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Unboxing and Review of Sony XBR-55X850B (55 inch, 4K, 3D, Ultra HD TV)

Remember when I first bought the Sony Playstation 3D Display I said that I bought it to hold me over until 3D sets were more affordable? Well, that time has come.

As most of you know, 3D has not caught on with consumers. I really attribute this to very poor marketing on the parts of all the 3D TV manufacturers more than consumers not being interested in 3D. After all 3D movies are still breaking records at the box office. Also, last year I bought a Sony HDR-TD30V 3D Camcorder (which I’ve been meaning to blog about!). Normally when you show vacation videos to friends and family they grimace. But the 3D quality of this camcorder was so incredible that they ask to see them! It’s just a shame that Sony stopped making it (so grab it while you can).

Compare this to 3D TVs. For years they’ve been thousands and thousands of dollars–at a time when not too many years have passed since people bought their first plasma or LCD HDTV. The quality of the early passive 3D sets (glasses that don’t use batteries) was horrible, and active 3D (glasses that use batteries) was just too much of a hassle–you had to buy expensive glasses and they never seemed to be charged when you wanted them to be. Worse, 3D movies often cost a substantial premium over regular movies. I remember a few years ago cable companies like ESPN and Verizon toyed at 3D channels, but they flopped because manufacturers couldn’t sell enough sets. Similarly, Netflix pushed out 3D content in a lackluster and half-hearted way–instead of top blockbuster movies there are a bunch of low-budget films in their 3D menu.

Ironically, the thing that might save 3D is 4K. For those of you who don’t know, 4K (or Ultra HD) refers to a picture that’s 4x the resolution of HD. In other words, instead of 1080 pixels up-and-down, 4K TVs have a resolution of 3840 x 2160. I can spout out all the numbers I want, but I’d suggest you go to a Best Buy or a Sony Store to check it out for yourself.

Once I saw my first 4K picture, I knew it was time for me after 10 years of watching a 37″ LCD and a 24″ Playstation 3D Display to bite the bullet and get a new TV.

The first 4K sets came out last year. I deliberately held off on the first generation sets, knowing that they tend to be buggy and that the price would plummet. This year they did, to a certain extent.

I saw the Sony XBR55X850B 55-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz 3D LED TV in a Sony Store for the first time, and I knew instantly it was the one for me.

One thing I absolutely hated about last year’s passive 3D/4K set was that they put these butt-ugly “Dumbo ears” speakers on the sides of their set. Happily, this year they got rid of it and replaced it with a simple, sleek black border. While it’s a 53″ set, it fits perfectly on my entertainment console which is about 50-51″ end-to-end. The screen is a glossy sheen which is almost mirror-like, so if you have bright lighting in the house near where you sit you’ll want to turn it off.

I ordered the set online and it arrived from Sony quickly. The box is big and really heavy, requiring two men to carry it.

Sony Bravia 4K TV Box

I excitedly began to unpack the box but I couldn’t figure out where to open it. So I took some scissors and cut along the side of the box; luckily I didn’t accidentally jam the scissors into the screen or a cable. I would later realize that those two white tabs you see on front of the box are meant to be twisted, and once you do the box comes apart quite easily. I’ll keep that in mind in 2024 when it’s time to get my next TV.

The TV itself was well protected by styrofoam, and they used the styrofoam packaging intelligently by putting accessories into the styrofoam.

accessories packed in to the sony 4k tv

The accessories were:

– User manual and documentation
– Two metallic feet that made up the TV stand, with a bag of screws
– An “old school” remote with tons of buttons
– A smaller remote that had a touchpad and just a few buttons

sony 4K tv stand and remotes

Okay, let’s talk about the TV stand for a second. While the photos you see all show the stand on the far left and right of the unit, you can also install the stand so that they’re closer to the middle of the unit (just to the left and right of the LED in the center).

Problem is the TV is really, really heavy so you need a helper to help lift the TV while you screw in the feet. Another problem is that the documentation is really, really awful. There are a couple of tiny drawings that don’t tell you anything–and the last thing you want after you’ve shelled out a few thousand dollars is to break your new TV. After 30-40 minutes I finally figured it out.

By default, the feet look like this:

tv stand for sony 4k

Notice how there are silver screws in the stand. What I eventually found out is that these silver screws are meant to stay in place if you want to put your feet on the right and left edges of the TV, but they need to be removed if you want to put your feet more towards the center.

