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5 3-D Products Worth Buying Now

Stocks in this article: SNE PC GOOG AAPL MMI

Vizio and LG "Passive" 3-D televisions
Again, a majority of Americans aren't adopting 3-D based strictly on the glasses. When Panasonic (PC) and Samsung announced their first 3-D televisions more than a year ago, the glasses that came with them were not only expensive -- $150 to $200 -- but heavy as well. Folks used to wearing passive "polarized" shades in movie theaters were taken aback by the "active" shutter-driven glasses that felt as if someone had parked a Vespa on the bridge of the wearer's nose.

Samsung's recently addressed that problem by including two sets of free glasses with its televisions and dropping the price of extras to $50 apiece from $130. That really doesn't fix the problem with shutter lenses, which 90% of respondents to an NPD survey last fall say would inhibit them from multitasking.

Companies such as Toshiba and Sharp are already trying to make glasses-free televisions and demonstrated that technology at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, but they're starting on 20-inch screens and still have quite a way to go. While the cost of a 3-D TV was a key deterrent for 64% of consumers polled by NPD Group in February, already declining costs are being helped out by companies such as LG and Vizio, which have developed "passive" 3-D technology that allows viewers to use the same, lighter, cheaper glasses used at movie theaters. The glasses are available for as little as $5 to $7.50 on Amazon and other sites, but LG includes four pairs with its $1,600 47-inch LG 47LW6500 and Vizio packs four pairs in with its 60-inch, $3,000 Vizio XVT3-D650SV.

Right now, the 32-inch Toshiba 32TL515U is the only passive 3-D TV below the $1,000 mark, and it hasn't released yet. With Panasonic, Samsung and even Vizio 42- and 46-inch active 3-D sets selling for less than $1,000, passive 3-D doesn't seem like much of a bargain. That's true at this point, but passive glasses are the only way to watch 3-D programming and update your Facebook status at the same time.

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