Yesterday, Panasonic sold its first 3-D HDTVs at Best Buy in New York. For about $3,000, you can get a 50-inch 3-D plasma TV, a 3-D Blu-ray player and one pair of 3-D glasses (additional ones are available for about $150). Just the day before, Samsung announced that it will be selling three versions of 3-D TVs within the month and Sony stated that it will roll out 3-D TVs this June in Japan.
Samsung’s sets will range from $1,699 to $6,999 and it will offer more versions in the spring and summer (some versions are already offered in South Korea). To coincide with the release of its first 3DTVs, Sony plans to release 3-D gaming software, most likely for its Playstation 3 system.
3-D Home Theaters have been available from Mitsubishi since 2007, at prices ranging between $1,500 and $4,200. Mitsubishi has also recently demoed a Nvidia driver that converts PC games in 3-D on its screens.
With so many 3-D TVs on the way, viewers will need something to watch. Satellite TV service DirecTV confirmed that it will offer three 3-D channels in June, while sports network ESPN plans to broadcast the soccer World Cup in June on its new 3-D channel.
The research firm DisplaySearch predicts that 3-D TVs will grow from the 0.2 million units sold in 2009, to over 1.2 million units this year, to 64 million units by 2018, with revenues forecast to reach $22 billion dollars by then. Currently, 3-D TV sets require viewers to wear 3-D glasses, but at some point in the future, consumers may be able to watch 3-D TV glasses-free.