To mount the feet on the right and left edges, you need to pry off an oval plastic cover (again, prying things off a $2300 TV gets the blood pressure rising a bit, but it comes off pretty easily). Then, you stick the feet in so the flat “notch” on the feet faces forward. Then, taking the two black screws, you secure the feet to the TV–screwing them securely but not too tight (if they’re too tight or too loose, you’re screwed).

It’s the same process with mounting the feet near the middle, except that you have to remove those silver screws before the feet will fit. Also, in my case while the two feet looked identical from the outside, one will only fit on the left and the other will only fit on the right. Again, I wish they could have been clearer about this, but luckily my 95 pound wife has superhuman strength.

I have a 50″ entertainment center from Crate and Barrel. I originally mounted the feet in the middle thinking the TV wouldn’t fit, but it turns out while it has a 55 inch screen (actually, 54.6″ to be precise) measured diagonally, it only measures about 48 5/8 inches from end to end, so it fit perfectly.

I was very happy with the number of ports on the TV.

ports on sony 4k TV


Specifically, there are four HDMI connections; in the past I was always plugging things like my camcorder, my Wii, my PS3, my Xbox, my Chomecast into a single HDMI port on my old TV, but those days are no more, just click “Input” on the remote and you can go from one HDMI device to another.

I also liked that they still supported Component and Composite video to hook up my older devices. For reasons I’ll go thorugh below, the Ethernet connector was nice to have too.

There’s also an MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) port. This is a standard that Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, Nokia, and Silicon Image are trying to put in place, probably a response to Apple’s AirPlay and Google’s Chromecast. Since I’m someone who uses a lot of Apple products I probably won’t have much for this, but my wife with her Samsung phone no doubt will.

Finally, it came time to turn on the TV. Right away, the picture looked stunning. As you can see, the screen is so shiny that it’ll reflect any light near you like a mirror, so you’ll be wanting to move your lights or turn them off. But the LED display was much brighter than anything I’ve seen on an LCD display, and much crisper than anything I’ve seen on a plasma display.

The first step it wants you to do is to select a language. You can see that they also want to encourage you to start using their smaller, smart remote.

sony 4k TV welcome screen

Next came the time to connect your Internet. You can choose a wireless connection, a wired connection, or skip it.

connect sony 4k to internet

I’d definitely suggested a wired connection close to your router if you have one, especially if you plan on streaming 4K content. Wireless is just going to be too slow and klunky.

I have Verizon FIOS, and if you don’t have it I strongly suggest you get it (if you sign up through this link, we can both get points :)). I have the 50 MBps plan and I have no problems streaming 4K or 3D from my TV. What nice about FIOS is that no matter how many others have the service in your building or neighborhood, your network performance doesn’t slow down. And from my experience, the fiber optic connection to your house is just so much cleaner and more stable than a regular coax connection.

The next step was a software update.

software update for sony 4K tv

Now granted, ever since Sony decided to use a Playstation 3 update to wipe out the OtherOS feature from the PS3 without warning to its customers who used it, I’ve never really been able to fully trust Sony again. But given how quickly things are changing with regards to 4K, HDMI, USB, and other standards and specifications, it’s nice to know that as long as things rely on software, your TV will be up-to-date.

The next step was setting privacy settings.


Given all the news with the NSA and incursions and breaches into privacy by every company from Target to Google to Facebook, I was torn about giving up too much information. After all, what you watch on TV is very, very personal information, and while ostensibly they’re using it for testing purposes, you can bet they’re also selling the data as well. Plus, having that camera on top of the TV (which doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose now, but I’m guessing it will in the future) is something else a little unnerving.

But at the end of the day I figured I’d give permission for them to share my TV watching habits, just to see how good they are at things like “recommending TV shows” (the only benefit they call out here).

The next step was choosing whether to use the built-in Tuner or using a Set-top box. I chose set-top box.

set up ir blaster

Here’s where I got a little confused. I have a TiVo (with a CableCARD from Verizon) and not the cable-company provided set-top box. They’ll bring you through the screen and ask you to choose your cable provider. (I made the mistake of choosing “Verizon”; after a while I realized I should have chosen “Provider not listed (N/A) and then “TiVo”).

