Toshiba's first glasses-free 3D televisions went on sale this month...in Japan. Which is why you haven't seen lines of gawkers outside of your local Best Buy. Not that people are exactly lining up to buy these things in Japan, early adopter capital of the world. The Japan Times reports that sales of the new glasses-free sets were less than half of what the manufacturer had expected.
Those anticipated sales were pretty modest too- just 1,000 units each of their 12" and 20" models. Instead, only half that many of the 20" models sold- and far fewer 12" models left the shelves. So what does this early failure teach us about glasses-free 3D?
1. People aren't willing to sacrifice display size. We've just now gotten to the point where 30"-50" TVs are the standard. Costs being equal, a 20" glasses-free 3D TV is not a good replacement for a 40" HDTV in the average living room.
2. We are a long ways off from mainstream adoption of any sort of glasses-free 3D. The Sony rep at CES described it as on the same time-frame as a flying car. Obviously, he wasn't talking about tiny glasses-free screens. Sony had a couple of 32" displays that worked quite well.
But they are too small for the cost. Glasses free 3D TVs need to get bigger and drop precipitously in price before they'll even be worth considering for most consumers.