Samsung and Panasonic will start selling 3-D TVs in U.S. stores this week, inaugurating what TV makers hope is the era of 3-D viewing in the living room.
Samsung Electronics Co. announced Tuesday that it is selling two 3-D sets. Combined with the required glasses and a 3-D Blu-ray player, the prices start at about $3,000 for a 46-inch screen.
Panasonic Corp. has said it will sell its first 3-D set Wednesday.
The push into the living room comes as moviegoers have shown considerable enthusiasm for the latest wave of 3-D fare in the theater. This weekend, "Alice in Wonderland" grossed an estimated $116.2 million at the box office, beating the first-weekend receipts of "Avatar," the winter's 3-D blockbuster.
Although it's clear that 3-D sets for the home will appeal to technology and home-theater enthusiasts, it remains to be seen if the TVs will entice regular consumers to spend $500 or more above the price of a comparably sized standard TV and Blu-ray player.
For now, there isn't much to watch in 3-D. Samsung is including a 3-D copy of "Monsters vs. Aliens" on Blu-ray discs with its packages, in a deal with the studio, DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. Its CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, said that it would convert its "Shrek" movies to 3-D for Samsung TV buyers later this year.
Eventually, sports and other programming that will benefit from a more immersive experience should be offered in 3-D. ESPN has said it will start a channel this year that will broadcast live events using the technology, starting with FIFA World Cup soccer in June.
Samsung, the world's largest maker of TVs, has high hopes for 3-D. Tim Baxter, the head of the company's U.S. electronics division, said he expects 3-D to be in 3 million to 4 million of the 35 million TV sets that all manufacturers will sell in the U.S. this year.
Sony Corp. said Tuesday it will start selling its 3-D televisions in June. It hopes that 10 percent of the TVs it aims to sell in the next fiscal year will be 3-D units.
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