You then set up the “IR blaster”, which is a cable that plugs into one of the USB ports on one hand, and has buds that look like headphones that you place near the infared port of your set-top box. It’s an interesting approach, where they decided to put “smart remote” features in the TV instead of the remote.

ir blaster for sony 4k tv

At long last, my setup was complete.

sony bravia setup complete

The next thing I saw was a glorious image of the Yankees playing the Rays on the YES Network.

beautiful hd picture on sony 4k tv

This photo from a iPhone can’t do it justice, of course, but the picture was bright and crisp, world different from my old LCD set. The TV network broadcasts in 1080p, and the HD picture looked stunningly beautiful. The colors just bounced off the screen.

My next challenge was to go to the on-screen display of the TV. If the TV has an Achilles Heel, this is it. It was next to impossible to try to figure out how to get to the on-screen features in the first place, much less use them.

The first thing I tried to do was to swipe up on the “Discover” button on the little remote, which gave me this screen.

discover sony

In the mind of some Sony Product Manager somewhere, I can guess what they were thinking. “People are dumb and don’t want to navigate through menus. So let’s read their minds and suggest to them exactly what content they want to see”.

Great idea, but poorly executed. I only see this as a Trojan horse by which Sony is going to try to make more money for itself by “suggesting” that you watch new movies–and pay them a hefty price for them. I’m sorry, I just paid half a month’s salary for your TV, and I’m not going to be shelling out more dough any time soon.

I then went to the “big complicated” remote and pressed the button to get to the menu.

This brought me to a menu of boxes after boxes after boxes of “Apps” for their TV. I started to feel like Goldilocks–the previous menu was too small, this menu was too big. It was like they copied the worst parts of Microsoft’s Windows 8 (you know, the one everyone hates). I wish they were more like Google and decided to copy Apple instead.

poor ux on bravia tv

Happily, there was a big red button on the remote that says “Netflix”, so I pressed that. I signed in to my NetFlix account. Strangely, I didn’t see the 3D content menu that I see when connecting through the PS3, but I did see a 4K menu with the following movies and TV shows:

– Ghostbusters
– Smurfs 2
– Philadelphia
– Breaking Bad
– House of Cards
– Oceans
– Forests
– Flowers
– Deserts

The menu is pretty small for now, but it’ll no doubt grow in time. I clicked on Breaking Bad.

Again, I don’t think these iPhone photos are going to do it justice, but the picture was stunning. infinitesimal details could be seen on the picture, the colors were bright and the picture was almost sharper than real life. There was a surreal quality about it, as if it were ‘too clear’ and ‘too bright’, like the first videotape images from the 1960s. But it was as jaw-droppingly impressive as the first time I saw 4K.


4k house of cards


Next, I connected my PS3 to the second HDMI port and popped in a 3D Blu-Ray of How to Train Your Dragon.

I was expecting passive 3D to be not as sharp as active 3D. But the picture was as crystal clear as it is in the theater, with virtually no ghosting, clear details and colors, and brightness that you can’t get with active 3D. I tried both the passive 3D glasses they supplied with the TV, as well as a set of Real3D glasses I “borrowed” from the theater. The 3D popped out of the screen in a way that was larger than life.

Another rather exciting feature is Playstation Now. While they’re supposedly in beta right now, the screen looked like the feature was up and running, and even let me sync one of my PS3 Dualshock controllers to the TV.

playstation now home page on bravia 4k tv

When I signed into my PSN account I saw menus that looked exactly like the Playstation Store on the PS3. I didn’t try buying a game yet, but supposedly this will let you play all kinds of games right on your TV dating back to the PSOne, the PS2, and the PS3 right on your TV. If Sony is smart about their pricing (which I don’t think they are at this moment), this could be a huge competitive advantage for them against other up-and-coming TV manufacturers like Samsung and LG.


Finally, I navigated through all the apps and found the YouTube app. I know YouTube supports uploading of 4K videos, but I wasn’t sure if the app on the TV was properly designed to be able to play them. I did a quick search for “4K” and loaded up the first video I saw, which seemed kind of blocky and choppy.

But then I selected another video which were of random scenes from Vancouver, British Columbia. I don’t know if my FIOS connection (which should be at 50Mbps, more than enough for streaming 4K) just needed time to ramp up, or if the previous video was just not very well done, but this video was phenomenal. The colors popped off the screen, and you could see the absolute precision of the details in the picture.

4k on youtube

Again, I know my iPhone pictures don’t do it justice, but they were as jaw-dropping to see here as they were in the store.

4k on sony tv

Usually when I make a big purchase like this I have a tinge of buyer’s remorse afterwards. In this case I didn’t at all. The picture was phenomenal, the display looked beautiful, and I was pretty happy with the feature set. If you’ve been on the fence about buying a new 4K TV, I’d say this one is well worth the price.

