3D coverage of the World Cup will not be seen by many, but has so far received mixed reviews. By the end of May, more than 25,000 3D capable flat screen televisions had been sold in Europe. That must be seen against the background of more than 250 million television sets that will be sold worldwide this year. Televisions represent one of the largest segments of the global consumer electronics market, which research organisation GfK forecasts will grow by 5% this year.

Although 3D television is still in its infancy, GfK reports that almost every notable television manufacturer now offers screens with 3D settings, or will soon have them in their product range.

A survey of 120 electronic retailers in Germany, France and the United Kingdom found that 3D televisions will be an integral part of product ranges in future.

Other trends include the use of LED backlights, enabling thinner screens that consume less power. While high-definition is now well-established, the definition of television as a consumer electronics device is becoming less distinct, as products can now also connect to the internet and stream online video.

Among those retailers surveyed, 90% said that internet television also sparked interest among their customers. It is evident that an increasing number of households have devices with a range of additional multimedia functions. However, only very few consumers are actually taking advantage of the rising convergence of technology in the living room. Many continue to use the different devices for their standard functions, for example, solely as televisions or laptops.

The research was presented at a GfK event entitled The Success of Sound and Vision, held in Munich.

Sony is the latest manufacturer to launch a range of 3DTV sets and is promoting them heavily during the World Cup coverage. Sony is covering 25 of the matches in 3D, although football fans in Britain will only be able to see them live in a limited number of cinemas.

ESPN 3D is screening the matches in America. A reviewer for Home Entertainment magazine described “a convincing sense of depth” but said the far side of the stadium appeared “oddly flat and seemingly near vertical” and “highly unnatural looking”.

Some have commented that stereoscopic coverage makes it easier to see where the ball is space, but it seems that the low-angle close shots show off the depth to best effect.

The adult entertainment industry is meanwhile predictably excited by 3D. A British adult channel is providing live and pre-recorded 3D programming, viewable on an ordinary set using anaglyph glasses given away in national newspapers.

“The combination of adult content and 3D will drive consumer adoption of 3D technologies in perhaps an even more dramatic fashion than adult content did with internet adoption,” said Bob James, the director of programming at Babestation, “making for a more personal experience.”