Content providers are increasingly streaming 3D video over the Internet, but many computers are not yet 3D ready and users may not be all that interested in that viewing option, analysts said.
Comcast earlier this week said it will stream live 3D footage over the Internet from The Masters golf tournament April 7-11 in Augusta, Georgia. Samsung last week said that it would start streaming 3D movies over the Internet starting in the fourth quarter of this year.
The streams can be played back on 3D HDTVs with Internet connectivity, but some major hardware changes are needed for 3D playback on PCs to gain widespread acceptance, analysts said. Few monitors today are 3D-capable, and most PCs today won't be capable of handling 3D because of poor graphics capabilities, analysts said.
Right now, the PC industry is heavily price driven, and desktops and laptops ship with basic hardware that may be incapable of handling 3D content, said John Jacobs, director of notebook market research at DisplaySearch. Except for enthusiast buyers like gamers, 3D displays are in low demand, Jacobs said.
"Look at the purchase decisions, there's a long laundry list of things driving the notebook market, but 3D is not on that list," Jacobs said. 3D is also of more interest to non-business users rather than to enterprises.
But 3D could be an interesting differentiator in laptops, Jacobs said. Asustek Computer and Acer are already shipping laptops with 3D capabilities for less than $1,000 (£600), but for now those are just fringe features that don't drive purchases.
Last year, worldwide 3D PC display shipments, which include monitors and laptop displays, were less than 1 percent of the total, Jacobs said. There will continue to be limited interest, Jacobs said. DisplaySearch has a conservative forecast of low single-digit worldwide shipments for 3D displays over the next few years.
PCs could be priced at a premium not only because of the 3D screen, but also because of the expensive equipment, including a powerful graphics card, said Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices at Current Analysis. Users won't go to a retail store and pick up 3D PCs like they'd pick up 3D TVs, Greengart said.