Consumers find few demos and untrained salespeople

View highlights of the summit

Consumers on the prowl for 3D home entertainment gear have a dizzying array of technical questions to consider before they decide which set-up they’ll take home. And they have to make these decisions — which could easily involve a pricey purchase they have to live with for years — while it’s difficult to find a place to demo any equipment.

Demos aside, not every store does a great job of training associates to answer questions and — in the case of 3D TV — there seem to be plenty right now.

“There’s a lot of confusion out there right now,” says Dan Kenny, VP of merchandizing and marketing for Paul’s TV in Los Angeles. “About 85% of the TVs we sell are 3D-ready but we’re still dealing with the fact that one in five customers think a 3D TV won’t play 2D content.”

Though 3D TV sales at BestBuy aren’t nearly as high, the stores are also under pressure to train employees in the latest TV technologies while making associates available to answer questions and conduct demos.

“It’s definitely a struggle to keep up with what’s happening and on weekends when we’re very crowded there will be a wait to try on a pair of 3D glasses and see how they perform with a TV,” says Shannon LaBeach, home essentials supervisor for the BestBuy at Culver City Westfield Mall.

Makers of 3D TVs admit they didn’t do a great job getting demo equipment to retail stores. Tim Alessi, director of new product development for LG, says his company has been working with retailers recently to make sure the products are out there for consumers to test because it’s the best way to make the case for upgrading.

“Right now we’re dealing with the fact that there’s very little 3D content out there so it’s been hard to motivate some consumers to buy,” Alessi says.

Consumers who want to watch 3D at home in groups of three or four also have to consider the viewing range of a set-up. While LG has made a point of showing consumers its products addresses the issue, many other manufacturers remain silent, leaving consumers to discover the problem only when it’s too late.

Retailers and manufacturers also struggle with the fact that consumers prefer the fit and feel of passive-shutter glasses but find the picture quality of the clunky, expensive active-shutter glasses to be better.

Highlights of the 3D Entertainment Summit East

11:05 a.m.:
Refining the Home Entertainment 3D Ecosystem & Consumer Reaction to 3D Capable Displays

Panelists: Alan Kraemer, chief technology officer, SRS Labs; Ken Lowe, co-founder and VP, Vizio; Steve Shannon, executive VP, RealD Home.

Moderator: Michael Cai, VP research, Interpret

11:40 a.m.:
How Will 3DTV Programming Develop and What does 3DTV Mean for Entertainment?

Panelists: Tim Pastore, VP of production & business development, 3net; Stu Strelzer, broadcast consultant, CBS/U.S. Open; Bernard Mendiburu, VP innovation, Volfoni

Moderator: Chris Chinnock, president, Insight Media

12:15 p.m.:
3D Gaming Is Officially a Trend

Panelists: Frank DeLise, executive producer, Kaos Studios; Samir El Agili, general studio manager, U.S. and South America, Gameloft; Ethan Einhorn, creative director, Sega America; Peter R. Rogina, president, Enchanted Glass Entertainment

Moderator: John Gaudiosi, co-founder, GamerLive.TV

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