Instead of misplaced hype or utter scepticism, it may be better to approach 3D with cautious optimism new research from SNL Kagan suggests.

Examining the past, present and future of 3DTV technologies in its report, "The Future of 3D and Internet TV", Kagan expects the rollout of 3D TV to follow an adoption cycle similar to that of HD TV, contrary to the predictions of fellow professionals and even some 3D service providers.

That said, Kagan sees 3D TV adoption to be low in 2011 as the industry awaits a universal standard to be accepted, followed by what it calls a ramp-up period in 2012 when 3D capable sets can be produced at affordable price points.

In absolute terms, SNL Kagan predicts that there will be 1.8 million 3D TV households by the end of 2011, approximately 2% of total US TV households. This would be a net gain of 1.4 million from the end of 2010. These figures are based on an estimated retail sell-through rate of 35% and this is expected to more than double to 75% in 2011 as average 3D TV set prices drop from an estimated $1,728 in 2010 to $1,623 in 2011.

By 2015, Kagan predicts that there will be an overall TV household penetration rate of 5% by the end of 2012 rising to 21% by 2015, as the average retail unit price drops from $1,511 in 2012 to $1,195 by 2015.

As with other analyses of the 3D T market, Kagan believes that content will be key. The analyst regards 3D TV adoption to be slow while more 3D programming becomes available and that the 3D sports will support a new business model. Kagan is also optimistic about the revenue generating potential of 3D theatrical film exhibition, something that other analysts regard as a moot point in the US right now.

But even if there are some lingering doubts about 3D, Kagan harbours no such misgivings about connected TV. It predicts that by the end of 2011, the number of connected TV homes will grow to 14% of total US TV households, in absolute terms an increase of 8.4 million net new Internet-connectable TV households estimated this year from 7.5 million, or 6% of total U.S. TV households, at the end of 2010.

From 2012 to 2015, Kagan estimates that the percentage of total TV households with at least one Internet-connectable TV set or Blu-ray player will grow from 23% to 51%, as the majority of new HD and 3D TV sets and Blu-ray players will have some sort of online connectivity.