How much extra for 3D in a TV?

Obviously buying a 3D TV is a more expensive proposition than buying a regular 2D one. But how much is the difference? That’s important in judging whether it’s worthwhile.

Assessing the premium charged for 3D TVs is difficult when models don’t necessarily offer the same performance and feature set, 3D aside. Well, that at least is the case for most brands, but we’ll come back to one brand that is directly comparable in a moment.

So what is the difference between a 3D TV and a regular one? The former requires three additional elements, at least as presently implemented. First, it needs to have 3D processing built-in. That is, the electronics need to be able to handle the ‘frame packed’ format from Blu-ray 3D, or the side-by-side 3D broadcast format, split up the left and right eye images appropriately, and then flash them up on the screen.

Second, the 3D TV needs eyewear that allows each of your eyes to see only the images intended for it as the TV flashes them.

Finally, it need an infrared transmitter in the TV to send a synchronisation signals to the glasses to make sure they flash perfectly in time with the images on the screen.

The 3D version of Panasonic’s 50 inch VT20A is 57 percent more expensive than the 2D model.

Sony includes only the first of these in most of its 3D TVs. The other two are optional extras (the transmitter plugs into a special socket on the TV). One set of glasses and the transmitter costs just $168, so it doesn’t seem an expensive proposition … except that this doesn’t account for the processing element.

So to get an overall figure, we turn to Panasonic. It has several V20A 2D models, and VT20A 3D models that seem to be otherwise almost identical. The 50 inch versions are the same size and other than 3D have the same features, except that the 3D version, perhaps fittingly, gets three speakers and 30 watts, rather than 2 speakers and 20 watts.

The price difference? $1200. The 3D version cost $3299 while the 2D version costs $2099, the difference representing a 57 percent premium.

The 54 inch (137cm) versions share the same differences, but the pricing discrepancy increases to $1400, with the 3D version costing 54 percent more than the 2D’s $2599.

Worth it? That’s for you to judge.