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How Much is Switching to a 3D TV Really Going to Cost You?

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By Lindsay Sakraida, dealnews staff writer

Over the past year or so, dealnews has seen major drops in 3D HD television prices, and at any given moment, our site is teeming with enticing deals on the new technology. But if you're considering taking the plunge and adding another dimension to your viewing experience, keep in mind that the spending doesn't stop with the TV alone. To immerse yourself in 3D, you'll need the five items below. With our recommendations, you'll end up shelling out up to $1650, but you'll save as much as $485.

The 3D TV:
Since their debut, 3D TVs have dropped significantly in price; we've even seen options for under $700. While you should peruse our site for your preferred brand, size, and specifications, the Vizio 42" 480Hz 1080p 3D LED LCD HDTV and the Samsung 50" 720p 3D Plasma HDTV are at excellent price lows. (The latter even comes with a second 19" TV, for good measure.) That said, you should strongly consider looking for a bundle deal, for reasons that will become evident as you read on.
Price: Vizio, $989.99 + free shipping, a price low by $128; Samsung, $799 + free shipping, a price low by $48

Blu-ray Players:
Many 3D Blu-ray players have some sort of 2D to 3D conversion (as well as 1080p upconversion), which is good news for nearly every movie made before the year 2000. Ultimately though, it makes sense to buy a 3D TV bundled with a Blu-ray player. You will most certainly want one, and you'll almost always save money in the end with a bundle deal (especially if it's been screened and listed on our site). For a thoroughly Editor's Choice–level deal, we highly recommend this Toshiba 55" 240Hz 1080p 3D LED HDTV Bundle, which comes with a 3D Blu-ray player and two pairs of glasses.

If you already pulled the trigger on a TV though, don't fret. Give this Panasonic 3D Blu-ray Disc Player a try; it comes with a mail-in rebate to receive a Blu-ray 3D copy of Avatar, which is still currently unavailable to purchase on its own at retail stores (and it sells for a pretty penny on eBay.)
Price: Bundle, $1,500 + free shipping, a price low by $468; 3D Blu-ray player, $124.99 + free shipping, a price low by $7

3D Glasses:
These aren't the dinky throwaway glasses you get in a movie theater, and a single pair can run you upwards of $100. (Further evidence of why bundles are an excellent investment; that Toshiba deal just keeps looking better and better, eh?) But while many TVs come with two sets, you'll likely want more than that so you can outfit the whole family, or invite some friends over. This Samsung 3D Starter Kit, which includes two pairs and a copy of Monsters vs. Aliens, is a good deal, but remember that you'll need glasses from the same manufacturer as your TV.
Price: $178.99 + 1-cent s&h, a price low by $49

Blu-ray 3D Movies:
While a majority of 3D TVs come bundled with at least one Blu-ray 3D disc movie, keep in mind that not a single movie from your existing collection is likely optimized for the fancy new technology — and there are a limited number of titles that actually are. "Blu-ray 3D" is the specific term for discs that are created for the newer 3D technology, as opposed to older 3D which uses anaglyph or polarized glasses. Currently, Amazon.com only sells 30 different Blu-ray 3D titles, and one of them is Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. (Best Buy also has 30 titles; Walmart has 33.)

Since there's less variety and competition at the moment, the likelihood of seeing massive price drops on Blu-ray 3D movies is low — as evidenced by the fact that dealnews has seen very few discounts on movies alone. Amazon.com's average price for a single Blu-ray 3D title is $27.37, currently the lowest of the three major retailers mentioned above. While you'll likely have a Blu-ray player that can 3D-ize your existing standard Blu-ray collection, you'll want a few that are actually made for the expensive technology you've just invested in.
Price: Five movies for $27.37 each + free shipping = $136.85, a price low by $10 (average)

HDMI Cables:
A common confusion when upgrading to 3D is what cables are needed. Many assume that to properly transmit 3D material from your Blu-ray player to your TV (both 3D-enabled), you absolutely need HDMI v1.4 cables. In actuality, any high speed HDMI cable with support for a 1080p resolution will do. (Click here for more details.) That said, HDMI v1.4 (which includes Ethernet) is around the corner and many manufacturers are trying to make it the next standard. In general, 1.4 is going to be more expensive, so check the specific equipment you bought to see if it's necessary.

Regardless of where you stand among the two cable camps, there are deals to be had. Try the 3.3-Foot HDMI Cable 3-Pack for standard cables, or go for v1.4 with the 3-Foot HDMI v1.4 Cable.
Price: 3-pack, $6.98 + free shipping, a price low by $7; v1.4, 99 cents + $2.98 s&h, a price low by $1.

Total cost: Bundle deal, $1,644; Otherwise, $1,247 to $1,438
Total savings: $121 to $485


For more on the future of 3D TV, see our video series on YouTube.

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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2 comments
bondhardy
I would recommend http://bluejeanscable.com. Inexpensive cable with great quality, but you will need to know what you are ordering. And they sell some made in USA cables!!!
jaspers
There is a marketing lie about HDMI cables and HDMI versions that just won't die.

ALL HDMI cables are connection-wise the same (no difference in I/O), there were some pins (14 and 19) that were unused up to version 1.4, but they *should* be wired even in old cables. There may be an odd chance that some cheap manufacturers left out the wire, but I've not seen this.

HDMI v1.3, 1.4 etc is a functional specification and not a rating of *any* cable. In fact there is a push to have manufacturers remove the HDMI versions from cables, and only include the supported bitrate. Manufacturers are already prohibited from marketing cables by HDMI version.

Each functional version has a specified bitrate requirement and *this* is where a cable can fall short. The clockrate required for HDMI 1.3 and HDMI 1.4 is IDENTICAL (340 MHz), version 1.0-1.2a required 165MHz.

Even so if the distance is short even very old cables should work.

Bottom line. NEVER buy cables labeled 1.4 there is no difference between the bitrate requirements between 1.3 and 1.4. Those are functional specifications supported by the equipment using the cable
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