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Will Passive Stereoscopic 3D or Active Stereo 3D Preveil in 3D HDTVs

June 20th, 2011 · 37 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

There is a bit of interesting information today coming from Digitimes, saying that according to AU Optronics (one of the large LCD panel manufactures) the shipments of Patterned retarder 3D TV LCD panels (passive 3D solutions) will win over the active 3D LCD panels in the second half of this year. The results for the first half are showing 1 million active 3D LCD panels shipped versus about 900K for the passive ones, but AU Optronics (AUO) believes that in the second half of the years the situation will reverse and the passive solutions will prevail. Of course AUO has direct interest for that to happen as they are currently making passive solutions and although the company is apparently ready to produce auto-stereoscopic 3d displays as well, the cost for the production is still considered too high for the mainstream market…

Another big player on the 3D HDTV market going for Patterned retarder or passive 3D HDTV LCD products is LG Electronics with the company currently having a big worldwide marketing campaign promoting on how their passive line of Cinema 3D TVs are better than active solutions. And although they may be right for some things, you should not forget that the passive solutions also have drawbacks that are not present in most active shutter glasses solutions. On the other hand the other two big LCD panel manufacturers Samsung Electronics and Chimei Innolux (CMI) are giving their support for the active 3D LCD panels.

And while the war between passive and active on the 3D HDTV market rages, on the desktop 3D LCD market still the active 3D solutions are the preferred solution by gamers willing to play in either 2D at 120Hz or in stereoscopic 3D mode with Full HD resolution for each eye. And these two things are not available with most mainstream passive solutions which are usually preferred for non-gaming applications. So which technology do you prefer, what for and why…?

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37 responses so far ↓

  • 1 r00t // Jun 21, 2011 at 00:08

    For Gaming I clearly favor the active solutions, half vertical solution is no compromise to me. Although I didn’t try a passive 3D solution yet, I think for 3DTVs the lighter glasses and brighter picture are more import than the resolution, also crosstalk is not as present in movies as in 3d-Games (to what I know). But as I need a monitor for Gaming, I will use the shutters, the level of brightness gets unimportant after a few seconds of gameplay. If I want to see a movie in 3D, I go to the cinema. Don’t have the money for a 3DTV just for watching movies from time to time. PS: Most people do not watch movies alone in front of their TV, the passive glasses are cheap so buying many of them is no problem. Active is for active gaming, passive for passively watching a movie :D

  • 2 PCStory // Jun 21, 2011 at 02:41

    In one or 2 years, the new 3D 120 hz active polarized monitor with passive glasses will end this debate. For now, active for PC and passive for TV’s.

  • 3 PCStory // Jun 21, 2011 at 02:41

    Or passive projector.

  • 4 MikeArms24 // Jun 21, 2011 at 02:50

    I don’t see any way passive 3d would sell more than active 3d TVs, as 120hz technology is what’s needed for active and most new TVs have at least 120hz already built in, even if they’re not marketed as 3d tvs. Why would comapnies want to spend way more to build a TV rather than adding an emitter and even making more on the glasses.

  • 5 Wayan Palmieri // Jun 21, 2011 at 03:55

    Passive will prevail as the winner with overall lighter glasses that dont cost much and with the newer technology by Real D & Samsung that will give the user a full HD 3D signal, this is a no brainer…

  • 6 Jeanyes // Jun 21, 2011 at 06:45

    I’ve been using active shutter glasses since back when 3dtv was the dominant option. I currently game with Nvidia on an asus 24″ and game/watch videos on my acer 5360. I also am aware of how inexpensive it is to add active glasses as an option to existing panels. Certainly a huge advantage manufactures want to take advantage of. That said, I do have to side with Au Optics on their belief that passive will take over at some point. As much as I hate the decrease in resolution, the viewing experience really is considerably better overall. I haven’t purchased one of the LG sets (waiting for a really good sale) but have spent a few hours watching content on one. I don’t know how else to describe the differences other than to say it is more “comfortable” and feels more “natural.” I also have to wear prescription glasses which only compounds the active shutter weight issue. With passive glasses I’m guessing I could probably have a custom pair of glasses made with my prescription at some point…? I don’t know how long it will take manufacturers to build panels with double the vertical resolution but once this happens then it will be a total no-brainer.

