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GeForce 3D Vision: Gaming Goes Stereo

GeForce 3D Vision: Gaming Goes Stereo
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When you read a review of AMD’s latest graphics card or Intel’s latest CPU, there’s a fair chance you want to know, first and foremost, how that product performs. At least, that’s why we run the most exhaustive battery of tests possible. You take those performance figures and  factor in pricing, availability, and the competition to arrive at a decision: is this worth my money or not?

Other products are evaluated far more subjectively, though. Mice, keyboards, remotes—for many of those devices, you consider look, feel, interface, and setup. It’s much more difficult to lay down a decisive judgment on an item that might just feel better in your hand than it does in mine. Hence, the challenge in reviewing Nvidia’s new GeForce 3D Vision glasses, which incite very personal opinions, depending on who wears them.

Nvidia Goes Back To The Future

Nvidia's retail GeForce 3D Vision boxNvidia's retail GeForce 3D Vision box

If you’ve been around long enough, then you probably remember Elsa’s 3D Revelator glasses circa 1999. The shades came bundled with Elsa’s Erazor cards, worked with DirectX games, and required a minimum 100 Hz refresh rate. Naturally, that meant you were using a CRT display. Once the world started shifting to LCDs running 60 Hz, the active technology Elsa used simply wouldn’t work—the refresh rate in each eye was too low for flicker-free game play.

Besides, while the 3D glasses were cool in concept—and indeed looked impressive in a number of games—there were some downsides. First of all, the Nvidia TNT2 cards of the day took serious performance hits when they were used for stereo viewing. Back then, 800x600 was about all you could ask for. There were also a handful of driver settings that needed to be configured, depending on the game you were playing. Finally, eyestrain became a problem over time. We’re so used to playing 3D games on a 2D panel, that adding depth takes some getting used to. Nevertheless, because the Revelators were part of a hardware bundle, it didn’t hurt to try them out.

Now, LCD panel technology has come far enough along that the idea of active stereoscopic glasses is once again viable, and Nvidia is out to show that a lot can happen in 10 years. Its GeForce 3D Vision glasses were first showcased at NVISION in the fall of 2008. And they're now ready for retail (the company can’t yet say which brick and mortar will carry them, but we’re going to go out on a limb and guess Best Buy will have them on offer).  

Having played with Nvidia’s new shades for the past several days, it’s safe to say that they’ll fundamentally change the way you experience 3D. However, we’re not quite ready to call the technology bullet-proof. Onward for more about what you’ll need in order to run a set of 3D Visions and what you can expect to see with the setup purring.

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  • 11 Hide
    gmt325gh , January 9, 2009 7:03 AM
    nice...
    just one small problem .... what about people who wear glasses ???!!! :p 
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    TheGreatGrapeApe , January 9, 2009 5:30 AM
    Interesting, but I'm surprised that this came out before an updated and finalized GTX295 review.

    nV's recent flurry of 3D stereo-vision and Charlie @ the InQ's pre-emptive bashing of it have been interesting, but it reminds me of Matrox's wonderful surround-view feature, which is great, but it's still niche and will remain so.

    Not my cuppa, but at least the tech is moving forward so who knows about the future.

    I'm one of those people who see the rainbow effect on Gen3 DLP screens with 360hz colour wheels, so I have a feeling these new glasses won't improve the headaches anymore than the faster wheel solved my rainbow vision. Now synch some shutter glasses on a 480hz plasma... ;) 
  • 11 Hide
    gmt325gh , January 9, 2009 7:03 AM
    nice...
    just one small problem .... what about people who wear glasses ???!!! :p 
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , January 9, 2009 7:32 AM
    Nice article, but you're forgetting about something...Pc's are not only used for gaming, and if NVidia wants to make this really popular they MUST find a way to make movies work with their glasses.Currently there are very few titles that are in 3D, most are old, and the new ones are expensive, and so far converting a regular movie to stereoscopic 3D is almost impossible, and the quality is not what you'd expect. Also...besides providing their own hardware and a new Vista compatible driver, what did NVidia came up with that surpasses all the other 3D shutter glasses on the market(eDymensional..etc.), giving to account that all the titles you tested work with/the same(look,FPS etc.)with any stereoscopic glasses?
  • 1 Hide
    cangelini , January 9, 2009 8:11 AM
    TheGreatGrapeApeInteresting, but I'm surprised that this came out before an updated and finalized GTX295 review.nV's recent flurry of 3D stereo-vision and Charlie @ the InQ's pre-emptive bashing of it have been interesting, but it reminds me of Matrox's wonderful surround-view feature, which is great, but it's still niche and will remain so. Not my cuppa, but at least the tech is moving forward so who knows about the future.I'm one of those people who see the rainbow effect on Gen3 DLP screens with 360hz colour wheels, so I have a feeling these new glasses won't improve the headaches anymore than the faster wheel solved my rainbow vision. Now synch some shutter glasses on a 480hz plasma...


    Grape,

    It's coming. I sent all of the hardware to Thomas, who has a second GTX 295, which means we'll be able to deliver benchmarks of two 295s versus a pair of X2s and so on down the line. I'm over at CES, so all of this had to be finished up before the show. Should be worth the wait. I'm looking forward to see what four-digits worth of graphics horsepower is capable of, to be sure.