And while it’s tough paying for a TV you know is going to go down in price in a year, there are a few ways you can save a little money. First, consider buying the TV on Amazon, where the current price is about $700 under retail.

Second, use a Sony or Playstation Rewards Credit Card and you can get up to 5x the points back for your purchase in a Sony Rewards account. That’s about 10,000 points, or about a $115 value.

Finally, until 7/31/14, you can visit http://sony.com/movieoffer and choose up to 5 movies that you can stream from your TV for free. Unfortunately they’re not 4K movies, and they’re not even all that great, but they’re free (titles include: After Earth, American Hustle, The Amazing Spider Man, Captain Phelps, Elysium, Grown Ups 2, 21 Jump Street, Mall Cop, Men in Black 2, Moneyball, Friends with Benefits, Stepbrothers, The Holiday, Battle Los Angeles, The Green Hornet).

3D Movies Available on NetFlix and the Playstation 3

Earlier this year, Netflix announced that they were finally starting to support streaming of 3D movie and TV shows. As of this writing, they’re supporting it only on a handful of devices: a number of models of LG televisions and…the Playstation 3!

That’s right, if you were one of the ones who bought a Playstation 3 and a Playstation 3D display, you can watch Netflix movies in 3D by using the Netflix app on your PS3. When you start the app, it’ll automatically detect that you’re watching through a PS3. You’ll see a new category called “3D” in your recommendations.

Shows that are 3D-ready will have a “3D” icon when you select it.


When you start watching one of these movies, you’ll see this message appear asking if you want to watch in 3D or 2D:

do you want to play this title in 3D

In order to use 3D on Netflix, you do need a fast Internet connection. I was trying to use mine over a FIOS Wifi connection that only reached speeds of about 2Mbps, far too slow to handle the high-speeds needed to stream 3D in HD. Netflix recommends at least 6Mbps, with an ideal setting at 12Mbps. I ended up running a long wire from my router directly to my PS3 in an attempt to speed it up, and it worked just fine.

The bad news is the pickin’s are pretty slim. You won’t see movies you expect like Avatar, Avengers, or even top notch IMAX documentaries like Space Station or Hubble.

There are a few annoying things about the Netflix interface. While there are 3D movies beyond the 35 they show you in the opening screen, there’s no way to navigate to them. You almost have to stumble upon them accidentally. Second, they routinely take old movies down without notice, so if you’re in the middle of one and leave you might not see it when you come back.

Here’s the entire list of 3D movies they do have. I’ll keep this list updated to show new ones as well as ones that have become unavailable–in some cases you’ll be able to search and find these old titles, but in other cases they’ll be gone for good.

  • IMAX
    • The Ultimate Wave: Tahiti: IMAX (2010, 45m)
    • Dinosaurs Alive!: IMAX (2007, 39m)
    • Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk (2008, 44m)
    • Wild Ocean: IMAX (2008, 42m)
    • Rescue: IMAX (2010, 46m)
    • Ultimate G’s : Zac’s Flying Dream (IMAX) (2007, 37m)
    • Arabia (IMAX) (2010, 46m)
    • Mummies: Secrets of the Pharoahs (IMAX) (2007, 38m)
    • Dinosaurs:Giants of Patagonia (IMAX) (2007, 40m)
    • Legends of Flight (IMAX)
  • Documentaries
    • Live Fire (2011, 3 episodes)
    • Skeleton, Inc (2011, 1 episode)
    • Feeding Time (2011, 3 episodes)
    • African Wild (2011, 8 episodes)
    • Pina (2011, 1h43m)
    • Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010, 1h30m)
    • Sky Soldier (2012, 48m)
  • Martial Arts
    • Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (2012, 2hr, 2min)
  • Sports
    • Red Bull Way Back Home (2011, 26m)
    • Nitro Circus 3D (2012, 1h31m)
    • Red Bull Rampage: The Evolution 2010 (2011, 26m)
    • Art of Flight (2011, 1h20m)
    • Red Bull Cubed Flight
  • Animated
    • Animals United (2010, 1h33m)
    • Animen: The Galactic Battle (2012, 1hr24m)
    • The Dino King (2013, 1h28m)
    • Oscar’s Oasis 3D (2011, 5 episodes)
    • Legends of Valhalla: Thor (2011, 1h19m)
    • Little Brother, Big Trouble (2012, 1h13m)
    • Space Dogs (2010, 1h28m)
    • The Little Prince (2010, 5 episodes)
    • Freddy Frogface (2011, 1h24m)
    • Chaplin & Co. (2012, 5 episodes)
    • Angelo Rules 3D (2009, 5 episodes)
    • Plankton Invasion 3D (2012, 5 episodes)
    • A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures (2010, 1h25m)
    • Example Short XVI 3D: Elephant’s Dream
    • Saving Santa
    • Beowulf
  • Horror
    • Shark Night (2011, 1h30m)
    • Scary Tales (2011, 4 episodes)
    • Sadako (2012, 1h36m)
    • Shock Labyrinth (2009, 1h28m)
    • Tormented (2011, 1h23m)
    • The Hole (2009, 1h31m)
  • Drama
    • Don 2 (2011, 2h22m)
    • Dangerous Ishhq (2012, 2h8m)
    • Immortals (1h50m)