  • 7 Oscar Nizero // Jun 21, 2011 at 10:10

    I have both a Zalman passive monitor and a Samsung 3D TV, and the BIG problem of passive solutions is that, unlike in the theathers, you have to watch at a certain angle. This is very annoying and it is still happening with the new LG TVs.
    You recline a bit in your sofa and the 3D is gone. No way for home entertaiment.

  • 8 3D Holland // Jun 21, 2011 at 11:43

    I’m sure that the “Angle” problem will be solved soon. Passive will be the 3D standard for everyone in the second half of this year. Movies, Games, Internet, Your Mall, it doesn’t matter. You’ll only need one pair glasses that you’ve with you everywhere you go. No extra costs or expensive glasses, just 1 solution for all the things you want to see in 3D..

  • 9 tigerman // Jun 21, 2011 at 12:23

    well, first of all they have to do passive tvs with full resolution and not halved pixels….
    Basically to have the same quality of an active tv a passive monitor should have 3840*1080 native resolution.
    then we need full support for 60hz gaming in full hd, so dual link dvi input or displayport, and obviously compatibility with nvidia 3dtv play.
    then we can talk about passive tvs :)

  • 10 Chris Lux // Jun 21, 2011 at 13:29

    I think passive setups can be better than active ones. The current problem is that we loose half the vertical resolution. This could easily be prevented when the LCD panels could have double the vertical resolution, which should be no problem to manufacture.

  • 11 Max // Jun 21, 2011 at 15:31

    Passive is sooo relaxing to my eyes.
    Dual projector setup with full resolution rulez :-)

  • 12 LoneThread // Jun 21, 2011 at 15:47

    I hate having Polarized, wish I could afford a decent 120Hz Shutterglasses Monitor.

    Seriously, if my head isn’t in the exact right position I see both frames :(

    Anyone want to swap this Zalman 22″ Trimon for a nice Active Screen?

  • 13 Mathew Orman // Jun 21, 2011 at 17:27

    Passive i half resolution and patterns kill all discreet specular stereoscopic effects so the choice for those who understands 3D vision is obvious.

    Mathew Orman

  • 14 r00t // Jun 21, 2011 at 18:49

    If the thing with the viewing angle is true then it should be complicated watching 3D with many people so the cheaper glasses loose it’s advantage. Kind’a funny that the model in the pic plays beeing happy seeing both frames :D Those commercials seem to think of us being very stupid^^

  • 15 Dan // Jun 21, 2011 at 21:51

    LG were demonstrating their new Cinem3d sets at a shopping centre this weekend and I must say that the 3d was crystal clear. However the resolution was visibly poor. Passive TVs will have to be 4k2k before they would be worth getting; paying HDTV prices for SDTV quality, even if it is 3D, is not going to win.

  • 16 nosys70 // Jun 21, 2011 at 23:04

    i own both a 22″ Zalman (passive) and a 55″ samsung (active) and dual full HD projector (passive).
    For me active is a pain because the price (well $50 for glasses is not so expensive, but i would say nothing at $25), but unsurpassed in quality. Passive as sold in the market today his not good enough. Passive as found in theater is ok, almost the same as active, but no way you get that at home. Passive for projection, active for home.

  • 17 mgb // Jun 21, 2011 at 23:23

    Passive is going to win in the home.

    People are unhappy at buying a 3D TV and discovering they have to pay another $100-$250 per pair for manufacturer specific shutter glasses. Especially when your kid breaks them, or 6 friends come round to watch the game.
    A minority of people see the flicker on shutter glasses, especially when combined with fluorescent or CF lighting.
    And they are almost impossible for people who already wear spectacles.

    There is a drop in resolution. But, most of the images were shot on a camera with a bayer mask, so are arguably only half the horizontal and vertical resolution, they were then reduced to i420 or i422 so further reducing the colour information, they were then MPEGed to remove any last trace of high resolution.
    Reducing the number of lines on the display doesn’t really make that much difference!

    The vertical angle tolerance is simply a function of how far away you are and the physical size of the row of pixels – it’s much less sensitive watching on a living room sized 42″ screen than on a 15″ 1080p laptop screen half a metre away.

