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September 2, 2014

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MGM’s Television City to offer peek at latest 3-D products

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Justin M. Bowen

Visitors to last week’s Consumer Electronics Show got to sample 3-D television technology being developed by several companies.

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Even with prices as high as $5,000, the Consumer Electronics Association predicts that more than 4 million 3-D-enabled televisions will be sold in the United States this year.

As it does for a few days every year, the Consumer Electronics Show last week previewed the world’s cutting-edge gadgets and technological innovations. But only industry insiders and media got to try them out because the public is not allowed into the annual trade show.

Starting next month, though, CBS Television City inside the MGM Grand will offer a free mini-CES for everyone.

Television City was created in 2001 as a venue to test TV show pilots, but CBS is trying to capitalize more on its capabilities for other market research, as a place to tap consumer opinions on the latest products.

It’s the latest validation of Las Vegas’ reputation as a prime place for consumer market research.

The Strip, in particular, has the advantage of a high-volume, diverse tourist population. Las Vegas’ leisure traveler represents the broadest cross section of the U.S., more so than any other city, says David Poltrack, CBS’ executive vice president of research who runs Television City.

“If you want to showcase products and get people’s feedback, this is the ideal place to do it,” he says.

His facility also has the benefit of MGM Grand’s middle-America, everyman clientele. They’re not the high rollers of the Wynn, but they’re also not the budget-minded travelers of Circus Circus.

A plan to expand Television City began about a year and a half ago, and the first one onboard was electronics giant Sony, which signed a contract to use the CBS research facility for six months.

The company is to open a 3-D research center within Television City next month. Visitors can check out Sony’s 3-D products before they hit store shelves later this year.

Sir Howard Stringer, Sony Electronics chairman, president and CEO, announced the plan at CES last week.

The 3,000-square-foot display area at Television City won’t allow for as many products as CES’ 1.4 million square feet of exhibit space did, of course. But it will showcase the most hyped technology of the big show, where almost every TV and video company showcased the 3-D offerings they had in the works.

Even with prices of at least $5,000 expected for the first 3-D TVs, the Consumer Electronics Association estimates that 4.3 million 3-D-enabled TVs will be sold in the U.S. this year and that 30 percent of the nation’s TVs will be 3-D-enabled by 2013.

And although the research center will feature only Sony products, Sony is considered by many to be the company when it comes to 3-D. It was the first company to show off in-home, 3-D technology at last year’s CES.

The company has since made announcements on 3-D Blu-ray players, PlayStation games and partnerships with the Discovery Channel and ESPN to launch the first dedicated 3-D TV networks.

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