By James K. Willcox of Consumer ReportsFor the past few weeks, part of my job has been watching a lot of TV -- specifically, 3D programs on the recently launched n3D and ESPN 3D channels. (Yes, it's nice work if you can get it.) While some of the 3D programming has been underwhelming, it seems clear to me that baseball in 3D is a clear winner, bringing new life to even the most traditional of TV broadcasts. First up were the two Yankees-Mariners 3D broadcasts from Seattle's Safeco Field. I viewed the 3D broadcasts on a 50-inch Panasonic ( PC) VT20-series plasma TV -- one of the best-performing 3D TVs in our labs -- which was connected to my DirecTV ( DTV) HD24 HD DVR, which has been updated to receive 3D programming in the side-by-side format. To view the n3D 3D channel, I needed to go into the TVs setup menu, make sure the TV's transmitter is set to send signals to the glasses, and change the 3D setting from auto to side-by-side. The broadcast, sent over the YES Network and carried by the new DirecTV/Panasonic n3D channel, was shot with two 720p feeds -- one for each eye -- and encoded so the two appear side-by-side in a single HD frame on the TV. A 3D image is created when you view the picture with the TV's 3D glasses. Unlike my experience with the FIFA World Cup soccer games, where the frequent use of longer wide-angle shots added little to games, watching baseball in 3D really made the game come alive, providing a you-are-there perspective to on-field events. For example, you really got a sense of the dimensions of the stadium, and why box seats cost more than those in the bleachers. For the first time viewing a televised baseball game, I had a clear idea of the distance between the mound and home plate, as well as the distance between the bases. Even more impressive were the shots from behind the plate, which provided a glimpse of what the batter sees when he's facing a pitcher, and of how hard it is to hit a 95 mph fastball or nasty curve. Foul tips became more dramatic elements of the game, especially when they came right at you.
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