Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

3D Stereo Gaming Without Expensive Shutters

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 27 comments

3D is all the rage recently. Zalman has a solution for some.

Zalman is about to make available it's line of Trimon 3D LCD display series, which was initially announced at CES.

We had the chance to sit down in front of a few of them and test drive their 3D-ness and while the solution does have some caveats, overall, we were impressed. It's difficult to convey what the experience is like through text, so you'll just have to trust our word.

The first demo we were given was a set of rotating balls. It took time to settle into the sweet spot. We test drove a 21.5-incher and while all three of Zalman's Trimon models exhibited good horizontal viewing angles in 3D, the vertical angle for 3D was very narrow. In fact, unless you were within 5 to 10-degrees of the vertical sweet spot, you would lose the stereoscopic effect immediately.

Once in the sweet spot though, we were immediately treated to very realistic 3D effects in several demos: movies, 3D apps, and games. In all of the demos, the ball and ocean demo stuck out -- literally -- as the most impressive of the bunch. Primary due to content, Zalman's Trimon displays were able to create the out-of-screen effect that most other 3D solutions lack. What you'll find with most stereo-3D solutions is that while the picture has depth, it is "into the screen" rather than being able to do that and leap at you.

The glasses that were given to us were circular-polarized, this means several things:

First, you're not crippled down to how much money you're willing to spend on shutter glasses to share the experience, or replace if damaged. Competitively, it costs roughly $100 on average to replace synced shutter LCD glasses. Zalman's glasses are completely passive and are relatively cheap to buy. According to Zalman, a pair of glasses costs less than $20.

Second, the glasses are lightweight and are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Some users have claimed dizziness or even nausea after using shutter glasses, but with these, no such side effects are created. For those who are already wearing glasses, Zalman has a clip-on solution that attaches itself to your glasses' nose bridge and simply flips down.

Third, the circular-polarization of Zalman's glasses means that you can lie down and watch a 3D movie without worrying about your image going totally black. This effect happens with vertical-horizontal polarized glasses, such as those used on some of the recent Samsung 3D HDTVs.

One major aspect of Zalman's solution was the fact that it was able to support multiple simultaneous screens with one pair of glasses, something shutter glasses cannot do because of LCD syncing.

Besides all the technical points, the 3D effect was as impressive as what you can get at the movies, albeit at a smaller scale. What's the entry price for a total solution?

Zalman says: MSRP for the 21.5-inch will come in at roughly $479.99, and no price currently exists for the 24-inch and 32-inch models.

While this seems like a steep entry into 3D, don't forget that with other 3D solutions, you're also forced to pay for a high-refresh rate LCD as well as shutter solutions, which can be expensive if malfunctioning. Availability for the 21.5 inch will be in June of this year, with no confirmed date for the other two.

Display 27 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 7 Hide
    the_krasno , May 25, 2010 12:47 AM
    If this gets good reviews out there and has nice specs I might get one sometime.
  • 4 Hide
    jamoise , May 25, 2010 12:52 AM
    So just like most movie theaters that used the polarized glasses, both images are displayed at different polarities, and each eye can only see one of the images, due to the differing polarity of each of the lenses.
  • 2 Hide
    sseyler , May 25, 2010 12:52 AM
    Yeah, I'm also curious to see how these monitors work. I didn't realize that Samsung already had a vertical-horizontal polarized 3D TV. I'm guessing each image has its light polarized in a different direction (of rotation, of course).
  • 0 Hide
    bogcotton , May 25, 2010 1:04 AM
    I don't actually know how these work, but I think the light source in the back of the lcd has 2 modes of polarisation, and it shines alternate polarisations through the lcd for each frame.
  • 1 Hide
    ravewulf , May 25, 2010 1:09 AM
    If they can improve the verticle viewing angle and the price comes down over time, I'm getting one!
  • -4 Hide
    proxy711 , May 25, 2010 1:12 AM
    Still not sold of 3D...its a waste of time on a silly gimmick. move on to better tech plz.
  • 0 Hide
    aethm , May 25, 2010 1:13 AM
    Don't forget about IZ3D monitors. I don't know how this will stake up against them but it's the same tech.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 25, 2010 1:18 AM
    Zalman vs Iz3d?
  • -4 Hide
    kelemvor4 , May 25, 2010 1:29 AM
    21.5" monitors? Is this some sort of 1998 retro thing going on? what a joke. How about I run my nvidia 3d vision kit over to the 65" tv that it works perfectly on ($899 at compusa by the way for the tv).