  • Family Movies
    • I Heart Shakey (2012, 1h42m)

With the exception of the IMAX documentaries and a few of the regular documentaries and sports movies, there’s honestly not a lot worth spending your time on. But the IMAX documentaries are truly stunning in full 3D. The sad thing is, it looks like Netflix is investing the minimal amount possible in its 3D efforts, and when people don’t flock to watch these awful movies, they’ll probably conclude that there’s no interest in 3D. But hopefully those of us with 3D-capable sets can show our interest by at least watching the “good” ones.

Top 10 Playstation 3D Games of All Time

In a lot of ways we’ve come a long way since 3D was first announced for the Playstation 3.

First, with the coming of the PS4 this year, the days of the PS3, of course, are numbered. Back when the PS3 was launched, there were 155 million PS2 units out there, and ensuring backwards compatibility with PS2 games was a major demand. But with barely less than half that number of PS3, it’s likely we’ll be seeing the end of the line for a lot of our favorite PS3 games.

Second, Sony’s experiment a few years ago to make 3D a household word just like they did with Blu-ray, by selling a deeply discounted 3D monitor, was largely a bust. I, of course, was one of those who ran out and bought it at full price, only to find out months later that they couldn’t move units at a fraction of the price I paid. The monitor was (and is) still a great one, but there were too many idiosyncrasies about it–it didn’t come with a built-in tuner for TV or cable, it didn’t have a remote control, the volume control and configuration buttons were annoying as heck to use, and so on. A shame, because to this day I use the monitor as a secondary monitor for my PC and love it, and of course it’s still the primary monitor I use to watch 3d Blurays and play 3D games.

In celebration of the denouement of 3D on the Playstation I decided to try to put together a definitive list of the all time best stereoscopic 3D games to ever grace the Playstation 3. I scoured dozens of review sites, retail sites, and blogs dating from the first 3D games, and compiled this list based on which ones were mentioned the most times, which ones elicited the most positive comments, and which ones were mentioned consistently time and time again. These are the ones that have stood the test of time.

10) Zen Pinball 2 (PSN download) – This PSN title is a relatively new one, and yet the 3D effects are eye-popping amazing. Zen Pinball was always a good pinball simulation, but the effects in these tables are nothing short of amazing. I admit, I’m a bigger fan of Pinball Arcade, which does realistic simulations of real-life pinball machines instead of the fantastical, sometimes over-the-top-in-realism pinball machines that Zen Pinball has, but its support of 3D made me feel for the first time that I was actually playing a real pinball machine rather than a 2D simulation. I’ve heard that Pinball Arcade is working on a 3D version of its tables, but chances are slim we’ll see them on the PS3, so Zen Pinball 2 is the only game in town for true 3D pinball action.

3D demo available on PSN? Yes

9) Killzone 3 – With both Playstation Move and 3D support, Killzone 3 brings combat simulation to a whole new level, to a point where some have reported that it’s almost too realistic. You walk through the scenes, past buildings, vehicles, and even debris floating around you. There’s a great sense of depth whether you’re walking or driving. Killzone 3 has been called one of the great first-person shooters for the PS3, and if you’ve never experienced a FPS in true 3D, it’s an amazing one to try out.

3D demo available on PSN? Yes (as Killzone 3 Single Player 3D Demo)

8) Resistance 3 – Another great game on its own in 2D where the added depth of the 3D takes the gameplay to another level. Some have said that it makes shooting the sniper rifle feel real, as you scope out your target with real depth of field that helps your aim and your shots. The scenery and environment are done exceptionally well, as are the explosions and creepy alien monsters.

