Saturday, December 3, 2011

Is Sony 3D Blu-Ray compatible with passive 3D HDTV? YES!

Updated Dec 4, 2011 - After my 2nd contact with Vizio tech support and my third contact with Sony Support and some additional trial and error, I was able to get the 3D blue ray to play with my passive Vizio 3D TV.   See the Dec 4 update below for how to do it.
Dec. 3, 2011 - I wasn't planning to buy 3D when I upgraded from by 10+ year old 32 inch (20th century cathode ray technology) TV, but the price and capability looked so attractive, I couldn't resist.  Now I'm wrestling with the challenge of getting a Sony 3D Blu-Ray to work with a Vizio Passive 3D TV. 

I bought a Sony BVD-E780W 3D Blu ray home theater in a box from Best Buy, but so far I can't play play the 3D Narnia Promotional Blu-Ray included with the home theater system on my Vizio E3D420VX passive 3D TV.    The Blu-Ray plays fine in 2-D, but won't play 3D.   After talking with tech support at both Vizio & Sony, and not getting a definite answer from either, I'm thinking that the Sony home theater requires an active shutter sync signal before it will play 3D Blu-Ray content.  I can play 3D content using the Sony online apps included with the home theater, so I think this limitation is associated with the integrated 3D Blu-Ray player.

It would be great to hear from anyone who has experience interfacing Sony 3D Blu-Ray to a passive 3D HDTV to find out if and how you got it working.

Here is what happens when I try to play a 3D Blu-Ray: After the introductory sequence and copyright notice the Blu-Ray menu says "play - set up - scene select". When I choose play, I get two choices, 3D or 2D. The default choice is 3D, but there is a pop up window that says: " This feature requires a Blu-Ray 3D player connected to a 3D display. Your Blu-ray player has not detected that it is connected to a 3D display. Please consult your Blu-Ray 3D player manual or player support website for more information."

At this point, if I am blocked from using the menu on the TV to select 3D mode.  The 3D mode is visible as shown below, not selectable at this point.  When I use the arrows on the remote to navigate the cursor highlight won't move to the 3D box.
There seems to be a communication stand-off between the TV and the Blu-ray at this point.  Vizio tech support told me that as soon as the TV senses 3D input, it will switch to 3D mode, but Sony says the player will not play 3D unless it detects a 3D TV.   Here is what the TV menu looks like at this point, but 3D is simply not selectable.  
My firmware is up-to-date on both the TV and home theater, and they are connected with a 10.2 Gbps HDMI cable.  I think the 3D TV & HDMI connection are OK because I can display 3D content from the Sony 3D Experience online app which is also part of the home theater system. Here are a couple of screen shots from the Sony 3D Experience online app.

Sony 3D Experience online App

3D content detected by the TV from the Sony 3D Experience App
When I select yes (switch to 3D) on the above screen using the remote for the 3D TV, I can put on the 3D glasses and view Sony's 3D demo clips.    
The integrated 3D Blu-Ray player seems to require a signal from the TV before it will play 3D.  The only signal I can think of that my TV isn't delivering is the active shutter sync signal, because it is a passive system. 

I'm no expert on home theater or 3D TV, but here are the reasons why I think the Sony 3D Blu-ray player may not be compatible with some passive 3D TVs:
1.  The Sony support website provides instructions on How to set up a 3D TV
Sony 3D TVs use an active shutter to synchronize the glasses.  I wonder if the Blu-Ray player is looking for the shutter synchronization signal before it will play 3D content.   

2. The box for the Sony BVD-E780W home theater does have a note that says:  "3D viewing requires 3D content, 3D HDTV and a high speed HDMI cable (supporting at least 10.2 Gbps) connection.  Other 3D accessories (including active 3D glasses) also required."   [emphasis added on active]
If this is the case, it seems like a simple firmware update could provide another setting on the Blu-Ray player to select support for a Passive vs. Active 3D TV.  If the passive TV setting it selected, The Blu-Ray player could bypass the synchronization check  before playing 3D content. 
Other notes:   Tech support ratings. 
I think Vizio Tech support is very responsive.  They seem to have an adequate number of knowledgeable techs available to answer questions in detail by online chat. 
I give Sony Tech support lower ratings than Vizio.  Submission of online questions is limited to 450 characters.   The wait is longer. Answers so far were more general and haven't addressed my specific situations.
I followed up with a sales person at Best Buy, who:
 a) Offered to sell me home theater installation, but said they are not familiar with Vizio because they don't carry that brand. 
b) Put me in touch with Sony phone support, which was more responsive than online, but not much more helpful or knowledgeable.
So far I didn't get definitive answers from anyone, which is why I'm posting this in hope that people out there have already solved this problem.  I'm considering returning some (or all) of this stuff if I can't get it working so your input/ideas would be helpful.  

Added Dec 4, 2011

Here is the support request I sent to Sony Support (my third contact with them on this case - with personal info removed for privacy)

Product Group: Sony
O/S          : Select Your Operating System
Model        : BDVE780W
Question    : ref EventID #E####### I can't get 3D on a Vizio E3D420VX passive 3D TV from the 3D Narnia Promo blu-ray provided with my BVD-780W home theater.  I think the 3D TV & 10.2 Gbps HDMI connection are OK because I can display 3D content from the Sony 3D Experience online app.  The integrated 3D blu-ray player seems to require an active shutter synch signal from the TV before it will play 3D.  Is there a firmware upgrade planned to fix this limitation?

Here is the response received from Sony - which is very close to providing the answer, but not quite right, and not enough to solve the problem.

 Thank you for contacting Sony Support.

I'm sorry that there in no 3D when playing back the 3D disc in the 3D Blu-ray Disc Home Theatre System. Based on the information you have provided, I suggest that you set BD output to 1080P. Please follow the steps mentioned below to set BD output to 1080P:

# Press the HOME button.
# Select Settings .
# Select Screen Settings .
# Select BD/DVD-ROM 1080/24P Output.
# Select Auto.
# Press Enter.

If the issue is unresolved, please contact our telephone support staff who will be happy to provide further diagnosis and assistance at: (800) 222-7669 or (239) 768-7669 Intl

Currently, I do not have any information on future firmware upgrade.

Thank you for your time.

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The Sony Email Response Team
 I looked at this setting when I received the above response, and found the BD/DVD-ROM 1080/24P Output was already set to "auto" . It didn't occur to me immediately to try setting it to "off", however, after 24 hours with no solution I decided to try turning that setting off to see what would happen, and guess what?  PROBLEM SOLVED!    Here is what the setting looks like on the screen.

Now when I play the 3D Blu-Ray, the menu comes up with 2-D or 3D.  I can select 3D, the TV auto detects 3D mode and I confirm.  I get a message to put on the glasses and I'm watching 3D Blu-Ray on my Vizio!    Next I'll to send this info off to Sony & Vizio to help the next person who runs into this issue, and I'll update my product review.

Ho Ho Ho!


Julie said...

Thank you SO MUCH! This fixed the problem for me too. Now I can feel good about this TV and Blu-Ray 3d!

artell said...

Thank you! That fixed my player too!

Casey @ said...

Thank you so much! This resolved our problems as well!

Anonymous said...

Thank you this worked for me, I also had to change the connection to hdmi

Anonymous said...

I have the same setup. We have watched several 3D movies, then, one day it stopped working.
It is amazing, Sony told us it was the player. Found this while researching for a 3D player to replace our Sony.
Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I had WW II in 3D, and it played on my friend's Sony TV, but not on my
Vizio. All the "experts" didn't know how to correct the problem. Many thanks again.