Samsung UE55C9000 LCD TV review

Can a TV really be worth £5,000?

Image quality: 9/10
Features: 9/10
Design: 10/10
Value: 6/10
Overall Rating: 8/10

There’s no doubt that Samsung is the dominant force in televisions these days, thanks to its seemingly relentless ability to produce quality TVs at truly affordable price points. Scary stuff for the competition. However, it does not have much cache as a truly high-end brand. Enter the Samsung UE55C9000, which has clearly been designed as a cost-no-object statement TV. When this TV was first released last year, the official RRP was an eye watering £7,000, but now it’s been out for a while it can be had for a mere, £4,500 on most online sites, and just £4,000 on one. So a right royal bargain then.

But cripes – that’s still a lot of money. Can anything Samsung come up with justify that figure? As a starting point it’s a healthy 55in, which makes it more than most rooms would be able or willing to accommodate. If you can deal with it though, its huge diagonal width can be offset against its depth – a mere 7.98mm – which is truly amazing when you see it in the metal. This is achieved through the use of edge LED dimming. The metal also impressive hands on, with a super classy aluminium finish.

As it’s so outrageously skinny, there’s simply no space for connections on the rear so all ports are moved to the base. The advantage of this base is that it provides a bit more room for speakers than your average flat TV, enabling a greater depth and base to the sound. A TV like this certainly deserves a full surround set, and indeed Samsung offers a matching set, but if you don’t want to turn on your amp than at least you have some half decent sound.

Round the back you’ll find a decent four HDMI ports, the first of which is Audio Return Channel capable so you can send audio that comes direct to the TV to an external amp via a single compatible HDMI cable.

You’ll also find a LAN connection, as the TV naturally features Samsung’s @Internet TV services – which are fine if you like that sort of thing on your TV. To be honest, I’ve not touched them once since I first checked them out, but if you are a LoveFilm streaming fan you won’t mind that you can access it directly.

Other connectivity includes a Freeview HD tuner, but as this hasn’t yet reached the airwaves round my house I couldn’t test it.

Sky HD though looks fantastic on this set, with punchy colours and bags of detail.Dynamic mode of course needs to be avoided but the standard and movie modes are ideal for watching in bright and dark environments respectively and both can be improved further by running through some standard calibration discs.

One thing we noticed was that enabling the LED Motion Plus feature, made the image a tad darker, so you’ll have to calibrate again if you turn it on again. Motion performance on this screen is of a generally high standard. The Motion Plus settings are certainly necessary however to keep images smooth and we did notice some image break up when this was turned off.

Gamers will want to switch to Game mode, as this disables all image processing in order to reduce input lag and increase responsiveness

Watching from a fine source such as the Oppo BDP-93EU, and you’ll find images to be vivid and fantastically clear, and vivid. The TV will cope with 24p content on discs and players that support it, which will help to remove image judder.

Black levels are of course crucial to make a cinematic picture and we found these to be pleasingly the right side of dark. Dark tones levels can be set within the menus to help with this, as while LCDs are generally brighter than plasma we’d still want to keep the lights down for proper movie watching, in order to get the most from the picture.

Images are helped by a smooth even grey scale ensuing detail is retained in the darker areas. The colours are excellent – managing to be intense without overdoing it – as long as the aforementioned Dynamic mode is avoided.

Naturally, the Samsung UE55C9000 is 3D capable and one pair (yes, one pair, how stingy), comes in the box. It’s of the active variety, so the glasses contain an LCD over each eye that opens and shuts in sync with the images transmitted by the TV and this method means that you get full high definition 1080p images sent to each eye.

3D was noticeably brighter than it I’ve seen from Panasonic TVs and even Samsung’s own plasmas and with a huge 55in display 3D images are suitably immersive. Playing back Ice Age 3 and Avatar in 3D, there’s a pleasing sense of depth to the picture. However, there’s a problem – and yes, it’s crosstalk. This is the phenomenon where images from the left and right eye overlap. It makes for a slightly blurry, less sharp 3D experience than I would have liked, and for this sort of money, it’s a little disappointing.