3D demo available on PSN?

7) God of War Origins
– The God of War series is of course critically renowned, but the 3D support lets you play the games with amazing depth and realism, from judging distances to jump, to watching as Kratos seems to swing right out of your TV screen at you. To see what I mean, download the excellent free demo from PSN and try it out for yourse.f

3D demo available on PSN? Yes

6) Child of Eden – This is by most accounts a “trippy” game that works like a shooter, except that you’re treated to an amazing array of colorful, psychedelic experiences set to soothing electronic music. It works with the Move controller; you point at the screen and shoot multiple targets as you proceed through the world on a rail. Players have described it as breathtakingly beautiful.

3D demo available on PSN? No

5) Gran Turismo 5 – This is another example of a game where graphics and gameplay are excellent to begin with, and adding the 3D just accentuates what’s good about the game. Playing in 3D using a Logitech Steering Wheel is about the closest thing to real driving as I’ve ever experienced outside of a car. Viewing the 3D inside the car puts you right in the cockpit, where you really feel enclosed inside the car looking out at the road outside. I won’t go as far as saying the 3D is the best in the world for a driving game (that nod will go to Motorstorm: Apocalypse, below), but for a realistic driving simulation it’s not bad.

3D demo available on PSN? No

4) Wipeout HD (PSN download) – This is a ridiculously high-speed racing game where like Anakin Skywalker you’re zipping at breakneck speeds in the air in a hovering air ship. The effect is something like a roller coaster, where you’re speeding in conduits, looping around, and twisting and turning every which way. The result is a heart-pounding experience.

3D demo available on PSN? Yes

3) Super Stardust HD (PSN download) – If you’re a fan of the game “Asteroids” from the 1970s, you’ll appreciate this 21st century version of it. You’re a ship circling around a planet, destroying floating space rocks along the way. As enemies chase you, you can navigate the field of asteroids a la Han Solo to try to destroy them. The outer space effects in this game are excellent, from the star fields to the rotating asteroids of different shapes and sizes to the amazing effect as things explode and you see flashes of light and debris hurtling toward you.

3D Demo available on PSN? Yes

2) Motorstorm Apocalypse – The 3D in this game is phenomenal. You’re a driver in a brutal street race in San Francisco after the Big Quake. As you’re driving down the streets of the post-apocalyptic city, you can’t help but admire the dystopian details all around you. The physics are great, and the demolition derby environment makes for some interesting races. Unlike with GT5, the 3D in this game was built from the ground up rather than cobbled on, and it shows.

3D Demo available on PSN? 

1) Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – By virtually all accounts, this is the 3D game on the PS3 by which other games are judged. The story, action, and gameplay are of course top notch, but the 3D really lets you experience the lush scenery in a way that you’ll truly immerse yourself in the story. There are times I’d just walk around as Drake admiring the various scenery and attention to detail.

3D Demo available on PSN? No

The great news is, as the world prepares for the PS3, some of these PS3 games are cheaper than they’ve ever been. Most were $59.99 at one point, but now you can get 3-4 of these games for that price. Time will tell whether 3D will continue to be embraced in the PS4 as much as it was in the PS3, but if it isn’t then at the very least you’ll have a great showcase of titles to play if you have these titles and keep your old PS3 around.

There were, of course, a ton of games that were also mentioned (the PS3 has over 100 games that support 3D now), but these were universally touted as the best of the best. But if you have your own favorite Playstation 3D games, leave a comment below!  In the future, I’ll devote additional posts for “honorable mentions”.

Days 12-14: Diving, Basketball, Team Synchronized Swimming, Track

As we got to the latter part of the Olympics, we got to see the US women’s 4×100 relay team of Tianna Madison, Carmelita Jeter, Bianca Knight, and Allyson Felix set a new world record.

world record 4x100

We also saw the start of team synchronized swimming, which I’m starting to get, sort of.

synchronized swimming 3d

Platform diving kicked off. Somehow looking at the 10m platform in 3D makes you realize how high 10 meters really is (it’s about the roof of a 3-story building).

