3D's still a bit of a novelty, and hasn't really caught on in a mainstream way outside of movie theaters and amusement parks. Dolby's showing off a prototype 3D display at NAB that might change that, though. We got a chance to watch some footage on the glasses-free 3D TV at NAB, and everything we saw from Captain America to The Art of Flight looked fantastic. Viewing angles were particularly impressive: even from far off to the side, the 3D effect was still present, and the picture was so crisp and clean that it almost took a minute to realize we were looking at 3D footage.
Dolby is working with Philips to manufacture the displays, which use a sheet of undulated plastic to deflect pixels in various directions — there are 26 different viewing angles in all. Because the image is being sent in so many directions at once, the display has to be incredibly high-resolution to look good (the prototype was a quad-HD TV), which is why Dolby reps said the same impressive viewing angles are going to be harder to achieve on smaller devices like smartphones. The companies are waiting for the higher-res displays to be more mainstream, and less expensive.
It sounds like that's about the only obstacle, though, and based on what we saw the technology is very much ready for public consumption. Dolby was also showing its 3D tech on a handful of smartphones and tablets, along with Dolby software that allows you to control the depth of the 3D effect; what looks good from ten feet away can overwhelm your eyes from one foot while you hold your phone, and in the company's demo being able to scale back the effect made a huge difference in comfort.
The display we saw at NAB is a ways off from consumer availability (though "2013" was mentioned a couple of times), but even as it stands today, it's among the first TVs we'd want to gather around with our friends and watch a movie in 3D.