So does the picture quality justify spending between £4,500 and £5,000 on a TV. The simple answer is no of course not. You can certainly get similar image quality for around £2,000 and Panasonic’s VT30 series due later this year will also have a 55in option.

So where does all the money go? Part of it is lavished on the oh-so-thin design, which has to be seen, or if you’re looking at the TV side on, practically not seen to be believed. There’s the impressive speaker and connection base and then finally, there’s the remote control. Frankly this is a ridiculous object – it’s touch screen and laden with icons, and at first you’ll be impressed by its whizzyness. But the layout is baffling and its unresponsive to the touch and to add insult to injury it’s battery last no time at all, so when you pick it up to use it it’s dead. It’s a stupendous waste of money. Samsung should junk it, lower the cost and put development time into creating a control system for iOS and Android devices that work over Wi-Fi. Sort it out Samsung.

If you do have a dead battery you might have cause to use the of-sexy control panel. While most TVs have buttons that run along the bottom of the bezel or along the side, the UE55C9000 has a slick control panel that slides out of the front of the base when you place your hand near it. It’s seriously cool and a little but Bang and Olufson.

It can also be seriously annoying. I tried to place my Wii remote sensor in front of the TV speaker base, only to find that every time I put the sensor there, the control panel would slide out, pushing it forward and onto the floor. Annoying and amusing at the same time, depending on your mood.

Verdict:

What we have here is a fabulous TV that’s clearly overkill for all but the terminally in need to show off. The design is stunning – a sliver thin, hang-on-the-wall set that sci-fi dreams were made of just a few short years ago. Feature wise it’s loaded, with Smart TV functions such as LoveFilm streaming and DLNA streaming. Image quality wise, we’d say only the high-end Panasonic VT series has an edge over it, and overall it’s a fantastic, stunning picture, great for regular TV and magnificent with Blu-ray and games.

However, it’s clearly a design statement from Samsung, and for all but the most cash rich, there’s no sensible reason to spend this much. We’d drop down to the Samsung 8000 series and if you’re prepared to put up with a bit of bulk go for a Panasonic plasma instead.

Samsung PS50C6900 Plasma 3DTV review

Price: £999
Rating: 8/10

Specifications:
Type: Plasma
Screen size: 50in
Native Resolution: 1,920 x 1,080
Connectivity: 4x HDMI, SCART, DVI, 2 x USB, Optical out
Weight: 292.Kg
Size: Set Size (with stand): 1211 x 808.5 x 277mm, 1211 x 749 x 35.9mm
Audio: 2 x 10W speakers
Features: Internet @TV, Wi-Fi (optional accessory)
Tuners: Freeview HD

Pros: Big screen 3D thrills that’s attractively priced and styled.
Cons: Black level not the best, image retention issues.

There’s no doubt that 3DTV is the flavour of the month right now, but for the unbelievers, there are several arguments against it. One of these is price, with many unwilling to fork out over the odds for the honour of wearing specs to watch TV. Samsung’s PS50C6900 however pretty much blows that out of the water, as the online price of less than £1,000 is ground breaking for a 3D capable 50in display.

The reason this is possible is down in no small part to the fact that the PS50C6900 is a plasma display, rather than an LED backlit LCD screen. This is no small irony seeing as Samsung is one of the biggest proponents of LCD screens, and has a raft of high-end offerings in that regard, along with some high-end prices to go with them.

Despite its budget price though, the PS50C6900 does not skimp on features, offering a Freeview HD tuner, online features, DLNA file playback and a Freeview HD tuner as well as 2D to 3D conversion trickery.

When you consider that Panasonic’s TX-P50VT20 will cost you several hundreds of pounds more on the online high street it’s clear that this display, if it’s any good, could be something of a bargain.