10 meter platform

We also saw 3D basketball coverage kick off. As with the other sports, there were some fascinating 3D perspectives. Here’s what it’s like to be a basketball rim ready to take a free throw from Kobe.

kobe free throw 3d



Days 10 and 11 – Synchronized Swimming, the Fastest Man in the World, more Track and Field

On days 10 and 11 we were treated to Usain Bolt once again proving that he is the fastest person in the world.

usain bolt in 3d

We also got to see a brand new sport in 3D: Synchronized Swimming. Once again the combination of the 3D and the innovative camera placements and angles gave me a whole new appreciation of the sport–and of how freakishly long these ladies have to hold their breath and do everything upside-down.

syncrhonized swimming in 3d

Although I admit, I still don’t get it all the time, although now I can not get it in 3D.

synchronized swimming

We saw a number of new Track and Field events that had added a whole new perspective on familiar activities. Here’s what the pole vault looks like.

pole vault in 3d


Some more highlights of day 11…Epke Zonderland’s thrilling performance in the high bar.

epke zonderland


And Ally Raisman’s brilliant gold medal performance.

ally raisman 3d



Day 9 – Track and Field, Phelps last race, Trampoline

Days 9 and 10 of the Olympics 3D coverage saw the end of the swimming competition.

The last swimming competition of the day saw the 4×100 men’s swimming team for the USA win gold, which happened to be Michael Phelps’ 22nd and last Olympic medal. Here are the guys celebrating after their win.

phelps 22 medals

A ton of coverage was given to the trampoline competition, one that most people would normally skip but which I suspect was chosen for 3D coverage because of the heights the participants reach.

trampoline in 3d

One very, very cool thing was seeing the 3D view from the top, which is cool enough in 2D but even more interesting in 3D where the gymnast literally popped out at the screen toward you.

top view of trampoline

There were more track and field events that got the 3D treatment, including the long jump where one of the camera shots has the jumper running toward you and literally jumping out of your TV.

long jump in 3d

Hurdles were also pretty neat. Again, the cameras seemed strategically placed to give you a feeling of depth.

3d hurdles




Days 7 and 8: More Swimming, Kayaking, Gymnastics

I’m getting a kick out of Bob Costas’s introductions. Today he made a hurried introduction to the action, very quickly ratting through the day’s events and then getting a little obsessed with repeating the name “Aliya Mustafina”. I get the sense that the 3D intro is probably the last thing he does before he gets out for the night, so he gets a little punchy. I’m a big fan of his humor, so I definitely appreciate it.

One thing that NBC/Panasonic also did was add in what sounds like the BBC’s coverage of the action, which quite frankly I prefer to the American coverage at times. I get the sense that NBC’s announcers get paid by the word and get paid double for superlatives. The British announcers just seem a lot calmer and lets you draw your own excitement from the action itself.

I admit, there are still moments I see the 3D and gasp. I think so far in the first couple of days, the most spectacular shots have been of the gymnastics and the kayak/canoeing.

Here are some more 3D shots of the kayak.

kayak in 3d

And another 3D shots of gold medalist Gabby Douglas in her floor routine, popping right out of the screen at you. I have to say, I have a whole new appreciation of the sport, seeing the lengths, depths, and heights the gymnasts really have to go through that a 2D TV doesn’t quite give justice to.

gabby douglas in 3d

Swimming is coming to a close. here’s Missy Franklin in the Woman’s 200M backstroke shattering the world record.

missy franklin in 3d

And finally, with the start of the track and field events we get a few new scenes to admire. Here’s the stunning Olympic stadium by night.

olympic stadium in 3d

The track events also got underway. Again, 3D gave a really unique perspective on the events. Here’s a shot of runners lining up for one of the ladies’ races.

lining up for race

And Tomasz Majewski of Poland getting the first track and field medal with this shot put throw.

3d shotput

Overall, I’d say the 3D was effective in two ways. First, it really made you feel like you were there. Second, it really helped in understanding perspective that’s lost in 2D, such as the length of the track and the heights and distance of the shotput.

Days 5 and 6 of the Olympics in 3D: Gold Rush

3D coverage continued on the NBC 3D channel. Looks like NBC may be waking up to the fact that people are watching this channel–they actually have Bob Costas starting the coverage at 5 AM explaining the events of the day that’ll be featured, instead of just throwing viewers into random coverage. They’ve also been better about putting announcers on.

On days 5 and 6, coverage continued to focus on swimming, diving, gymnastics, and canoeing. I’ve been enjoying NBC’s live streaming coverage during the daytime, and have started to watch sports like archery, volleyball, water polo, fencing, and table tennis, but for the 3D coverage it’s clear that they’ve selected only the most popular sports and the ones that translate to 3D the best.

