I am writing this as a help to anyone who is new to 3D movie watching or for others who just need to get some more glasses and wanted some comparisons.
The notion of finding the “best” active 3D glasses might be a pointless one. While I am not an expert on the technology itself, I am a huge and growing fan of 3D cinema
() long may it live (and if you are a 3D cinema fan too, then keep seeing 3D movies and keep buying 3D Blu-rays
). So, I do understand that the active 3D glasses tech is sophisticated enough that, at least in my opinion, you’ll like a certain style or design of 3D spectacles or you won’t. We are fortunate that these days, glasses that used to cost north of $125 per unit several years ago when 3D TVs were newer, can be had for much less.
I have four different models of 3D glasses for our home theater and just wanted to share my thoughts on each as I was able to compare.
What they have in common:
- The models are:
- Epson ELPGS03
- Samsung SSG-5150GB
- 3ACTIVE by Dimensional Optics
- ValueView by Dimensional Optics
None of these models appeared any darker to my eyes than another.
This has far more to do with the display and video processing and of course the source material than the 3d glasses. Not all 3D is equally good, depending on the production design and implementation. I liken the active 3D glasses to HDTV over-the-air antennas. When those antennas first went mainstream in the mid 2000s it was awesome and a much-needed boost to the technology. They allowed the user to do less adjustments to the antenna in order to “improve” the signal. If you could simply receive
the signal then you generally had a good signal. That’s what its like with these glasses. To my eyes all of the models had the same picture quality (i.e. colors, clarity of detail, etc.) and none suffered from any connectivity issues. I tested dark scenes from Gravity 3D
, bright scenes from Avatar 3D
, and detailed natural photography in slow motion from BBC Earth’s Enchanted Kingdom 3D
. The picture quality and perceived resolution and coloring all looked the same to me. One’s eyes do take each set of specs a little different at first but after 30 seconds on your face, the image received by each of these sets, all else being constant, was equally pleasing to the eyes.
Weight and Comfort
They don’t weight exactly the same, but the different in weight is moot insofar as they are all equally comfortable enough for lengthy viewing.
While all of these glasses still handily beat the VR headsets like Oculus in the category of “remaining approachable and friendly while wearing”, I can confirm that they all equally impede any opportunity for face time. You might as well tell your spouse or significant other that they look great in movie light because you can’t see them anyway.
Where they differ:
- Peripheral coverage - some have more peripheral coverage than others, by design
- Overall lens size -
- Power source - rechargeable vs replaceable battery
I acquired two of these when I bought my Epson Home Cinema 3500 (my current projector’s predecessor). These have worked great for over 1 year and remain my point of reference for home cinema 3D glasses. The lenses provide good enough coverage for a projected image large enough to fill your field of view. The frames have “medium” peripheral coverage.
What I like: Sturdy frame. Groovy nose pads, super comfy. Recharging cable included. Simple On/Off switch is superior to the push button design of others.
What I don’t like: no storage case included. Most expensive of the four models.
Originally marketed for people who own Samsung 3D TVs, these work just fine with the transmitters in the RF projectors like Epson. They are the smallest of the bunch. Because they were cheap I picked up 1/2 dozen. Will I do it again? Probably not. Smallest lenses and least peripheral coverage.
What I liked: Cheap at the time (< $20 per unit), although now they are twice that much. For better or worse, they have the smallest lenses and least peripheral coverage. I believe this is because they are marketed at TV owners and the size of the typical TV image is not expected to be immersive enough to fill your field of view.
What I didn’t like: Overall build quality is the weakest of the group. They feel like one small step up from the passive glasses at your local cineplex. The batteries are replaceable, which some people will like. And the batteries are not expensive and you can buy them in bulk. But using batteries in these glasses is problematic because it’s hard to know how much charge there is in each pair. When you want to put on a movie for a group and you stuck swapping out a battery in a set that just died, it’s less than enjoyable. The battery cover is also flimsy and prone to accidentally over tightening. All that said, I will keep them all and use them when I have a large group.
3ACTIVE by Dimensional Optics
These are newer to me and so far so good. They are distributed by a California-based company who told me they co-designed them with a Chinese manufacturer and then import and distribute them (in the US anyway).
What I like: Feels sturdy to hold and wear, good build quality. Great isolation of the image in your view due having the greatest peripheral coverage of the group as well as the the largest lens area. Comes with a charging cable and a very nice padded storage case with a hard outer shell for protection. The storage case looks nice and is quite convenient to keep the charging cable, glasses, and wipe cloths all together.
What I don’t like: Due to having the most peripheral coverage it has the biggest “blind spot”. This is not a complaint but it’s a tradeoff. If you look around a lot because you’re either A) looking for snacks at an eye-level snack table -- which is a TOTALLY normal location for snacks…or B) trying to watch other people’s reactions to your favorite scenes or C) have an undiagnosed furtive glance syndrome issue...if you have any of these situations, then you notice the blind spot. But otherwise if you’re normal and just watch the content it’s not an issue and the peripheral blocking is nice.
ValueView by Dimensional Optics
These are also newer to me but so far so good. They are also distributed by the same company as the 3Active model.
What I like: Nice big lenses, only a tad smaller than the 3active lenses. These have smaller peripheral coverage but this might be better for some people and unlike the Samsung’s you have big lenses in front so your eyes are not fighting the distractions in all directions. The price: least expensive of the group. Comes with a nice slip case for storage and it's own charging cable. They have a more svelte appearance. If there are people who hesitate to watch a 3D movie based on the fact they have to "Wear a big thing", just give them one of these.
Update: the ValueView are also the most compatible wearing over top of eyeglasses. And do it quite nicely. Not possible with the sturdier but bulkier 3Active or Epson.
3D Blu-Ray Player: Oppo UDP203
Screen: Silver Ticket 110” diagonal, White matte, 1.0 gain
Viewing distance: 9.5 feet (2.9 meters)
Receiver: Yamaha A3050
Projector: Epson 5040UB
Epson settings are all default except:
Color Mode: 3D Dynamic
3D Brightness: Low
Diagonal Screen Size (110 in to match my test screen size)
Power Consumption: High or Medium, alternating depending on source material