  • 18 Max // Jun 22, 2011 at 11:46


    “passive as found in theater is ok, almost the same as active, but no way you get that at home.”

    and at the same time you wrote:

    “i own a dual full HD projector (passive).”

    Hmm :)

  • 19 nosys70 // Jun 22, 2011 at 17:34

    yep, i do not expect the average customer to have a 15 feet screen with dual full hd projector in his garden.
    I do not even supose that everybody got a garden…..

  • 20 nosys70 // Jun 22, 2011 at 17:38

    but for the glasses, you can find pack of 2 glasses + 1 movie for $99 (i purchased 3 of them and get 2 glasses with my 46″ and 55″) so now i got 8 glasses + 2 i purchased for kids (special small model)
    so it is not so expensive if you search a bit.

  • 21 MikeArms24 // Jun 22, 2011 at 18:22

    At least all the content will be available on my active 3d screens just as it is on the passive 3d tvs. If the technology is improved and passive technology wins in the end, I guess it doesn’t really matter as I won’t be upgrading my 27″ active monitor or 82″ active tv for a few years, and I’ll have all the same content as available to 3d tvs in the meantime. The main idea I think is advancing 3d in the home. If passive screens are able to get more people to buy 3d tvs, so be it.

  • 22 Wraxx // Jun 22, 2011 at 22:15

    I recently bought the 23″ D2342p passive 3d monitor from LG, and and pretty happy with it.

  • 23 Chinu Hark // Jun 23, 2011 at 09:06

    Well, Ive been saying this for a long time – Passive is the future as it solves all issues of the active sets (Price,Price of Extra Glasses, Flickering etc) with the only drawback being Half vertical resolution. Apart from that the Image quality is Flawless and much better than Active sets. The brightness is so good that you forget that you are wearing glasses in a few minutes and they are also insanely light.
    I don’t think that 4k by 2k is necessary. They just need 1920×2160 and when they do that, it will be the best viewing experience yet. I don’t think RealD’s Z-Screen would be better as it will still have Flickering and Crosstalk issues and only help in making the glasses cheap and light.

  • 24 Chinu Hark // Jun 23, 2011 at 09:11

    Bloody, Please give us Passive fans an unbiased review of LG D2342P. Apart from the resolution issue, tell us about the depth, Pop out and remaining 3D quality, compared to active monitors.

  • 25 Wraxx // Jun 23, 2011 at 20:33

    Chinu Hark, I can tell from my personal experience (I’ve been using it for a week) that my main complaint is crosstalk. This forces me to reduce the depth settings (separation) in all games, cause the crosstalk increases with it. The vertical resolution is absolutely not an issue for me. I tend to forget it’s halved while playing. The picture with glasses on is very bright (compared to active 3d; btw I own that tech too) and there’s absolutely no flickering. The main concern for me is the crosstalk I mentioned. Concerning the vertical viewing angle, it’s not that big issue. I don’t have to sit straight up to get 3d effects, as long as I remain @ my desk.
    I also tried the screen with my ps3. It is recognised as a 3d display and works well, depending on the games. There’s is crosstalk in all of them but on games like Wipeout, it’s not really noticeable as the game is super fast. On the contrary, Killzone 3 looks awful, with a very poor resolution. GT5 in fine once you find the right convergence/separation settings, but I find Shift 2 on PC more enjoyable.
    I can give you more feedback if you want too. Sorry if I made mistakes in my writing; I’m french.

  • 26 Johnny // Jun 23, 2011 at 21:37

    I’ve been using the Zalman screen for 1 1/2 years and although it does have it’s disadvantages, I still prefer passive solutions over active. I’ve never had an active screen at home, but I’ve tried several active and passive solutions at fairs and stores. I dislike shutter solutions mostly because of visible flickering (which I’ve seen at all active solutions), and it still slightly annoys me even after 5 minutes of watching. Passive solutions provide a much calmer image. The angle problem is really a disadvantage of older passive solutions, however I’ve already seen passive solutions with a different technique that don’t have a mentionable angle problem anymore (you could literally walk around and see no ghosting). The horizontal solution is a small drawback as well, but only a true problem in stategy games where it’s required to read small text. Unlike the flickering, I don’t see the lack of resolution anymore after some time of playing.

  • 27 Chinu Hark // Jun 24, 2011 at 12:01

    Wraxx, Thank You for sharing your experience. Are you satisfied with the 3D effect( Depth and Pop out)?