In terms of styling, it’s reassuring to find that the PS50C6900 gives little away to its LED based brethren. Its grey bezel may not be wafer thin, but it’s placed inside a clear plastic frame that adds style, as does the brushed silver stand and the clear plastic stand pillar, which enables it to be rotated side to side. This is good news as if you are going to place 50 inches of TV in your living room it might as well be attractive to look at. And while it’s not as wafer thin as Samsung’s top end LED TVs the depth of just 3.6cm is not exactly chunky, and does mean adaptors are required for some of the connections.

The four HDMI 1.4 HDMI ports are naturally built-in and one of these is audio return compatible, so you can feed audio obtained via the Freeview HD tuner directly to an amp, though a digital optical out is available too.

A VGA PC connection is also built-in but Component and SCART require the use of supplied adaptors. A Freeview HD tuner is integrated and is accompanied by a CAM module and you’ll also find an analogue line-in and headphone socket. Finally you can hook up via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, but the latter only by way of an additional adaptor that’s not supplied.

The remote is a decent chunky affair with sensibly sized and clearly labelled buttons and can be backlit with a press of a button at the top. Usefully, it offers a button to directly activate 3D mode, which means no having to delve into numerous menus, as you do on Panasonic plasmas. While the TV can automatically detect 3D input from the likes of a PS3, it needs to be manually put into ‘side-by-side’ 3D mode when fed 3D from a Sky HD box.

One set of 3D glasses is supplied in the box, which isn’t too surprising considering the price, but at least the prices of additional pairs are coming down, and are now hitting around as low as £40 on Amazon.

Delving into the on-screen menus, tweakers will find a fair bit to amuse themselves, though it is necessary to get to grips with what’s on offer to get the best from this TV. There are four standard picture presets to choose from, Standard, Movie, Relax and Dynamic. From within the menu for these you can not only adjust Contrast and Brightness but also the Cell Light – the individual brightness of the individual plasma cells.

Advanced settings also give access to Black Tone, Dynamic Contrast and Gamma and White Balance adjustments. Confusingly placed in yet another menu, you find adjustments for colour temperature, and digital and MPEG noise filters. You also get a motion judder canceller, and a film mode, which when enabled gives access to the Cinema Smooth mode, which enables a 24p mode when you feed it suitably encoded Blu-ray content.

Image quality

Starting with its showboat feature, we were generally impressed with its 3D performance. There’s an inevitable loss of brightness when you don the 3D glasses, which by the way are more comfortable than their Panasonic counterparts, but what makes it work is the minimal amount of crosstalk that so afflict all LCD based screens, where edges from the left and right images appear to bleed into one another.

We tested with both Sky 3D and 3D Blu-ray. The former was perhaps more impressive, despite its relative lack of resolution. The sheer size of the display makes the likes of 3D sport involving and we also found ourselves gaining a penchant for 3D space programs.

3D Blu-ray is also enticing, but did where the Samsung falls down compared to more expensive offerings. Colour fidelity is slightly lacking, with noticeably less image pop compared to the likes of Panasonic screens.

Moving to two dimensions and feeding the TV Blu-ray material such Moon and District 9 revealed crisp images packed with detail, but on the downside there’s clearly not as deep as black level as more expensive sets, which robs the image of some depth. However, it’s still offered an involving experience and once you’ve calibrated suitably, it’s still eminently watchable.

You’ll find that images are mostly free of judder and motion blur, which sports and gaming fans will approve. In fact, the latter especially so, as there’s a Game Mode that disables all processing to reduce input lag.

With SD material however, things aren’t so rosy. Image quality is decidedly soft and in fact, on some sources it’s something of a mess. You’ll want to jump back to the safe visual haven of HD as soon as possible to enjoy crisp, solid and natural images.

Audio wise, the presentation goes reasonably loud, but there’s little depth or bass to the sound. It’s fine for casual viewing, but for movies and games, a screen this size deserves a sound system.

