PC) and Samsung Electronics announced prices for their 3D HDTV units and accessories last week. While the cost of these new sets ranges from slightly more than high-end 2D LCD models to slightly less than a basic Hyundai Accent, each company is sweetening the deal by offering video game-style bundles. Glasses, movies and 3D Blu-ray players are being added to coax consumers -- 86% of whom still favor DVDs over Blu-ray, according to Nielsen -- to change formats again. Even with promotions, Consumer Reports says a family of four could spend more than $3,300 for a 3D experience at home. With Samsung offering its own deals and DirecTV ( DTV) promising three high-definition 3D channels by June, here are the goodies Consumer Reports says manufacturers are using to gently nudge the stubborn herd:
All versions will have access to Netflix ( NFLX) videos, Pandora music, Twitter and Skype phone service through Panasonic's Viera Cast service, though Panasonic does users no favors by excluding a microphone and camera for Skype usage and wi-fi access for an easier connection. According to preliminary Consumer Reports testing, the screen's black elements don't pixelate and its action sequences don't blur. As for 3D visibility, the notion that one needs to sit directly in front of the screen at a certain distance was debunked when viewing 3D movies at various angles. Panasonic's bundle also includes the DMP-BDT300 3D Blu-ray player, which basically mirrors all of the television's features without the screen. The player, which sells alone for $400, can play Blu-ray discs and DVDs and has access to Netflix, Pandora and Twitter. Like Panasonic's 3D TV, the player lacks standard wi-fi gear, forcing the consumer to fork over more cash for a wi-fi dongle. While Consumer Reports says the Panasonic unit works on other 3D televisions, what's the point of upgrading to 3D if it's still couched in 2D features?
Samsung's nicest touch may be the inclusion of a DreamWorks Animation's ( DKS) Monsters vs. Aliens 3D DVD. Sony, Microsoft ( MSFT) and Nintendo don't do consumers many favors when they launch new gaming consoles, but they're at least savvy enough to include a game with the console so the buyer has something to play with out of the box. Best Buy has caught on to the adopters' plight by packaging HDMI cables with popular Blu-ray discs like Star Trek and Up, but it would be nice to see manufacturers taking similar steps to draw consumers into their products. -- Reported by Jason Notte in Boston.