    I had the chance to check out Nvidia's competition tonight at the show and am currently working on a news story about it. Not. Impressed.
  • 2 Hide
    enewmen , January 9, 2009 8:12 AM
    This brings be back to the Asus V6600 GeForce Deluxe card I got in 1999. At that time, the 'Dagoth More Zoological Gardens' with the VR-Glasses was the most awesome sight I've ever seen on a PC. This worked with Ultima9 as well as a nice surpirse :) 

    I'm surprised I havin't seen (mainstream) 3-D displays without glasses yet. I've seen some samples of this in the past with small screens.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , January 9, 2009 8:47 AM
    Totally remember that myself. That was actually one of the first video cards I ever reviewed =)
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , January 9, 2009 9:32 AM
    This reminds me that Sony showed a stereo version of Gran Turismo 5 running on a PS3 AND that the RSX is a NVidian board...
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , January 9, 2009 12:13 PM
    LCD shutter glasses again??? Really? Yawn. Where are the glasses that beam images directly onto my retinas or even a set of lcd glasses that are actually 2 tiny HD monitors but still light enough to wear comfortably...
  • 0 Hide
    Fadamor , January 9, 2009 12:24 PM
    I need to point out an apparent error in nVidia's statement regarding TV's... I purchased a Samsung 40" LCD TV (Model number LN40A650) just prior to the holidays that has 120 Hz HDMI ports (4 of them) AND has 120 Hz refresh rate. So there ARE large screens out there that should be able to support the 3D technology.
  • 3 Hide
    GlItCh017 , January 9, 2009 12:48 PM
    gmt325ghnice... just one small problem .... what about people who wear glasses ???!!!


    I would guess that it fits over glasses.
  • 0 Hide
    hixbot , January 9, 2009 2:30 PM
    120hz processing isn't enough. The screen must be fast enough to DISPLAY 120 distinct images per second, and it must be at a precise rate, so the shutter glasses can sync properly.
    The varrying response times of LCD panels, depending on colour etc, will prevent a smooth moving, stereo image.
  • 0 Hide
    bounty , January 9, 2009 2:36 PM
    Does it work with other 3d capable apps. Scientific stuff, 3d desktop, media player visualizations/screensavers etc?
  • 1 Hide
    roofus , January 9, 2009 2:42 PM
    Wow it's been a while since I have seen Elsa mentioned. They made some really good video cards back in the day.
  • -2 Hide
    coldmast , January 9, 2009 3:20 PM
    so what, Tom's is telling me I need 2X 295 and then everything is good right?

    darn! I think I'll have to stick to a red-blue and rad racer
  • 1 Hide
    Fadamor , January 9, 2009 3:54 PM
    hixbot120hz processing isn't enough. The screen must be fast enough to DISPLAY 120 distinct images per second, and it must be at a precise rate, so the shutter glasses can sync properly.The varrying response times of LCD panels, depending on colour etc, will prevent a smooth moving, stereo image.

    So you're saying the problem is based on the fact that the display is an LCD display? Then why were two LCD monitors listed as compatible?

    The TV I purchased lists a 4ms response time for the pixels. That translates to approximately a 250 Hz refresh rate. The requirement for these glasses is 120 Hz which means it is less than half of the TV's rated capability. Are you SURE it's not going to work?
  • 0 Hide
    hannibal , January 9, 2009 4:23 PM
    It's god to know that if I ever have enough money I can get something guite interesting to my desktop! Even if this will be a niche solution for some time, at least it's nice to know that there is something that you can put your sli cards really to do something usefull. But I really hope that even this feature should be "open" standard to all GPU makers...
  • -1 Hide
    zodiacfml , January 9, 2009 4:23 PM
    looking from nvidia's perspective, this feature must work really good in order to sell more GPUs since this obviously requires SLI more than crysis.
    I wonder how amd's stereo solution will work, probably performs almost the same but cheaper. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Pei-chen , January 9, 2009 4:45 PM
    k_meleon1982....if NVidia wants to make this really popular they MUST find a way to make movies work with their glasses.Currently there are very few titles that are in 3D, most are old, and the new ones are expensive, and so far converting a regular movie to stereoscopic 3D is almost impossible, and the quality is not what you'd expect.

    3D is the next big thing in movies after digital projection and HD. Check out Wikipedia's list of future releases in 3D for more info.



    Go see Bolt in Disney Digital 3-D
  • -2 Hide
    Balshoy , January 9, 2009 5:56 PM
    "and you’ll need a fairly potent graphics subsystem in order to really enjoy it. "

    You people always complain about performance issues... well gotta tell you that things aren't so black and white... well not so black anyway :p 
    I have a HD4870 video card, a phenom 9950 processor and 5 GB RAM @ 667Mhz... and I can play Crysis with all the settings turned to VERY high at a 1680x1050 resolution with a playable frame rate. So what I'm trying to say is that with a fairly standard gaming rig you can play the latest games with all the settings turned on/set to very high... just imagine what you can do with just a little more (a 4870x2 instead of the simple 4870... or a tad more ram)
  • 1 Hide
    knickle , January 9, 2009 5:58 PM
    I used a pair of shutter glasses a long long time ago. They were pretty cool, but far from perfect. One of the issues I experienced was ghosting (a faint image of what the opposite eye was seeing). This was on a CRT. I would expect such an affect to be more apparent on an LCD.

    So my question to the author is, was there any noticeable (or negligible) ghosting during your tests?
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