Would you prefer to wait for a 3D TV that doesn't use glasses?

We've heard it before: you like the idea of 3D TV, but you don't fancy the idea of sitting down to watch an evening's entertainment in your living room wearing funny specs.

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And in truth, there are 3D TV systems currently being developed that don't rely on viewers wearing any kind of special eyewear.

But those systems won't be commercially available for at least five to 10 years - and even then, they'll suffer from a number of key drawbacks.

The first is to do with the way that 3D TV works. In order to convince your brain of the illusion of depth in the TV picture, a 3D system has to send slightly different views of the same image to your left and right eyes.

With a glasses-based 3D system, that's pretty straightforward – the glasses help you to control exactly what each eye sees.

With a glass-less system, the TV has to beam the correct image very precisely at each of the viewer's eyes. That makes it absolutely crucial where you sit in front of the screen. When viewed head-on, glass-less systems can work pretty well.

But move a tiny bit to the left or right, or turn your head at an angle, and the 3D effect disappears. Glass-less system can work a lone gamer, but if you want to gather round to watch a film with your family, not everyone will get a decent view.

The other thing you need to know about glass-less systems is that, because of the way they work, they can only show 3D content. So if you're planning to watch ordinary 2D TV, you'll need to get yourself another set.

The active shutter glasses used by Panasonic's 3D TV system are light and comfortable to wear, and are even designed to enable people who use prescription glasses to wear their specs underneath. Soon, customised designer glasses should be available, enabling you to tailor your 3D glasses to suit your tastes.

The system used to sync the glasses with the images on the TV works via infra-red, so as long as you're in sight of the TV screen, it's happy. And with active shutter glasses, you won't have any trouble seeing the screen.

You can enjoy the full 3D effect of your TV from 130-degree viewing angles – so wherever you are in the living room you're in for a treat.

And if you want to leave the specs off and watch programmes in standard 2D, you can – and that's something you'll never be able to do with a glass-less system.

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