In terms of extras, Samsung’s Internet @TV is quite good, offering a range of offerings such as Love Film, YouTube AceTrax movies and Accuweather. You can even access Facebook and Twitter, though the former wouldn’t connect, even after carefully entering in login details. The highlight though is the BBC iPlayer, which is even easier to use than it is on PS3. You can also access video content via the USB ports or via DLNA, either via Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

Conclusion

Overall, we’d be wholeheartedly recommending the Samsung PS50C6900 were it not for two things that that bothered us. One of these was image retention – whenever we left a static image on the screen for more than a few minutes, we could see an after-image eerily present on screen. This never led to screen burn, but it proved distracting, and evidence of the Samsung’s budget nature.

Equally, we have to mention a slightly distracting a buzzing noise that could be detected coming from the set at times.

However, despite of all these flaws, if you’re after a big screen 3D experience for an affordable price, there’s no doubt you’re getting a lot of TV for your money and on that basis you’ll be unlikely to come away disappointed.

Toshiba Glasses-free TV –Ready for Prime Time?

Yesterday, I attended Toshiba annual product showcase – set in the rather lovely surroundings of the Grove Estate in Hertfordshire.

For me the highlight was the chance to view Toshiba’s auto-stereoscopic, or glasses-free TVs, in person. Toshiba had on show a 56in prototype, as well as the 20in version that are already on sale in Japan. Remarkably, it said that it plans to offer the 56in version for sale by the end of the year. Pricing was undisclosed, inevitably, but expect it to be at the high-end of premium.

The question is though, is it ready?

There’s quite a difference is size between 20-in and 56in, but at the even Toshiba spokespeople admitted that people are only interested in large size TVs. In fact it’s not had much luck shifting its 20in TVs, even in the gadget fever land of Japan. The 20in versions cost around £1,800 in Japan so that’s not exactly value for money. Obviously Toshiba weren’t announcing pricing for the 56in version but it’s going to be a very premium product – I wouldn’t be surprised with a launch price of around £8,000.

Though, the TV uses a native 4K panel, the effective viewable resolution is only 720p. This is because glasses-free TVs are multi-view displays – splitting the resolution in four overlapping views in order to give a smooth 3D effect without having to keep your head stock still in front of the screen.

At least that’s the theory. In terms of the 3D experience I found it interesting but the quality is not outstanding. There is noticeable blur as you stand there, even standing in one of the four sweet spots. Maintaining resolution with fast motion is still a challenge for LCD TVs even on standard Full HD TVs – when you factor in 3D and the fact that the screen resolution is dropped to the need for multi-views and it’s a real issue for auto-stereoscopic.

This was clearly in evidence. When motion was still detail was fine, but when the fast paced Final Fantasy XIII demo got going, the 3D image fell apart and was hard to follow. Also on show is a grid pattern that reminds me of the chicken wire grid pattern that early LCD projectors used to sport. Furthermore, the 3D effect seemed to be less pronounced that with the best standard active shutter 3D I have seen. Even at 56in, the 3D effect offered less sense of immersion that what I have experienced with standard active shutter glasses 3D.

Overall, I was not convinced that glasses-free TV is ready., though in Toshiba’s favour this is an early prototype, and it has time to work on it until it releases it later in the year. My feeling is that it needs more native resolution – perhaps we’ll need 8K – Ultra-high definition to make it a practical proposition. It will be years until this is cost effective, which makes me think that James Cameron is correct.

While I wasn’t blown away by the end result, one still has to admire Toshiba’s engineering prowess to even attempt this, when glasses-free TV rivals such as Philips are still at the demo stage. We were told that glasses-free TV was 8-10 years away, by voices no less esteemed by James Cameron, and here Toshiba has already released its first offering to the market. It’s typically idiosyncratic – going out on a limb to differentiate itself from the competition. It reminds me of its commitment to HD DVD – admirable, though ultimately misguided. Could auto stereoscopic end up the same way? Time will tell.

Sony 3D TV: First impressions

Yesterday I spent some time at a Sony briefing, where it was showing off its new range of 3D TVs. Now that Sony has joined the 3D party on the high street it’s fair to say that the 3D hype machine has truly kicked in big time. Supplying 3D TVs and Blu-ray players is in fact the last piece of the 3D puzzle for Sony, as it is crucial in the creation of most 3D content – from its cameras, to its 3D post-production processing boxes and its movie studio – which will be producing a raft of 3D cinema releases from now on.

