News Ticker

Are 3-D phones Disastrous, Dreadful or just Dumb?

Listen to Larry’s 1-minute CBS News segment on 3D phones

For the past few weeks I’ve been using the HTC Evo 3D from Sprint and while it’s a perfectly good phone, the 3D function is silly.  The phone has a rear facing double lens camera that allows you to take stereoscopic or 3D pictures and video.  The screen allows you to view those still or moving images in 3D without having the wear special glasses. This works OK on small screens on phones or hand-held gaming devices (like the Nintendo 3DS) because you can easily position a tiny screen at just the right angle.  It’s not so easy with living room-sized TVs that generally do require 3D glasses.

When using the 3D camera on the HTC you can not only see the final product in 3D but see a 3D preview what you’re shooting in real time.  An HTC promotional web page claims that the “phone sees the world like you do, in 3D,” but that’s not the case. It sees the world in ways that are quite unnatural. What you see on the screen looks a lot different than what you’re seeing with your eyes when you focus on the object rather than the screen. In other words, the 3D images are exaggerated and unnatural.  They look more like a cartoon image of 3 dimensions than the actual world.

And then comes the question of what you can do with those images.  You can’t print them out in 3D and if you send them to someone, they’ll look even more unnatural unless that person happens to be viewing them on another 3D device which, while possible, is not likely. It is possible to connect the phone to a 3D TV set, but 3D TVs are few and far between.

The best part of the HTC 3D experience is the 2D/3D switch on the side of the phone that lets you turn it off .With the switch in the 2D position, the phone has a perfectly good 5 megapixel still and video camera (it’s only 2 megapixels in 3D mode). There is also a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera.

LG is coming out with its own 3D phone called the Thrill 4G. To help promote the phone, wrote CNET, the company is sponsoring a concert featuring rock band Jane’s Addiction and encouraging concert goers to use the Thrill to tape the concert in 3D, “with the footage getting sliced and patched together to create a user-generated 3D video.”  The Thrill will be released by AT&T for $99, according to

What LG is doing, it seems to me, is using a gimmick to promote a gimmick.




Leave a comment