    Hmm.. 1199 for the tv and glasses and watch/game on a 65" 1080p screen or $499 for 21.5"... tough choice...
  • 9 Hide
    descendency , May 25, 2010 1:38 AM
    Now all they need is 3 of these side by side with no bezel.
  • 0 Hide
    thedreadfather , May 25, 2010 3:44 AM
    kelemvor421.5" monitors? Is this some sort of 1998 retro thing going on? what a joke. How about I run my nvidia 3d vision kit over to the 65" tv that it works perfectly on ($899 at compusa by the way for the tv).Hmm.. 1199 for the tv and glasses and watch/game on a 65" 1080p screen or $499 for 21.5"... tough choice...
    So you're planning on putting your TV on a desk?
  • 3 Hide
    twisted politiks , May 25, 2010 3:45 AM
    so does this mean your graphics card needs to render at 120 fps to get standard 60 fps in 3D?
  • 2 Hide
    anamaniac , May 25, 2010 5:34 AM
    So, LCD producers have no interest in making 30" 2560x1600 or even 3840x2160?
    I'm fine with 2D and 60Hz, just give me reasonably priced 4k resolution monitors and projectors!
  • 0 Hide
    Trialsking , May 25, 2010 6:03 AM
    aethmDon't forget about IZ3D monitors. I don't know how this will stake up against them but it's the same tech.


    Amen to that brotha! How many more days till 3D dies........

    The year 2030: VH1's new show i luv the 2010's is highlighting another the silly fad.....3D movies and video games........
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 25, 2010 6:57 AM
    Again, the table is not human-readable even after pressing zoom!!!!!!
  • 0 Hide
    jenesuispasbavard , May 25, 2010 8:07 AM
    proxy711Still not sold of 3D...its a waste of time on a silly gimmick. move on to better tech plz.

    Have you tried Batman: Arkham Asylum in 3D?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 25, 2010 8:51 AM
    ooo!! can't wait for the 32"
  • 1 Hide
    magicandy , May 25, 2010 9:39 AM
    twisted politiksso does this mean your graphics card needs to render at 120 fps to get standard 60 fps in 3D?


    Yep, on average, stereoscopic 3D draws about twice the power of normal 2D because the card has to render two scenes at once. It's not always exactly a 50% loss in performance (sometimes better sometimes worse), but a good rule of thumb is that if you can play a game at least at 80 FPS in 2D, you can use the same settings in 3D for a playable experience around 40 FPS.

    Although some games are odd. I use Nvidia's 3D Vision and with TF2 it acts differently if you have the built-in 3D cursor enabled. Without the 3D cursor I can play in 3D at a constant 60 FPS with my GTX 280 and Q6600, but with the 3D cursor enabled it dips below 30 or even 20 FPS in hairy scenes. Source engine games are the only ones I've seen that react to the 3D cursor like this.
  • 1 Hide
    djab , May 25, 2010 12:48 PM
    The biggest pros of this solution seems to be the cost of the glasses.

    The biggest cons: the resolution is halved.

    Some cons in the comparison table for NVidia shutter glasses do not seems justified:
    - glasses comfort, poeple who have prescription glasses reports having no problem wearing the 3D glasses over there prescription glasses.
    - Dual display support, why would it be impossible to do that with NVidia 3dvision solution? Glasses do not seems to synchronize with the screens but with the pyramid shaped emitter connected to the graphic card.
    - flicker: 4 days ago, in a great and complet article on TsH, Don Woligroski said about NVidia solution with a 120hz display that "you shouldn't be able to perceive any strobing or flickering"
    - Cross-talk and ghosting: Tech Ed Don Woligroski also said that "crosstalk and ghosting made occasional appearances. The problem was minimal (far less than polarized setups)".

    I am not trying to be an NVidia fan boy.
    I am just trying to discriminate between truth and untruth as I may be interested in buying a 3D display at some time.

    It would have been nice to indicate the source of the comparison table ...
  • 0 Hide
    Chris_TC , May 25, 2010 1:55 PM
    Um yeah, and somehow the article fails to mention that you only get half the resolution with the polarized system. But who needs HD, right?
Display more comments