Now when it comes to 3D in the cinema I am an advocate. I’ve seen Toy Story 2, Monster vs. Aliens and of course Avatar in 3D, and I do think that for the right film, that added dimension is worth it.

SuperStardust HD

somewhat blurry, but this is SuperStardust HD in 3D.

In the home of course, it’s a harder proposition to sell for various reasons. For a start 3D adds a price premium to the cost of the TV, which might put some people off. To counter this, the new Sony KDL-HX803 and KDL-HX903 are ‘3D Ready’, which means that you have to buy the 3D glasses and the transmitter separately, but if you’ve not interested or not ready to invest in 3D at least you don’t have to pay for it at the outset. However you are left with an external transmitter, (which looks a lot like a Wii sensor bar) so it’s more unsightly. Horses for courses, I think is the relevant phrase.

The next is the fact that the 3D cinema experience works because the image is much larger and so envelopes you. With a TV that’s just not the case – especially at the 40in end of the scale. However, that’s not to say it doesn’t work at all.

At the event I tried a range of content – a movie – Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, a game – essentially a 3D update of asteroids, and a variety of stock demo footage. Overall, the experience was mixed. Oddly, I found watching Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs the least satisfying. I would say this is partly because of the scale issue, and partly because the concept of food dropping from the sky is one that is too terrifying for my mind to conceive. I never was to see that movie.

3D gaming was also a mixed experience. I can’t recall the name of the title, but it was essentially a 3D update to Asteroids. The asteroids hanging in front of the screen were quite effective. However, I found that whenever there was fast motion, which you’re going to get a lot of in a game, I saw fuzziness at the edge of my peripheral vision. I seemed to lack the pin sharp snap you expect from HD gaming. The score counters also seem to float in front of the screen, but what I thought was a shadow of these hanging behind them, was according to the man I was standing next to in fact the effect of ‘crosstalk’, or ghosting, where images from each eye, which the glasses are supposed to separate, blend onto each other. (A word on the glasses – these were reasonably comfortable and have an auto-off function to preserve battery life and there will be some available in children’s sizes we were told.)
The 200Hz feature on the display is meant to deal with this issue, but it’s still there. I understand that this issue affects plasma more than LCD, and the one time I’ve seen 3D plasma in action I couldn’t spot it, but I have to investigate further before I can come to any conclusions in my own mind.

On the up side some of the Sony footage was very impressive. Particularly effective was an aquarium, where the first really seem to be moving in front of the TV, and a Polar bear swimming, with amazing depth to his fur and a snese the his head was closer to me than this body as he saw across. Really stunning. Also great was a American Football match filmed specifically with 3D cameras and this was as good, if not better, than the impressive Sky 3D Premiership football I’ve seen.

In fact I saw also this demoed on a projector – which, due to the size of the images, would seem to be the natural home for 3D. This was a very early prototype however, and its modest 800 lumens output was curtailed further by the glasses, which robbed the image of much of its potential impact.

Sony assured us though that the light issue was being worked on, and that a 3D ready projector would come to market by the end of the year. I’d be excited to see it in action again.

Sony 3DTV on sale from tomorrow

Sony’s 3DTV ready display, the KDL-HX803 will go on general sale from tomorrow (11 June). At a press briefing this morning, Sony said it was in a unique position in the market as it was involved in all sides on the 3D process – from production equipment such as broadcast cameras, to content creation of movies and games, and finally its range of 3D hardware, a strategy it described as being ‘from lens to living room’.

Demonstrating that it was leading the 3D vision Sony said that it had created a new technology centre in Culver City, California to educate film-makers on how to make ‘good 3D’. At the World Cup, it will have two large 3D camera rigs on site and 25 games will be filmed in 3D –though unfortunately these will not be broadcast live in the UK, as Sky, the only platform currently capable of delivering 3D, does not have the rights. However, Sony said that a 3D highlights Blu-ray will be available later this year.

