For more than half of the families in the United States, HDTV is still on their wish list. Although high-def technology has been around since 1998, the cost of both the service and HDTV-compatible equipment has slowed adoption rates. Despite the slow growth of HDTV, some popular electronics brands are going even bigger to deliver an experience beyond HDTV. The newest high-tech product, announced Tuesday, is 3D TV — movie technology brought right to your living room. Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic have announced plans to distribute 3D models, but may already be facing an uphill battle. Although 3D is an attractive element, high pricing and limited availability of 3D programming will likely be the two major obstacles hindering 3D growth.

Both Samsung and Sony plan to start selling their 3D models at $3000, a high price compared to a typical LCD or plasma screen set, averaging between $500 and $1000. In addition to purchasing a 3D model, consumers will need to purchase separate DVD and Blu-ray players that are 3D compatible to make full use of the TV and its technology. With all of the extra equipment needed to upgrade to 3D, consumers could spend up to $4000 up front – a high price to pay for an experience you can get for $12 at a movie theater.

Consumers purchasing a Samsung 3D model will receive a viewing kit that includes a set of viewing glasses and a Blu-ray copy of the animated movie “Monsters vs. Aliens” in 3D. The idea to bundle a starter kit with the TV is smart, though it may not be enough to lure in the sales Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung are hoping for. What good will a 3D TV do if you can’t watch much on it? The list of available 3D movies is short, with the majority of selections being animated rather than live-action films.

After movies, 3D television content is nonexistent. Although Discovery and ESPN have announced plans to provide 3D content, there is nothing available to the average viewer right now. If anticipated early adopters were families with small children, this would be a perfect fit. However, the audience 3D is being geared toward has little to do with animated children’s movies. Sony is counting on the high-tech gaming community to make up the majority of first-year 3D TV sales, as the popular PlayStation 3 is 3D-capable with a decent number of games in its library. While this market segment is loyal, Sony may have failed to realize that a large number of gaming fans are still teenagers and young adults who don’t have $3000 to spend on a new TV and other equipment.

Though 3D is appealing, the launch of these products may be coming to the consumer market too soon. Financially, consumers don’t have the funds to upgrade to a piece of equipment so similar to something they have already invested in. Based on content, upgrading to a 3D TV right now isn’t smart, even for an early adopter. Consumers should wait for the technology to be financially accessible and widely available before making such a large investment.

Image by Artem Chernyshevych from Stock.Xchng