It's funny how prejudices can creep into your subconscious. I've been a 3D enthusiast for many years, and based on my experiences, I had all but given up on LCD shutter glasses, especially when compared to polarized dual-projection systems. The strobing shutters and headaches associated with shutter glasses are inevitable--or so I had thought.
Now, after building a polarized dual-projection system and testing a single-projector 3D Vision system, I have to ask myself the question: is the polarized dual-projection system worth the extra work and upfront expense compared to a 3D Vision system? Surprisingly, I find myself answering a resounding no, but with a few caveats.
If you're building a 3D gaming system for the express purpose of having 15+ people over at a time for parties, then a polarized dual-projection display is for you. You'll save a lot of money on the cheaper glasses in the long run--you don't want 15 people partying in $150 3D Vision glasses. You won't be able to watch Blu-ray 3D discs, of course, because software developers will probably not support the display. You'll have to live with some minor ghosting and crosstalk effects and will have to pay attention to the 3D driver you use based on the game you're playing. You’ll also have to live with the lack of a mouse cursor in one eye when playing RTS and RP games. DirectX 10 and 11 support is iffy at best. Your startup costs will be in the $2500 range. It's a bit of a mess, but at the same time, still a very fun solution. People will be stunned by the 3D output and your reputation as a host for 3D gaming parties will be legendary. Despite the problems, a polarized dual-projection system is a cool thing to have.
But if you're an average user, a gaming bachelor, or a family man with a penchant for 3D, then I really do think that a 3D Vision projector is the way to go. The buy-in is less than $1000 for a wall-sized 3D display. There are no ghosting artifacts. There is only one driver to use, which offers great game compatibility compared to the dual-projector alternatives. You can play Blu-ray 3D discs right out of the gate, and they really do work beautifully. You get a mouse cursor for both eyes when playing RTS and RP games. DirectX 10 and 11 are natively supported in the GeForce drivers. The playback is just as crisp and smooth as a polarized dual-projection system, but without the compromises or high startup costs.
Granted, you only get a single pair of glasses for that sub-$1000 price, and extra 3D Vision glasses are very expensive at $150 a pop. But look at the numbers. If you have a family of five, you'll need to buy four extra sets of glasses. That's $600, which is a hefty sum, but the $1600 total price tag for the glasses and projector remains about a thousand dollars less than a $2500 polarized dual-projector setup. And let's not forget, with increased adoption comes higher volumes and lower prices. A 120 Hz 3D television uses this same technology, and its glasses are in the same price range, so the price of glasses will inevitably drop over the next year or two.
Let's talk about Blu-ray 3D a little more. Right now the buy-in for a 120 Hz 46" 3D television is over $2000 in most cases for the television alone. Is anyone else intrigued by the relatively low cost of 120 Hz projectors for big-screen Blu-ray 3D duty? Granted, the highest 3D Vision-capable projector resolution is 720p now, but frankly, Blu-ray 3D films look awesome at this resolution, even on a 100” screen. In my opinion, a 120 Hz projector is the best way to currently watch Blu-ray 3D, and it just happens to be one of the lowest-cost options, too.
What about our projector choice? The Acer H5360 simply dazzled us for the low $640 price tag. Its 2500 lumens of brightness and a 3200:1 contrast ratio make for great gaming and movie viewing, while the 3D Vision-compatibility is an added bonus. Frankly, the display quality seems superior to the 3D Vision-ready Acer GD235Hz LCD monitor, which appears quite dark when used for 3D Vision duty. In addition, the H5360 projector can refresh pixels faster, and doesn't seem to suffer from occasional ghosting artifacts with very bright objects like the LCD monitor does.
What are the downsides of a 3D Vision projector aside from the cost of extra glasses? Some games aren't well-supported by 3D Vision. But, on average, 3D Vision works with a much broader range of games than the TriDef and iZ3D options. In fact, I'd say that the 3D Vision driver has the best all-around game compatibility, based on the titles in our test suite. The biggest detractor pertains to separation/convergence, for which we'd like to see tweaks in the driver.
After considering all of the pros and cons (cost, game compatibility, image quality, and Blu-ray 3D compatibility) a projector-driven 3D Vision solution offers gamers and movie buffs something wonderful to aspire to for less than a $1000 investment. In a world pushing 3D enthusiasts to spend over $2000 on 3D televisions, that's something special indeed. Because of this, we're awarding the 3D Vision/Acer H5360 projector combo our Tom's Hardware 2010 Recommended Buy award.
- Now, Let's Give 3D Vision A Spin
- Pros And Cons: 3D Vision Projection Vs. Polarized Dual-Projection
- The Hardware: 3D Vision Theater Checklist
- Installation And Setup
- Using 3D Vision
- Test System And Benchmarks
- Benchmark Results: Left 4 Dead
- Benchmark Results: Crysis
- Benchmark Results: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
- Benchmark Results: Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box
- Benchmark Results: Dungeons And Dragons Online
- Benchmark Results: Star Trek Online
- Blu-ray 3D Movie Payback
- Conclusion: Wall-Sized 3D Vision Rocks!