The headline story for television in 2010, 3D is now just another feature you will – for the most part – get for free in any mid-priced and above TV in 2011 if Samsung’s lead is to be followed.

So while 3D is common to 22 of the 41 plasma and LED Smart TVs announced today by the company, it takes a distinct back seat to connected features such as web browsing, IPTV channels, streaming movies and apps.

That’s not to say the technology is standing still, though.

The infrared transmitter that works with Samsung’s active shutter eyewear to create 3D effects is now powered by Bluetooth, which means no interference from other IR devices, less flicker and extremely wide viewing angles, so you can sit wherever you want on the couch. The glasses are lighter  – the premium model just 28 grams – and more comfortable, and able to fit over most prescription glasses.

Eyewear also charges more quickly and lasts longer from a single charge – up to 40 hours. And the topline SSG-3700CR model (which comes with the plasma and LED D8000 models) has a contrast ratio of 1200:1, or four times higher than last year’s models, meaning that images from the screen are much brighter.

Samsung has also implemented technology into its 3D TVs it claims reduces crosstalk – where the two images which make up a three images are easily discerned, destroying the 3D effect – by up to 50 percent on last year’s models, an that the Less Layered Image processing built into many plasma and LED TVs minimises ghosting of 3D images.

Three from two

For when there isn’t any native 3D content to watch – and the dearth of content remains an issue – Samsung ‘Smart TVs’ with 2D to 3D Converter technology turns standard two-dimensional content into 3D. It’s clever jiggery pokery, and with the results being much better than last year’s implementation the the choice of 3D content worth watching is vastly expanded.

You can watch TV or put a standard DVD or Blu-ray disc in a device with 3D conversion capability, for example, and it will generate the extra dimension. It works on regular TV broadcasts, recordings, JPEG images from your USB drive, DivX movies and video game, provided they’re connected over HDMI or component cables.

This conversion ability is also built in to select Samsung home theatre systems and Blu-ray players. Mate one of these to an existing 3D TV and you’ll enjoy the 2D to 3D benefits with the big expense of a television.

Rounding out the 3D story is ‘3D Sound’. Found on select Samsung televisions and home theatre systems, this is claimed to generate a vertical wave of surround sound to complement the one coming straight at you. Something akin to a ‘cone’ of sound, the feature sends soundtracks ‘over the top’, almost as as if you’ve installed speakers somewhere high up near your ceiling.