I’ve gotten into my routine of watching the same-day coverage on regular TV and then tuning in to my favorite moments in 3D the next day. What’s cool is that I’m getting over the “whoa this is cool” factor of the 3D and just enjoying the coverage for what it is. I would much rather them have edited the footage down to the top moments instead of showing unedited action (after a while the swimming heats all start to look the same).

But hey, no complaints. I got to relive great US moments like the US Women’s Gymnastics team taking the all-around gold.

3d womens awards ceremony

…and the US 4×200 team getting gold as well…

mens swimming gold medals

Days 3 and 4 of the Olympics in 3D – More Swimming, Women’s Gymnastics, Diving, Canoeing

By now I’ve gotten a bit used to the raw and unedited stream of 3D content from NBC. At first I tried to watch the 3D action instead of regular Olympics coverage, but I found myself constantly seeing spoilers on random Web sites and social networking sites. So, I figured I’d watch the coverage live during the day, watch some of NBC’s primetime coverage, and then for any “special” moments I’ll tape the 3D action and watch it the next day.

Days 3 and 4 of the Olympics brought us some new sports in 3D. The first was women’s gymnastics. Here’s Gabby Douglas in the preliminaries on Team USA’s way…spoiler alert…to the team all-around gold.

3d gymnastics balance beam

The 3D really helps you appreciate how very narrow that balance beam is.

They also aired some canoeing. I normally don’t watch this sport at all, but watching the water splashing out from the TV made it fascinating television.

olympic canoeing 3d

Finally, there was synchronized springboard diving. Again, fascinating to be able to watch the divers in sync in full 3D. You could see every twist and turn.

synchronized diving

Overall, not a bad selection of events to be shown in 3D. I’ll be DVRing the whole day tomorrow to watch…spoiler alert…the women’s gymnastics team and men’s relay swimming team take the gold 🙂

Day 2 of the Olympics in 3D – Swimming and Men’s Gymnastics

Well, since I’m officially obsessed with 3D Olympics coverage, I thought I’d give some more observations.

NBC started broadcasting again today (Sunday, July 29) right on time at 5 AM. They covered swimming (including Michael Phelps’ stunning loss), as well as men’s gymnastics. While the NBC 3D Schedule is now completely filled out until the closing ceremonies, it’s clear that there’s very little production that went into scheduling these events. You’ll basically see a block of several hours of one event, followed by several hours of another event, a few random rebroadcasts in between, and even some random 3D general interest segments. And of course the same commercials over and over and over again. What the advertisers don’t realize is that after watching the same commercial 50 times in a row, it puts a pretty bad taste in your mouth. Also, I kind of wish that NBC would have given more detail than “you’ll see swimming and gymnastics for 8 hours”, especially since we’re on 24 hour tape delay. But we’ve already covered why they don’t.

Once again the coverage started with no commentary, just the ambient noise from the arena, which I loved. It really made me feel like I was there. I’m also watching a lot of the streaming commentary-less events on the Web, and I’m really struck about how little I miss the commentary. Although I think some of the people at NBC are just realizing that their 3D coverage doesn’t have any commentary, as by the time 3D gymnastics started to be aired they started to superimpose the audio from regular announcers on the 3D footage. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

The 3D, again, was stunning, adding a whole new dimension (no pun intended…okay pun intended) to the telecast. With swimming, being able to see all the lanes in perspective gave a much, much better feeling of being in the action and a much more precise view of how each swimmer was doing. Here’s a picture of the men on the starting blocks–notice how much difference seeing the perspective makes (again, use the “cross-eyed” method of viewing).

3d olympics swimming

Similarly, the men’s gymnastics really came alive. It seems that they have fewer cameras than the 2D telecast, but they’re placed very strategically so you can see gymnasts from the best angles. On floor exercises, you can see them running right at you.

3d mens gymnastics

It’s funny, taking these screenshots is making me flash back to the 2004 Athens game, when NBC broadcast a special OTA channel of its HD footage, and I was frantically recording and taking screenshots of the amazing HD picture 🙂 Time will tell if eight years from now 3D will be relatively ubiquitous to the point where I’ll look back and think all these screenshots I’m taking are silly 🙂

I wish I could stay home and watch all the 3D footage, but of course I’ve got my day job tomorrow. So I set the Tivo for 13 hours, which should just about fill it up each night. I’ll check in from time to time over the next few weeks.