Sony's 46" and 55" glasses-free 3D TVs are gorgeous...but they're also a pipe dream.
As Mark noted earlier today, the 3D offerings at CES 2011 were a bit of a mess. The big manufacturers were obviously still reeling from the news that 2010 3D TV sales were crappy. The reason behind the slump is easy to see...and nigh-impossible to combat.
Anyone with 2/3rds, or even half, of a brain can see that glasses-free is the only way for 3D to even approach ubiquity. But current glasses-free 3D has some major issues. You have to stand in very specific spots- the 20" displays on the open floor had little footprints marked out for observers. And I'd imagine cost is a factor, although I don't have any hard data there.
On Press Day I ended up scarfing down lunch with a 3D TV engineer from [Unnamed Manufacturer], who estimated 2-3 years before large glasses-free TVs without "dead zones" became feasible. But I heard a somewhat different story at Sony's booth.
They had 46" and 55" glasses-free 3Ds set aside in little covered booths. I had a chance to look at both- and I came away duly impressed. Image quality was great and, when I stood in the wrong place for 3D, it just looked like a normal HD screen. Finding the "right spot" wasn't hard either, and these things worked for at least five or six people.
But, before I could get too excited, Sony's rep warned us that their engineers put large glasses-free displays in the same category as "jetpacks and flying cars". He then added that the first active-shutter lenses were debuted about 12 years before they saw mass release. We might be in for the same sort of wait for glasses-free.