Samsung to discontinue 3D claims in US

Dr. Raymond M. Soneira, President, DisplayMate Technologies Corporation in the US, has drawn my attention to a finding by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in the United States. This body has recommended to Samsung that it cease certain advertising claims with regard to the claimed superiority of its active 3D technology compared to the passive technology of some of its competitors.

Here is the press release.

NAD performs an industry self-regulation function with regard to advertising claims.

What does this mean? I have sought a copy of the full decision because the press release suggests that the findings are not quite as clear as one may have thought. Meanwhile, I shall soldier on based on what the press release says.

At issue were a number of claims in Samsung advertising in which its active 3D tech was asserted to be superior to passive 3D tech. Amongst those claims, as reported by NAD, were:

  • ‘There are many differences between ACTIVE 3D and PASSIVE 3D technology, but the primary variance is the quality of the home 3D experience. PASSIVE 3D technology uses glasses that effectively cut 1080p resolution in half (540p) to each eye. Samsung ACTIVE 3D glasses deliver the Full 1080p HD experience to both eyes.’
  • ‘Passive 3D TV’s, with patterned film on the screen, will not be able to deliver the detail.’
  • Active Full HD (1080P Full HD) is ‘2 Times Better!’ than Passive (540P No Full HD)
  • ‘Active 3D. A clear winner with two times the resolution.’
  • ‘Jagged Lines!’ (in reference to 2D picture quality produced by passive 3D televisions)

The last point is obviously silly. Yes, passive 3D TVs do produce jagged lines on 2D content … but only if you watch 2D while wearing 3D glasses. I have not mentioned another couple of claims which Samsung voluntarily withdrew, and one on viewing angles in which NAD came down on Samsung’s side.

The rest are pretty much to do with the half resolution issues, which I discussed in my Blog post ‘Sorry, but it is half vertical resolution‘.

By my reading of the press release, NAD did not unequivocally find against this half resolution claim, but nonetheless recommended that Samsung discontinue making them.

How could this be?

In this way: NAD in adjudicating advertising claims ‘strives to ensure that denigrating claims are truthful, accurate, narrowly drawn and that they do not falsely disparage a competitor’s product.’

In assessing the evidence in this case, NAD found ‘that consumers receive full 3D imaging and may enjoy the 3D television experience with both parties’ technologies.’ I’d interpret that as meaning that both do a good job, which I’d agree with. They have different strengths and weaknesses.

Samsung attempted to argue that its half-res claims ‘did not convey a message about ultimate picture quality’ — in other words, that it was in fact a ‘narrowly drawn’ claim, and thus not ‘falsely disparaging’ the competition. But NAD found that the half-res point did convey that message.

The press release does not say that NAD made a finding on the half res point. Here’s all it has to say on the matter:

Further, while Samsung asserted that its claims are literally true, NAD determined that the claims at issue – even if accepted as technically true – could reasonably be interpreted by consumers as conveying messages of superior overall 3D picture quality.

I don’t read that as reporting a finding that full 1080p resolution is provided by passive 3D panels.

Nonetheless, Samsung has agreed to comply with NAD’s recommendations, despite it maintaining the view its ‘claims that Active 3D technology is capable of delivering superior resolution compared to Passive 3D are fully supported by technical and scientific evidence.’

That is a claim with which I also agree.

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