IFA 2010: Hands-On With Panasonic's Press Conference. Hope You Like 3D!

The loneliest pair of 3D glasses in the world

Perhaps Panasonic should change its name to 3D3D3D3D. The company that has “invested in innovation” (are you kidding me?) will debut a 3D camcorder, the HDC-SDT750, in Europe this October. It will also release a 3D converter lens (by the end of the year), for Panasonic’s plain ol’ Lumix camcorder. Of course, you’d need a 3D TV to then view the recorded 3D footage. Which means you’d need to wear 3D glasses every time you wanted to watch your home movies. Hmm.

Hi, HDC-SDT750!

How can I describe Panasonic’s press conference at IFA? There were 3D TVs set up all over a very large room, then they sat you in front of these TVs. Then the man on the stage says, “Please put on your 3D glasses.” Then we oblige.

Oh hello, Mr. 3D converter lens!

And then! Eh, they show us a kid’s birthday party in 3D, which, shockingly, is as exciting as a kid’s birthday party in 2D. A child blows bubbles directly toward you, you crack a smile, say “neat,” then wonder: how much would that have cost me? Never mind the cost of putting on a kid’s birthday party, you have to shell out for the TV, the 3D camcorder (or 3D converter lens), and hope that your TV-viewing guests have brought their own 3D glasses.

Lest you forget why we’re on this planet!

It just seems like so much effort, and quite a bit of coin, for an effect that may well has lost its charm by the time you finished watching Avatar in 3D for the first time. “Yeah, that was neat, I guess.”

Sitting here, I wish John Carmack was on stage. At QuakeCon, he spoke with a genuine passion, a conviction in his beliefs: I’m John Carmack, and I’m the world’s greatest programmer. You hear the Panasonic folks talk, and there’s almost a desperation in their voices: Oh dear God we hope people buy this stuff.

Step right up!

Panasonic says there’s four pillars to is 3D world of wonder: user-generated content, Hollywood movies, broadcast (i.e. sports), and gaming. They already showed off that kid’s birthday party, but for Hollywood movies they picked The Last Airbender. Yikes, right?

Now, sports. Sports could be the one area where 3D actually enhances the experience. (Would The Godfather be any better if it were shot in 3D?) Panasonic showed scenes of Rafa Nadal winning the French Open. It was fun, but soccer would have been better. Shock: no soccer footage. Maybe there will be 3D snooker in 2011!

As for gaming, Ubisoft came on stage to show off Shaun White Snowboarding in 3D. Didn’t look any more fun than Tony Hawk was in 1999. Now there’s a genre that peaked right from the word go. Ubisoft did say that fully 50 percent of its games next year will be 3D compatible.

Break out your wallets, ladies and gents.

One other thing: Panasonic sure knows how to stack TVs on top of each other!