IFA 2011 Toshiba 55-inch 3D Glasses Free TV: Spec & Price

As television sales suffer from a decline in consumer interest, manufacturers are left wondering how they can boost their figures and improve growth. The problem is back when televisions were large gray and black boxes filling the corners of our living rooms, the introduction of rear projection and then Plasma screens, closely followed by Liquid Crystal Displays meant that customers were flooded with an ever-growing supply of new technology.

The fast pace in which large flat screen sets evolved, meant that the once top-end prices dropped quickly allowing nearly everyone to purchase a decent sized HD quality unit at a price to suit their wallets. Since then LED has entered the fold with back-lit and Full LED sets giving us slimmer and slimmer televisions with ever decreasing bezels, giving near picture frame appearance with superb quality images.

However with thinner LCD units still taking charge of the shelf sales, LED still holds a high price tag. Some who may have only had their LCD or Plasma TV for a short period cannot justify the extra expense to upgrade to the LED variant with minimal improvements. So where do manufacturers go from here?

Obviously there is a need for something that will distract the buyer’s gaze; this is of course where 3D enters the fold. However whilst 3D is the “in” word at the moment, when it comes to televisions the current choices fall foul of one off putting weakness. We are naturally talking about the need to wear glasses to enable us to experience the 3D effect. Now while we all knew that glasses free TV’s would become available we were waiting for manufacturers to supply the goods.

It seems now that the wait is over, and in a report by Physorg we find that Toshiba is the first to raise its head above the parapet and announce the introduction of the first truly glasses free 3D TV experience. And what better place to do it than the 2011 IFA consumer electronics and gadgets show held in Berlin. The model that Toshiba choose to launch its latest technology was the 55ZL2, a 55-inch 3D TV with a super-sized flat-screen. In a cleverly thought out press briefing the crowds were handed glasses with the words “bye bye” printed on the lenses.

So how as Toshiba managed to relinquish three-dimensional displays without the need for the extra equipment? Well it’s all to do with lenticular lenslets and the ability to guide the varying images to the views eye. Using stereoscopic based principles the viewers left eye is sent one image while the right eye is sent a different image with a parallax or small offset. This gives the appearance of 3D pictures with a Quad Full HD display of 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution.

While this sounds and is very clever, perhaps the smartest part is that the 55ZL2 can offer the 3D experience at its optimum for up to 9 viewers seated in different positions around the room. With the assistance of Toshiba’s face-tracking technology a camera at the base of the set can monitor how many people are in the room (with a limit of 9) and adjust its images to allow each person the full 3D experience. This feature is controlled via the remote and accessed by the user.

Originally the set will be available in Germany come December and we are sure that the rest of the world will follow close behind. So there it is 3D without the glasses, what could possibly hold us back from grabbing the first units as soon as they arrive? Well possibly the price, which according to Engadget will knock on the door of 8,000 euro’s or roughly $11,400. A big price to pay for the ultimate visual effect, tell us what you think?