In terms of content there will be a range of 3D capable games available to download, such as WipeOut HD, SuperStardust HD and a demo of MotorStorm Pacific Rift, playable on a firmware upgraded PlayStation 3.

On Blu-ray, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D will be available from 14 June. There’s also a slew of 3D movies coming to cinemas, such as Resident Evil: Afterlife, The Green Hornet, and in 2012, Spider-Man 4.

A Sony music exec also said that Sony would be upgrading library content from the likes of Jimi Hendrix to classic videos from Jamiroquai into 3D.

In terms of hardware the KDL-HX803 TV will be available in 40in and 46in sizes. Note that this is a ‘3D ready’ TV and the glasses and the 3D transmitter (to sync images from TV to glasses) will be available separately. The TV offers MotionFlow 200Hz and High Speed Precision to counteract cross-talk.

The LED backlit KDL-HX903 is a step-up model, and the top-of-the-range KDL-LX903 with an integrated transmitter and bundled with two pairs of glasses will be available in July. It will also feature Wi-Fi, Bravia Internet TV and a Intelligent Presence Sensor that will detect if someone, normally a child, is too close to the screen, and warn them to back away.

Sony is the third manufacturer to release a 3DTV in the UK, following the release of 3DTVs from Samsung and Panasonic.
In terms of Blu-ray, the BDP-S470 is Firmware upgradable to 3D while the BDV-S570 is 3D ready out of the box.

3D glasses are not kid friendly

I happen to wonder in to the local Curry’s Digital store yesterday and noticed that they had a full Point-of-Sale display set up for the new 40in Samsung UE40700 3DTV, with a couple of pairs of 3D glasses next to the screen, and Monster and Aliens on Blu-ray running as a Demo.

Not that Samsung is paranoid or anything but the glasses were attached by cable to the display and as I found out talking to the salesman, the disc was also locked in the player too. Popping the glasses on, I was at first confused why the movie was still blurry – but then realised that the Active Shutter glasses weren’t actually on! OK, I felt a bit daft, but it it confused me for a second, it could well ruin the chances of 3D impressing a punter who doesn’t realise what the problem is.

Once past that hurdle I then put a pair on my 3 year old daughter to find a small problem – they were twice as wide as her face. Surely kids friendly movies will be a mainstay of 3D entertainment, so would it not be logical for the TV manufacturers to get onto this issue pronto?

Still, at least she seemed impressed by what she saw commenting that “they’re popping out of the TV”, when she saw the characters on screen.

Panasonic’s new 50in Viera TX-P50V20 was also on display, but there was no similar Point-of-Sale set up and I had to ask a salesman to get it set up, which was a faff. Once working the only 3D material was a stock demo, so there was no way of making a standard comparison with the Samsung. That said, the Panasonic’s 3d felt smoother and easier on the eyes, though I did notice how much the brightness was cut by the glasses and I was standing right in front of it.

I’ll be waiting for the 42in version that’s coming out later this year, as, cost aside, the 50in would never contend with the dreaded WAF. (Wife Acceptance Factor).

Sky 3D: First impressions


This afternoon I finally had a chance to see 3DTV in action, so I thought I’d post my first impressions. Sky has recently launched a dedicated 3D channel, and it’s possible to see it in selected pubs around the country. Simply go to this Sky web page enter in your post code and you’ll be presented with a list of your nearest Sky 3D enabled public houses.

With a bit of time free this afternoon I did exactly this, and found three suitable venues just a few miles from me showing the Chelsea vs Stoke game. Choosing one that was the most convenient to get to, the Golden Lion in London Colney (or St Albans if you’re posh), I got there five minutes before kick-off and was a little disappointed not to find a crowded room of 3D glasses wearing football fans waiting in front of a huge projector. Instead there were three people at tables, and a couple of dodgy looking geezers standing at the bar, waiting in front of an LG LCD display, presumably the LG 47LX6900 in one corner of the bar. 


