Is 3D Sinking or Swimming?

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Is 3D Sinking or Swimming?

Evan Powell, August 7, 2012

We are now over two years into the third wave of 3D in cinema. The first two waves in the 1950's and 1980's died out as fads, but the new generation 3D is (so far) showing solid staying power.

Two years ago in the summer of 2010 we ran a survey asking our readers how important 3D would be to them when buying a new home theater projector. We ran that same survey again last summer and we've just completed a third run of it now.

The follow table shows the proposition statements from the 2010 and 2012 surveys and the percentage of respondents agreeing with each:

3D Reader Survey: 2010 and 2012

    2010 2012 Change
1. 3D is vital - my next projector will have 3D   20.6% 19.2% -1.4
2. 3D is important - it is a major factor in my next purchase    9.5% 10.5% +1.0
3. 3D is interesting - I will consider it along with picture quality, lamp life, and other factors   17.6% 25.0% +7.4
4. 3D is not mature - I'll wait for a later generation of products before considering 3D   18.8% 11.6% -7.2
5. 3D is not very important - not a big factor in buying a projector   10.5% 13.6% +3.1
6. 3D is of no interest - I don't need it in my home theater   23.0% 20.0% -3.0

What do the 3D survey results tell us?

The first thing to notice is that the number of readers who proclaim that 3D is vital to them has slipped a bit from 20.6% in 2010 to 19.2% today. That is not much of a slip, but it does suggest a slight erosion.

On the other hand, those who picked #2 and said 3D was very important to them increased from 9.5% in 2010 to 10.5% in 2012.

When we combine those two categories it is clear that there is a solid core of about 30% of buyers who claim that 3D is either vital or a major factor in their home theater buying decision. In 2010, 30.1% of readers selected either #1 or #2, and this time around 29.7% did so. That difference is statistically insignificant. The most important take away from those numbers is that there has been no noticeable increase in the percentage of readers who express keen interest in 3D, nor has there been any noticeable erosion of interest over the two year period.

The most significant shift in numbers occurred on propositions #3 and #4. These are the readers who do not think of 3D as vital, but who are interested in it to a meaningful degree. Two years ago almost 19% of readers said 3D technology was not mature and they were not yet ready to consider it. Now that number has dropped to 11.6%. Meanwhile, those who say that 3D is interesting and a factor to consider when buying a projector has grown from 17.6% to 25%. These numbers suggest that as 3D technology has matured and the early bugs have been ironed out, many readers who were initially reticent are becoming more interested.

The last two categories, #5 and #6, represent those who have either no interest or minimal interest in 3D. In 2010, those who selected either #5 or #6 represented 33.5% of respondents. This year those who selected those two categories totaled 33.6%, or statistically identical. In 2010, 23% of respondents said 3D was of no interest at all, and now that number has dropped to 20%.


There has been no major shift in reader interest in 3D over the past two years since the introduction of 3D enabled video products for the home. Two years ago, about 1/3 of respondents said they had little or no interest in 3D technology, and that number has not changed. The remaining 2/3 of readers say that 3D is anywhere from vital to at least something worth waiting for. The only measurable shift in reader perception is that many who used to say 3D technology was not yet ready for prime time now believe it has matured to the point where it is ready to consider.

These survey results indicate that solid 3D performance will continue to be a key factor for the success of any home theater projector. Though about 1/3 of buyers don't care about 3D, the majority of buyers do. From our vantage point in the summer of 2012, the drive for optimum 3D performance will be a major competitive battleground issue in the sale of home theater projectors for the foreseeable future.

(04/20/19 - 09:35 PM PST)
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