Men's Life Today: Expert Q+A
I hear this year's Olympics will be broadcast in 3-D. Should I take the plunge and buy a 3-D TV?
From my perspective -- no pun intended -- 3-D TV is a parlor trick, not a paradigm shift. In an IMAX theater, which has the ideal conditions (namely a massive screen), 3-D can be fully immersive. In a home environment, there are just too many strikes against it. You can’t replicate that all-encompassing sensation when you’re on your side on the couch, frosty beverage in hand, watching a TV-sized screen. Furthermore, the 3-D glasses cause headaches for some people, and a small percentage of the population can’t even see the effect.
With that said, there are some features in the newer TVs that will significantly ramp up your two-dimensional viewing experience. First and foremost is a refresh rate of 240 Hz. A standard feature in most 3-D TVs, it comes in some non-3-D models as well. Compared to sets with refresh rates of 60 or 120 Hz, the faster rates greatly enhance the image you see on screen, particularly for the fast-paced action of sporting events.
Sound plays a crucial role in delivering the “you are there” effect too. So be sure you’ve got the ideal speaker setup for your environment. Depending on your space, that can be anything from a 3.1 system (three speakers and a subwoofer) to 9.1, but 5.1 will be the right choice for most homes and HD broadcasts. Just make sure you’ve got the speakers properly situated. Your expensive, high-powered sound blaster can throw around a ton of watts, but it’s all for naught unless you’ve got your speakers in the correct spots. -- As told to Thomas P. Farley