  • 28 Wraxx // Jun 24, 2011 at 23:01

    Chinu Hark, it actually depends on the experience. I find it much better, yet far from perfect, in games than in movies.
    There is crosstalk on this monitor and it increases with depth: the deeper you’ll make your picture, the more noticeable crosstalk will be. Fortunately, the tridef drivers provided with the screen offer a wide range of settings (actually more that 3dvision which I own too, with a 3d projector). For each game, in spite of the fact there already are 3d profiles for a bunch of titles, you can play around with the settings and find the ones that suit you best. You can get very “deep depth” but then, the crosstalk will really become anoying.
    My best experience so far is Darksiders. I brought some adjustments to the default 3d profile and yes, there’s Depth in the game, as well of Pop out. For example, sometimes in battles, the main character’s sword comes out of the screen, as well as projectiles. There’s crosstalk but, so far in the landscape that I tend to forget it.
    Batman Arkham Asylum also looks fine. The only thing is that you have to be reasonable on the depth settings to get an enjoyable experience.
    I also tried Bulletstorm. It looks good too in 3d. Crosstalk is noticeable in the landscape but it doesn’t alter the experience that much (in my opinion).
    Medal of Honor is beautiful, in spite of slight crosstalk. There are Pop out effects in the game, starting with weapons: the rear/back part of weapons (sorry I don’t know how to call it in english) slightly comes out of the screen, and there’s depth too.
    Bad Company 2 is unplayable; it looks awful in 3d with that screen.
    I tried several games from different genres (racing, FPS, adventure, RPG, etc.) and could get an enjoyable experience for most of them.
    Unfortunately, I can’t compare this to active monitors. I’ve got the 3dvision kit too but I’m using it with a projector: no crosstalk at all, but it makes games and movies really dark compared to the D2342P.

    In movies, there’s depth and pop out. Not as great as what I get with my projector (it’s not the same screen size ^^) but 3d effects are there. When watching movies, you may think there’s no crosstalk until you look carefully and see it in the background, in deep scenes. The only complaint I have here is that you can’t adjust 3d effects in movies. In fact, you can, but believe me, you don’t want to, unless you can handle very bad crosstalk. With this screen, I’m afraid you’ll have to watch all movies with default 3d settings. Just to mention, I really don’t mind the halved vertical resolution.
    So far, I’m enjoying my monitor. It’s not perfect, but for the price (starting @260 € here), the brightness, the lightweight and cheap glasses, the HDMI 1.4 port, I like it. I’m actually using it more that my projector (and it’s perfect but dark 3d).

    Don’t expect great performance from the D2342p, but only an enjoyable one, if you don’t mind reducing depth settings in games and watching movies with the default ones in order to keep the crosstalk level low. If you can’t, you’ll to wait for passive monitors with a faster response time (should reduce the issues I mentioned).
    Sorry again for my english.

  • 29 Skyguy // Jun 28, 2011 at 01:11


    Have you tried Side by Side mode for games. You have to press the monitor button on your D2342p to change to that setting. You should not have ghosting for SBS. Try and test it for yourself.

  • 30 Wraxx // Jul 3, 2011 at 11:14

    Hi Skyguy,

    (You’re the one from iz3d forum right?)
    You were right. I tried it with Crysis 2, as the game’s got it’s own stereoscopic 3D engine (I don’t have iz3d drivers to set which output I want for all direct x apps). I first played the game in interleaved mode and there was crosstalk. In side by side mode, it disappeared :) Thanks for the tip. The only issue is that I had to change my display output (on the graphics card) from DVI –> DVI to DVI –> HDMI; otherwise, the monitor would’t allow me to select the stereoscopic display mode.
    Thanks for the kind advice.

  • 31 Wraxx // Jul 3, 2011 at 11:22

    In fact, it didn’t disappear but decreased a lot :)

  • 32 Gregory // Sep 9, 2011 at 17:06

    I do know both technologies.
    My short resumee: Active 3D makes headaches and passive 3D is owning. Passive 3D will win big time. Because its better and cheaper too.
    Half resolution of passive 3D ?. I was sceptic too. But I don’t recognize a big difference. Its something different if you read something in a data sheet or you see it first hand isn’t it ?