I was little worried that the 3D action wasn’t going to happen as there was a very blonde looking blonde (you know what I mean) pressing inanely on a remote control, trying to get the football to appear in 3. She wasn’t having much like, but someone thankfully to her rescue and switched to the 3D mode. Immediately this presented a telling blurry image on the screen, which meant that it was time to don the 3D glasses. 

Yes, 3D glasses will make you look this cool.

I was a bit miffed that I had to pay £2 for the pair, (I’d brought my six year old son with me) but it turns out you get to keep them, so fair enough. (Or at least, that’s what the bloke next to me said. If not, I’m a criminal!)


Despite the lack of a large projected image, I was impressed by what I saw from the LG display. I was sitting at around four metres from the screen, and while not quite the overwhelming experience I got when viewing Avatar at the Waterloo IMAX, (OK, not even close) the 3D effect was essentially, pretty cool. At first, the effect was a little weird – in some shots the players were similar to a pop-up book overlaid onto a background. Over the course of the match, though, I began to relax into it, and the increased sense of depth, made it actually feel more realistic. My six year old son had no problems with it, but he mostly mentioned how the on-screen score and sky logo appear to hover on front of the action.



Handily, there was another TV in the other corner showing the regular 2D footage, so it was easy to compare the two. Unfortunately, this was not in HD, so perhaps it gave the 3D an unfair advantage, but the 3D presented a more impressive image, with regards to a palpable sense of depth most noticeable in long shots, close up and crowd shots. Sky’s 3D footage is not full frame HD, but instead presents half resolution HD to each eye, but the image was sharp, defined and HD enough. I did find shadow detail in faces and darker edges of the pitch harder to pick out at time, but the environment was bright and hardly conducive to optimal viewing.

As far as the glasses affecting brightness was concerned I had no issues, and watching I could not detect any image ghosting or motion trails. In fact, 3D really helps when watching the flight of the ball, as it’s easier to detect the angle it’s travelling at. How many times have you jumped up thinking the ball has gone in, only to find that it’s hit the netting at the back of the goal. (3,953 – that’s how many – I keep a note of these things).

One thing to note is that it’s not the same image you get when watching a match but in 3D – these are entirely separate cameras so you get a very different perspective on the game, in every sense. The default angle of the 3D camera, at least at Stamford Bridge, was low down and the side of the pitch which meant that with the 3D effect it looked almost as if it would if you were actually sitting in that seat – almost. However, the camera rarely cut to other angles, which meant that when the action switched to the far side of the pitch it became difficult to see what was going on, just as it would if you were in a particular seat. For the regular 2D broadcast, it just cuts to another camera. It became clear pretty quickly that there simply weren’t enough 3D cameras in the ground to do this. Clearly though, this is simply a case of Sky either being very picky with the angles in order to ensure as many shots as possible offer a tangible 3D effect, or that it has yet to get enough 3D cameras into the grounds, as very likely they are bulkier and more expensive than conventional ones. Most likely, it’s a bit of both.

Many 3D naysayers complain that watching 3D makes them tired and gives them headaches, and while I actually only had time to stay for the first half, towards the very end of it, I did begin to feel that my eyes were feeling a little strained. However, up to that point I had no problems whatsoever, and I’ll definitely need to sit through a full match before I make any final judgement on that score.

Overall, I found my experience of Sky HD matched that of the excellent John Archer over at my former haunt TrustedReviews.com and given the choice, I would prefer to watch football this way.  

Indeed, I think that sports events could be the key to 3D’s success in the home. Without a projector I can’t imagine a TV, even a 50in, being big enough to do a 3D movie justice, but having seen footie in 3D I’m now really keen to see a Blu-ray movie in 3D. With football, and I would imagine with other sports, it really does adds an extra dimension, if you’ll pardon the horrendous cliché. I’m still not sure it’s worth the price premium that the first run of TVs will charge for it – but I’ve not doubt that it two years’ time 3DTVs will be the norm for new purchases, and it’s sports that will make it happen.