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PS3 to Get 3D Blu-ray Playback

September 24, 2010

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Sony's Playstation (PS3) received a firmware update to make the games console 3D Blu-ray Disc (3D BD) compatible on 21 September 2010, despite a recent announcement by Sony Computers at the IFA in Berlin that it could be delayed till October. The update enables full HD 3D (1080p to each eye) playback, although this comes at the expense of lossless HD audio and BD-Java functionallity. The potential for PS3 3D BD playback capability was first revealed in January 2010.

PS3 3D BD playback, whilst a coup for PS3 processing superiority, will have little immediate impact on the adoption of 3D in the home. The practically non-existent installed base of 3D TVs and the low number of 3D BD titles for purchase - outside of 3D hardware bundling deals - prior to the fourth quarter 2010 will make the primary benefit of the update that of raising consumer awareness for 3D video.   Unlike the early adoption of 2D BD in 2006-07 the adoption of 3D BD is wholly dependent on the purchase of compatible 3D displays. Screen Digest analysis indicates that 3D capability will quickly become a feature of all high end displays, expected to carry a premium of just 10% after the initial launch years. A similar dynamic is likely to be adopted for dedicated video playback devices. Drawing parallels with early hi-def, the PS3 will initially form the vast majority of 3D BD playback devices, though the number actually connected to 3D TVs will again be small and thus 3D video compatibility is unlikely to sell a significant number of games consoles. The absence of an HDMI 1.4 port in the console (mandated by dedicated 3D BD player specifications) will deter some 3D purists. The use of HDMI 1.3 - which is supported by the current PS3 models - necessitates a compromise in the PS3 3D experience; sound quality and BD-java functionality have been reduced to accommodate 3D video playback. However, following the update, the PS3 once again represents the most cost effective, cutting edge video playback solution in the home and the slight reduction in the audio experience is unlikely to be noticed by any but the most discerning of consumers.
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