Lauren Goode

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LG: 55-Inch Glasses-Free 3-D Screen Is on the Way

As we reported earlier, expect 3-D to be featured alongside “smart” — meaning Internet-connected — TVs at CES this year, as TV makers try a variety of tactics to push high-end television sets with lots of bells and whistles.

One of LG's new Cinema 3-D Smart TVs: Glasses still required.

LG Electronics is no exception to the trend, as the company today unveiled a new line of high-resolution 3-D TVs — part of its Smart TV line — and a 3-D TV with an 84-inch screen.

But what about that glasses-free 3-D? It may come sooner than previously expected, says Seog-ho Ro, LG’s head of global strategy for home entertainment. LG already sells a not-exactly-cheap, 20-inch, glasses-free 3-D monitor and will display another small 3-D screen this week at the annual tech show in Las Vegas.

The company tells AllThingsD that it will have a 55-inch pilot version of its glasses-free 3-D display technology ready for 2013 and hopes to bring it to market by 2014. While it’s too early to know an exact price point, LG confirmed that it will be “expensive,” despite the fact that the company considers its current 3-D TV line to be cost competitive.

Toshiba, which has brought glasses-free 3-D gaming to laptops, has also confirmed that it plans to make “big” glasses-free 3-D TV screens available in the U.S. sometime early this year.

Because of technical obstacles, glasses-free 3-D TV has been relatively slow coming to large screens — it can be hard to experience the 3-D effects from viewing angles other than directly in front of the screen.

Until glasses-free, or autostereoscopic, 3-D becomes mainstream, companies are looking to convince consumers that 3-D glasses really aren’t all that bad (we’ll let consumers speak for themselves on that). LG, for instance, is pushing its new “passive” 3-D glasses that are 20 percent lighter than previous versions and can snap on the front of regular spectacles. LG says it has realized that consumers don’t want to pay for relatively expensive active-shutter 3-D glasses and that it is “getting aggressive about passive.”

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