  • 33 jtoeppen // Oct 26, 2011 at 09:13

    I enjoy my new 47″ LG passive 3d tv. It is less fatiguing then active systems ( my eyes would twitch after a few hours of gaming). If one sits too close to the display and can resolve the dark lines then they are sitting too close. One form of discomfort on a passive system is if you look at one object and the level of the bottom or top edge is not the same in each eye (so the eyes attempts to adjust) Without the glasses on it is just another 120 Hz LCDHDTV that would also work with active glasses.

    Since I create stereo photos and movies I would like to have existing 3D software work with my TV. I might buy active glasses so that I can use SPM and SMM without to much difficulty.

    All 3D TV accept HDMI 1.4 and require an image that is half height or half width. Both have to fit within one conventional 1080p frame, so the resolution is 1/2 no matter how you do it. However, I would rather have an over/under image if I am using and interlaced output. Shutter glasses with loose half the vertical or half the horizontal resolution one way or the other.

    Side by side 1/2 wide @ 1080p and 25 fps is what the TVs want to be fed. Like this clip that I posted;

  • 34 roger // Oct 29, 2011 at 14:24

    i have come to this website i read nothing but trash or just plain bull just in the market to buy a new 3d tv 4 the family it took me 6 months of research between passive and active so anyone out there buying a active 3d just throwing their money in the trash it will be the biggest mistake you will make in your lives first thing they say they built a active tv 4 the whole family how can that be possible as they only give u one 3d glasses and this is the biggest trash talk 3d gaming does anyone hear tell u 3d gaming is not possible in active 3d . if u want to talk to your friend next to u and u turn your head the picture go black if u move your head it go black on on eye . and when i so the passive no such problems with the passive i just have to say o m god so all i can say stop talking out of your ass and see the real world as is .

  • 35 Betamax... // Nov 12, 2011 at 14:41

    The pro passive supporters need to remember the VHS – Betamax war, and the HD-DVD – Blu-ray war, as they sound no less “positive” and “sure” of it winning than supporters of Betamax and HD-DVD did. I can only go off my own opinions, and that is passive is not delivering “full 1080p” to my brain, even if LG did pay an “independent” 3rd party to slap a certificate of “full HD” on their wares (very crafty indeed). Although it does look better than straight forward 540p it has to be said… so I’d hazard a guess that the brain is seeing something between the two. Perhaps different brains see it differently? I don’t know, I just know that active 1080p looks better to me. I’ve never felt the active glasses to be uncomfortable either, even the cheaper ones, although yes, passive do weigh less.

    Who will ‘win’ though? Well I personally don’t know, but I suspect the combined clout of Sony and Samsung will prevail over LG and they already have the majority share. But is this REALLY a win/lose scenario for the consumer? I don’t think so… unlike Betamax/HD-DVD, I can’t see how we can back a loser here. Unlike those format wars, current 3D Blu-ray discs work on BOTH passive and active screens, as do your games consoles and stuff… so I say you shouldn’t worry about who ‘wins’. Try both systems out in the store, and don’t bother about the other customers and assistants, just hog the glasses, and watch both for 30 mins or more each. I did, and the passive argument of “headache after 20 mins with active” fell away. What I did notice on 20 mins of passive though, was I really wasn’t seeing full 1080p. Sorry to burst your bubble. Perhaps you do see it… or think you do, which is also fine. If you need to save a few bob, go for passive. If you prefer active and the more upmarket presentation and interfaces of Sony and Samsung TV’s, go active. Simple… you can’t back a loser. By the time you will think of upgrading next, both technologies will have been surpassed anyway.

  • 36 roger // Nov 18, 2011 at 00:18

    thank u Betamax u sound just like the sony salesman who sold me active 3d tv no so long ago . after one hour of use on 3d my wife went blind for 10 min so u can keep your full HD and 1080p

    after receiving my refund i got the LG me and the wife or just blown away by the 3d it feel just like 3d at the cinema .
    so the lesson hear boys and girls money doesn’t always buy happiness .

  • 37 Matt // Aug 9, 2012 at 09:21

    Active!. Your wife went blind because you couldn’t afford it and she was pissed on how much money it cost. Lol blind your a joke active is the best for gaming and movies hands down!

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