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Conclusion

Build Your Own: Wall-Sized 3D Gaming, Just Like Theaters Do It
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This article ended up a lot longer than I originally intended, and frankly I'm leaving a lot of less-significant details out because there's just so much to talk about. When embarking on a large project like this that requires a respectable amount of learning, it is often difficult to get all of the information across. But I do think that we've delivered a solid idea of what you can expect from a dual-projector polarized 3D display in the home.

What's the final verdict? There are so many verdicts to deliver, but let's start with the main one. Is a dual-projector polarized 3D theater worth the expense and trouble? To this question I can only answer that, for me, it was one of the most fantastic toys I have ever played with. In contrast to the 3D theater that I set up three years ago using LCD shutter glasses at 80 Hz, this method is far more livable and enjoyable. While some people were turned off by the previous experiment and found it difficult to watch, everyone seems to love to game on this dual-projector 3D theater. People well into their 40s and 50s will sit awed by the spectacle, asking for another epic space battle to watch, please.

Having settled that, which driver should you buy for this setup--iZ3D or TriDef? There is no magic bullet as both drivers have their strengths and weaknesses, so here is my advice for anyone putting together a dual-projector 3D theater: don't be cheap--buy both drivers. The $50 difference in cost for a $2,500 home-theater setup is negligible, but you will appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of both options depending on the game you play.

The TriDef drivers offer the slickest experience possible in the games they support, but there are a few show-stoppers for whom this software does not work at all. The TriDef media player is also an unexpected bonus.

As for the iZ3D driver, it delivers the most compatibility and worked with every game we tried, but suffers from too many shadow-convergence problems to deserve an exclusive recommendation. However, using both of these products I was able to get a very satisfactory experience from every single game I threw at the system. The convenience of owning both is well worth the extra $50 cost compared to choosing a single option.

I will mention once again that neither the DDD nor the iZ3D drivers are focused on the dual-projector output option. A dual-projector theater is an admittedly fringe setup for which these companies are kind enough to deliver moderate support, but neither company is interested in spending a lot of resources. iZ3D is understandably focusing on its proprietary displays, while DDD is likely shifting its focus to the alternate-frame sequencing method that is poised to become the de-facto 3D display standard in the consumer space.

How about our projector choice? With 2,600 lumens of light output, the BenQ W600 provides more than ample brightness, putting to rest our primary concern. For the $900 price tag we have no complaints about this choice whatsoever. The 3000:1 contrast is great, and these projectors provide an excellent stereoscopic experience. We admit that the 1280x720 does make us yearn for a higher resolution, but to buy a projector with high light output and a high 1080p resolution would have meant doubling our projector budget, at the very least. There are some 1080p models on the market in the $1,000 range, but the light output is usually under 2,000 lumens, and you would have to have very strict control over the amount of ambient light in your theater room to make it work.

What's the best graphics hardware to use in a dual-projector setup? This article focuses on putting together a dual-projector polarized display, not the graphics hardware, but we did find that the Radeon HD 4890 worked the best for our purposes. There are a lot of things we haven't addressed yet, and we want to mention that we had problems getting Source-engine-based titles like Left 4 Dead working on Radeon HD 5000-series graphics cards when using the TriDef driver. We got some feedback regarding this from Julien Flack at DDD suggesting that there might be an interdependence issue with the dual-projection profile in the driver and that he is willing to look at it.

In the short term, it seems like the Radeon HD 4890 gets the nod to be the choice graphics card for a dual-projector setup and we certainly wouldn't want to use anything less powerful than that. A slower card would be brought to its knees, since the stereoscopic 3D mode lowers performance dramatically. A CrossFire or SLI setup might be even more desirable, and we hope to test that in the future to find out if this is even compatible with the TriDef and iZ3D drivers. As far as DirectX 11 is concerned, since the stereoscopic drivers are limited to DirectX 9, this is not yet an option. Both DDD and iZ3D are working on DirectX 10 and 11 compatibility for future releases.

