3D to have muddled CES presence

3D products and content, which had started to become the bread and butter of CES, will have a much more muddled showing this year.

It was just a few years ago that 3D was the big trend at the world’s largest trade show. Every major TV manufacturer had something to show off, and it was called a step that was as important as going from standard definition to HD.

But here we are, in 2012, and how many people do you know with a 3D TV? Better yet, of those people, how many of them actually watch 3D content on a daily basis?

Indeed, the promise of 3D becoming the new universal standard has fallen flat. The problem is in fact that to date, 3D hasn’t really been defined as a “standard.”

Instead, the market got off to a confusing start. If you bought a Sony 3D TV, you needed Sony glasses. If you bought a Samsung 3D TV, you needed Samsung glasses. Oh, and if your TV didn’t have a 3D sensor built in but was still marketed as a “3D TV,” you needed to buy an external sensor.

But that’s not all. All of the sudden, some low-cost competitors entered the arena with “passive 3D” sets, a completely different 3D medium altogether. And let’s not forget Toshiba and its industry-first glasses-free 3D TV.

In other words, while the jump from HD to 3D might be as technologically significant as going from old boxy TVs to sleek HDTVs, the path to that next step is significantly more taxing.

As a result, 3D is expected to be much less of a trend at this year’s show. In terms of TV technology, organic LED (OLED) is perhaps a more fascinating story, though the real focus this year will more likely be on TV software.

Google TV is expected to finally have a strong presence at the show, and TV manufacturers will no doubt be showing off their own proprietary Internet-enabled content platforms.

Sadly, though, when it comes to 3D, the capability is already there but the consumer interest is not.