Philadelphia sports fans will get a chance to watch the Summer Olympics on a unique glasses-free 3D set, shared Stream TV Networks CEO Mathu Rajan at this week's CE Line Show in New York.
"We'll be setting up prototype Ultra-D televisions at sports bars in New York, London, Chicago, Los Angelas and of course, Philadelphia," he told me. The "of course" is because Stream TV has corporate headquarters and roots in Philly, though much of the R&D work is done in Eindhoven, the Netherlands at the owned subsidiary SeeCube founded by former Philips engineer Walther Roelen.
At the CE Line Show, Stream TV demonstrated a much improved 42-inch version of its unique "auto-stereoscopic" Ultra-D TV and companion processor/switcher box. Using a combination of special computer algorithims and multi-layered/ultra-thin optical filters affixed to the inside face of the screen, the technology allows a viewer to stand or sit virtually anywhere in front of the set, without wearing special glasses, and still get a sense of depth from content created in 3D - as 200 hours of the Summer Olympics from London will be. Plus, that Ultra-D companion box can turn any 2D content into three-dimensional images, "so we expect the (sports bar) demonstrations will also hold a lot of interest in Eagles season," said Rajan.
At present, the auto-stereoscopic images don't always pop forward as dramatically on an Ultra-D set as you'd get watching a 3D TV with active shutter or polarized glasses, though a scene from the animated "Cars" and a demo piece created for a rival 3D TV maker looked terrific on the Ultra-D. This critical observer could still see a little bit of pixel and line patterning when standing nose-to-nose with the screen, but less than on the prototype Ultra-D sets shown at CES in January, and not at all from a few feet away.
Roelen told me those shortcomings wiill be "totally eliminated" before the product is commercialized at year's end. "The next generation screen filters are almost ready to go. We'll simultaneously upgrade the image resolution from 720p/30 frames per second to 1080p with at least 48 frames per second." All the guts of that external box will be downsized and built into the second generation TV to come out of the Taiwan-based Pegatron factory and be marketed "under a well known brand name," said Rajan. "We won't put our (Stream TV) name on it."
Veteran electronics industry tracker Marge Costello (ceonlinenews.com) said she saw "better auto-stereoscopic 3D from Sony at the recent NAB" (National Association of Broadcasters convention)."But that product still demands you stand in one of three specific spots in front of the set to enjoy the effect. And Sony hasn't announced plans to commercialize it."
Stream TV also demonstrated a prototype ten-inch tablet with an ultra-sharp Ultra-D screen. Rajan said "every maker of tablets and smart phones has been banging on our doors, wanting to see it."
The pricing on the first Ultra-D 42 inch set will be "competitive with premium 3D sets requiring glasses," we heard. But clearly that's a moving target. Gizmo Guy also got wind at CE Line Show of some super blowout TV sales coming this July 4th holiday week - knocking as much as $700 off a retail price - to flush out excess inventories of 2011 leftovers, including some models with 3D.