3D HDTV looks set to be the next big thing in the consumer market, and it's already making an impact in the UK. Sky will be broadcasting this weekend's Premiership match between Arsenal and Manchester United in 3D in nine UK pubs, and the technology could soon become a fixture in the living room.

It seems like only yesterday when 1080p and 120Hz were the top of the line specs for which our eyes lusted and our wallets despised. Well, that's old-hat now, and it's time you got yourself educated on the 3D technology that will define HDTVs in 2010 and beyond.

Now, let's get the obvious out of the way: 3D technology is nothing new.

Scientists have experimented with 3D visuals since the invention of moving pictures, and commercial 3D films can be dated back to the 1950s.

But somewhere between then and now, 3D lost its charm as serious technology, and gained a reputation for being kitschy and frivolous.

Today, companies like Sony and LG are preparing large campaigns to get 3D TVs into millions of homes. The playing field is definitely changing, but there are still some ghosts in the closet that 3D can't run away from.

3D Glasses: no more red and blue

Those funky red-and-blue tinted glasses are as much an icon of 3D as bad horror movies and the resulting headaches.
Old 3D movies used a technology known as anaglyphs.

The glasses forced each individual eye to perceive separate images based on the colour filtered through the lens. When your brain puts the two images together, depth can be perceived and a 3D effect is born.

The downside of using anaglyphs, however, is that you lose all sense of colour.

Perhaps in the 50s, the absence of realistic colour was less of an issue since technology was still transitioning from black-and-white images, but today 3D anaglyph technology would be a slap in the face to pretentious directors everywhere.

NEXT PAGE: 3D glasses compared

  1. Whether you love it or hate it, get ready for 3D HDTV
  2. 3D glasses compared
  3. 3D without glasses
  4. Your mileage may vary