Nvidia Debuts GeForce 3D Vision Glasses

By Nick Breckon, Jan 08, 2009 7:00pm PST Nvidia today released a new line of wireless shutter 3D glasses--another revival of a technology long perceived as a gimmick.

The real shocker? These things might be worth a look.

"The visual effect is more than simply cheap Hollywood-style 3D flash," writes CNET in its positive preview. "In Left 4 Dead, we had the sense of a much more immersive depth of field than you get from standard 3D games on a 2D display."

The GeForce 3D Vision glasses use battery-powered, active stereoscopic technology to create its 3D effect at 60 FPS--different from ATI's passive iZ3D pair. However, the Nvidia glasses will require a monitor or TV with a 120Hz refresh rate over dual-link DVI, adding an extra expense to the $199 price of the product.

And the drawbacks aren't only isolated to the cost.

"Nvidia has a very good active shutter stereoscopic solution with GeForce 3D Vision, but the problem is that its value is still very dependent on the application(s) the end user wants it for," writes AnandTech.

Continues Anand:

One of the best looking games was Left 4 Dead, but large outdoor environments like in Fallout 3 can degrade the experience because of the huge difference in actual depth contrasted by the lack of stereoscopic depth at extreme distances: you can only go so deep "into" or "out of" the monitor, and big worlds just aren't accommodated...

The two effects that stand out the best right now are the out of screen effects in World of Warcraft and the volumetric smoke and lighting in Left 4 Dead. In L4D, fire the pistol real fast and you can see the smoke pouring out of the barrel curl around as if it were really floating there. Properly done stereoscopic volumetric effects and out of screen effects add an incredible level of realism that can't be overstated. Combining those and removing all problems while allowing maximum image quality would really be incredible. Unfortunately there isn't anything we tested that gave us this satisfaction.

The 3D Visions should be available for online ordering today, with a retail release coming in the following days.

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25 Threads | 81 Comments
  • The shutter glasses have been around for ages, this is nothing new. I have an Elsa set in a closet somewhere. I don't know why this is suddenly $199. These used to be $80-120. Several Nvidia board partners sold these systems. At the time you had to use a CRT since LCDs were waaay too slow on refresh speed and response. I'm still skeptical that they are fast enough. Any image persistance will degrade image quality and show ghosting. On a CRT at 120hz it was still annoying. It also leaves you with a headache after ahile. I guess I'd be interested in trying it again on a newer 120hz, fast response LCD to see if it is any better. I'm not terribly hopeful. I wouldn't recommend running out any buying this without being able to demo it on a similar LCD to what you intend to use to see if it is really acceptable.

    The phase-based (polarized) stuff like Disney uses at Epcot for their 3D show (starting with Captain EO like 20 years ago, later updated to Muppet 3D) is much more impressive. I believe this is what the iZ3D system does. Only bummer is it absolutely requires a special display system. Either one of these iZ3D LCD monitors, or a pair of projectors each with a polarized filter. At least like anaglyphic 3D (the red/green glasses), the glasses are relatively cheap, unpowered, and lightweight so many people can view the display comfortably. I don't know the details of iZ3D's display as far as how good the left/right separation is or if they use the same transistors and flip an electronic polarized filter or what, but the projection systems have always been the premier 3D technology. I think this is much more promising even though cost is much higher. If it is something you can actually live with every day then the value proposition is decided. I'm actually hopeful about this. The displays aren't cheap, but $399 for 22" display isn't completely out of the question if it performs better than a $150 22" LCD with $199 shutter glasses.

    I'm very skeptical of all technologies that let you use a standard display. There always seems to be serious drawbacks that would likely keep you from really using it on a day to day basis. Gamma curve is off, serious ghosting issues (crosstalk between left/right), brightness lowered considerably, etc.

    There are also still universal issues with all 3D tech. Crosshairs in shooters are a big problem. They won't be "on target" at all distances. It will take integration by the developer of the game itself to solve this issue, like some sort of "3D mode" checkbox so your crosshair is dead on for just one eye or similar. And how convenient is it to wear glasses, put them on, take them off, every time you want to look at something in 3D? Even the polarized glasses reduce brightness. Do the drivers adjust brightness up automatically in 3D viewing? Are you going to want to use 3D in all 3D applications, or just some games or CAD programs? Can you enable 3D per application? Is this going to become a nightmare of turning stuff on and off when you switch tasks?

    I'm still very excited at the prospects of 3D displays, but I would caution anyone before spending $200-600 to try the tech out before spending money. There are drawbacks that very well may keep you from really using it. Try to find a demo before you plonk the money down. After using at least 4 different 3D systems I'm not using any of them today, and none of them lasted more than 2-3 days of farting around.

  • 3d goggles won't be done well (and won't be popular) until it's done well on a console, perhaps even a console with it's own screen. That way the developers of the system can count on the screen having a certain refresh rate, and drivers working a certain way. And if the system / peripheral is a hit, then other developers can feel confident about it and develop for it. The problem is... what I described sounds like Nintendo's virtual boy. Perhaps the main problem with the virtual boy was timing. It was too soon for a system like that. Today a virtual boy system would have full color, be more portable, and could rock. I'd like to see it on a stationary console too. Perhaps we'll get there eventually. The TVs would have to support a good refresh rate. The 3d part of it would need to be either goggle-less or the goggles need to be cheap enough that everyone in the room can still enjoy it. Perhaps the key will be if 3d displays get popular for TV shows and/or porn. Then the consoles could use the 3d display too.