals

Sony's A95K televisions incorporate Samsung's new QD-OLED display technology.

Televisions and computer monitors with QD-OLED displays are now on store shelves. The image quality is—as expected—impressive, with amazing black levels, wide viewing angles, a broad color gamut, and high brightness. The products include:

All these products use display panels manufactured by Samsung but have their own unique display assembly, operating system, and electronics.

I took apart a 55-inch Samsung S95B to learn just how these new displays are put together (destroying it in the process). I found an extremely thin OLED backplane that generates blue light with an equally thin QD color-converting structure that completes the optical stack. I used a UV light source, a microscope, and a spectrometer to learn a lot about how these displays work.

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