"Glasses-free 3-D TV" sounds crazy because, well, that would look like real life, right? The newest Sony incarnation of the mythical television feels closer than ever—almost like Sony might actually Lasek our 3-D TV experience one day.
Maybe it was just the partially-enclosed black bay in which Sony is exhibiting its latest glasses-free 3-D prototype, but the 4k display really pops. The colors are vibrant, and when you're watching slow-moving video, objects emerge organically from the screen—more convincingly than anything we've seen before. As with earlier versions of glasses-free 3-D, the overall effect isn't quite good enough to be immersive. The TV works best if you look at the screen straight on, and as this straight-on view moves towards 45-degrees, the effect becomes distorted and blurry, if it doesn't disappear altogether. In other situations, like when an object bulges out quickly or when you're watching something busy like a school of fish swimming, the 3-D effect is jarringly blurry and distorted. All of the performance, it should be noted, was better on the the 24" glasses-free display right next to the 46-incher. That bodes well for the future.
We overheard lots of oohs and ahhs from passers by, and with good reason: The 3-D experience Sony created here is pretty impressive. On the other hand, from the short amount of time we spent watching the cycled video, it still felt more like an exhibited prototype than the real thing. The improvement in this year's TV, though, was tangible. A glasses-free future might not be that far away.