03/14/2012 12:06 EDT | Updated 04/15/2012 05:12 EDT

3-D Smart TV -- The Future of Home Entertainment

Being a gadget guy, I was surprised (and impressed) when I learned last year that my father-in-law bought a 3D TV before I did. To be fair, I didn't have any room for a new TV (which hasn't stopped me before) and I was a little leery of the longevity of the technology (see my blog on the Perils of the Early Adopter). I loved "Avatar" in 3D but didn't expect it to be nearly as good on a 3D television. Then I saw Papa Lew's beautiful 55" Samsung 7000 Series LED 3D TV and fell in love with it (I had already fallen in love with his daughter, so why not his TV too?).

Samsung has come a long way with its consumer products in the past few years (see my blog on the new Samsung Note smartphone), and their slim line LED TV's are no exception. The unit is a mind blowing 1.2" thick and the picture quality is so bright and sharp that it will literally take your breath away. It's also a Smart TV, allowing you to easily search for movies, TV shows, browse the web, explore Samsung apps, chat with friends and find many other types of new interactive TV content. Samsung Apps is a growing collection of premium apps specifically built for your TV that connects you to your favorite digital content such as movies from Netflix, TV shows from Hulu Plus, videos from YouTube, Next Level sports information from ESPN, Music from Pandora, and social updates from Facebook or Twitter. The Samsung LED 7000 Series Smart TV also includes a full web browser to navigate the internet, a Search All feature so you can find videos via apps or other connected devices, and a recommendation engine which suggests movies you might like from your Video-On-Demand services. And that's not even taking the 3D part into account. Connect it to a Samsung 3D Blu-ray player and you have, in my opinion, the best 1 - 2 punch in home theater hardware on the market (and I am a diehard plasma TV fan).

You do have to wear glasses when watching a 3D movie, but the next- generation glasses that come with these TVs are incredible. Gone are the red and green lenses and the lousy cardboard frames, replaced by comfortable battery powered glasses that are so light you forget that you are wearing them. A small power button is on the side of the glasses and they turn themselves off after a period of non-use, preserving the batteries. Extra glasses are expensive but necessary for viewing with family or friends, and they will last a long time with a little care. You don't have to watch programs in 3D -- movies played in regular old 2D look better on this TV than ever due to up-scaling from the Blu-ray player.

James Cameron, the creator of Avatar, says that the new 3D technology is the biggest advancement in film since sound was added in the 20s and is betting heavily on its future. He currently has 5 3D movies in production or on the drawing boards. His vision is that since we see in 3D, it's only natural to want to watch films in 3D. The first movie I saw on Blu-ray 3D was The Polar Express with Tom Hanks and I was hooked right away.

With more and more hardware manufacturers building these next-generation televisions, the term 3D to me becomes: Debate, Decide, and Deliver.