Of course, it would be crazy not to mention Nvidia's 3D Vision option at this point. Nvidia's solution allows us to use a single projector and the convenience of Nvidia's free proprietary software. The potential advantage when a hardware developer tackles the stereoscopic 3D component itself is undeniable. We anticipate fewer glitches and anomalies and perhaps even a performance boost compared to third-party drivers. DirectX 10 is already supported in 3D Vision drivers and DirectX 11 will automatically be supported with the release of the next-generation Fermi architecture. In addition, only one projector is required, minimizing the set-up time and up-front cost. Finally, 3D Blu-ray compatibility is guaranteed, and that alone might make it worth it.

We should mention that we did try to test the Nvidia 3D Vision solution for comparison purposes, but it requires a special 3D Vision-ready projector and our BenQ W600 is not on the compatibility list. That comparison will have to wait for a follow-up article.

Indeed, there can be no final conclusion until we test an Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision-compatible setup, and we'd like to wait until we can test 3D Blu-ray discs for that follow-up review. In the meantime, after finishing testing for this article, I went out and bought a second projector to match my existing one so that I could recreate this dual-projector polarized setup for personal gaming use. So keep the beer and chips coming; I'll be putting in plenty of time testing and re-testing this particular configuration.

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Top Comments
  • 26 Hide
    MiamiU , March 30, 2010 6:32 AM
    seems like being a hardcore gamer just keeps getting more and more expensive...
  • 23 Hide
    Icehearted , March 30, 2010 6:56 AM
    As for poor folk like me, we'll just settle for those still images where we cross our eyes, and cry because $2,565 is far away from "comfortable".
  • 12 Hide
    salgado18 , March 30, 2010 1:11 PM
    I don't know if it would be possible, but it would sure be AWESOME to see some of those games on a short gif animation in "fake" 3D! Please! (a video review would be great too!) :D 

    PLEASE people, vote me up! If you do they'll try it!
Other Comments
  • 26 Hide
    MiamiU , March 30, 2010 6:32 AM
    seems like being a hardcore gamer just keeps getting more and more expensive...
  • 23 Hide
    Icehearted , March 30, 2010 6:56 AM
    As for poor folk like me, we'll just settle for those still images where we cross our eyes, and cry because $2,565 is far away from "comfortable".
  • -3 Hide
    winner4455 , March 30, 2010 7:29 AM
    I can see this becoming main stream and the next few years... In 3d too.
  • 6 Hide
    tigerwraith , March 30, 2010 7:59 AM
    2.6k now but you know things like this keep getting cheaper and cheaper. Maybe by this time next year, the 1080p 2600 lumens will drop to 500, and the drivers will better support dual projector setups.
  • -4 Hide
    tigerwraith , March 30, 2010 8:09 AM
    But I do have a question would of mattered if you used LCD projectors?
  • 0 Hide
    gti88 , March 30, 2010 9:40 AM
    Great article! Thanx a lot.
    But as I can see, 3D stereo is not there yet.
    Almost no movies are available at 3DS, and game developers don't focus on stereo optimisation. Thus, we have some glitches and inconveniences.
  • 1 Hide
    pojih , March 30, 2010 9:59 AM
    ahh, something else to cost an arm and a leg...

    not saying that many people here don't want the fastest and most expensive....

    but it was clearly shown that many people looking at this site want something that performs for what it costs, as seen by the fermi release and the comments .....
  • 2 Hide
    skora , March 30, 2010 10:24 AM
    Whats the next price bracket up for a projector with higher res?

    I like the idea of dual projectors better than the alt-image standard, but they didn't ask me.

    Here's a wild thought, soon, everyone will have their own glasses that not only do the shutter for 3D, but will also be able to be personal monitors. Connect to any computer/phone/TV with your glasses. Displays might even become unnecessary. That will be the next wireless mainstream device. The iShades. Phone, mobile pc and display, earbud is right there. Have pants that have built in keyboard. We'll all just be sitting there with our shades on and never see the person next to us as we get lost in the cloud. And it all starts with 3D glasses. :p 
  • -1 Hide
    djab , March 30, 2010 10:31 AM
    IceheartedAs for poor folk like me, we'll just settle for those still images where we cross our eyes, and cry because $2,565 is far away from "comfortable".


    No, you can at least use red/cyan paper glasses with iz3d drivers and a normal display.
    That is not that bad!
  • 0 Hide
    manitoublack , March 30, 2010 11:05 AM
    Great article, and no doubt people ask you: "why have you got 2 projectors?" The only trouble with polarized setups is that you cant view 3D laying down, eg: Lounge Lizard style, which you can do with shutter glasses (however uncomfortable that may be.)

    Still though, for $2,500USD you've built a pretty mad setup. To those winging about price, deal with it, if you want the best you've got to be prepared to buy the best. I'd suspect that a WUXGA setup would be in the $5-6,000 range using the projectors you'd want. Well worth the buy-in price. I hope for your sake (if you payed for it, not Tomshardware) that it is compatible with yet-to-be-released BR3D.

  • 0 Hide
    mjello , March 30, 2010 11:17 AM
    manitoublackGreat article, and no doubt people ask you: "why have you got 2 projectors?" The only trouble with polarized setups is that you cant view 3D laying down, eg: Lounge Lizard style, which you can do with shutter glasses (however uncomfortable that may be.)Still though, for $2,500USD you've built a pretty mad setup. To those winging about price, deal with it, if you want the best you've got to be prepared to buy the best. I'd suspect that a WUXGA setup would be in the $5-6,000 range using the projectors you'd want. Well worth the buy-in price. I hope for your sake (if you payed for it, not Tomshardware) that it is compatible with yet-to-be-released BR3D.


    Samsung display dont work lying down
  • -4 Hide
    idisarmu , March 30, 2010 11:27 AM
    What's wrong with the old school red-green glasses? It seems like a much cheaper and convenient solution. I would hate having to recharge glasses, let alone wear them if they're going to be heavier than normal.
  • -4 Hide
    d70guy , March 30, 2010 11:27 AM
    There are a lot of issues with this. The lack of resolution, difference in brightness of the images over time (no two bulbs are identical), the less than ideal projection surface, the fact that all bluray titles will be 1080p for each eye, etc.. I mean, this *is* a fun toy, but not for a serious gamer, and not for an even semi-serious home theater person. It is strictly for someone with the money to blow on a toy.
  • 0 Hide
    d70guy , March 30, 2010 11:34 AM
    idisarmuWhat's wrong with the old school red-green glasses? It seems like a much cheaper and convenient solution. I would hate having to recharge glasses, let alone wear them if they're going to be heavier than normal.


    Red blue glasses are the worst case 3D experience. Both polarized and shutter glasses are 10 times better at delivering a realistic 3D experience. The anaglyph (red/blue separation of the image distorts the color of the image, and even with high quality (eyeglass quality) red/blue glass lenses the overall effect is that of a poor quality experience. Shutter glasses these days are not that heavy, and its not like you are going to be wearing them for the length of the movie. It really doesn't factor in. Personally, I will take the shutter glasses. They block light much better thereby eliminating the ghosting issues associated with the polarized lenses. I say this as someone who has worked with linear, circular, and shutter technology since the late 1980s.
  • 1 Hide
    Artman256 , March 30, 2010 12:21 PM
    From the dual projector page - "the filters polarize the light across a plane". This is not entirely true, old systems did that, but modern systems use circular polarization, which avoids the problems caused by tilting your head.
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , March 30, 2010 12:21 PM
    This is going to be very expensive.
  • 12 Hide
    salgado18 , March 30, 2010 1:11 PM
    I don't know if it would be possible, but it would sure be AWESOME to see some of those games on a short gif animation in "fake" 3D! Please! (a video review would be great too!) :D 

    PLEASE people, vote me up! If you do they'll try it!
  • 5 Hide
    pluripotent , March 30, 2010 1:23 PM
    But Don! I'z only gotz one eye!
  • 2 Hide
    Rehnquist- , March 30, 2010 1:53 PM
    Why on earth are all the screenshots scaled down to such a low resolution?
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