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The Other Displays: Half-Resolution Or None At All

Blu-ray 3D On The PC: The Tom's Hardware Review

There are other commercially available TVs that can display Blu-ray 3D. The problem is that these options are limited to half-resolution output. Let's go over them quickly:

3D Checkerboard DLP Displays

This is a format used on some Samsung and Mitsubishi DLP TVs. It is essentially a variant of alternate-frame sequencing, requiring the same kind of LCD shutter glasses.

Even though these TVs have been sold as “3D-ready” models, they aren't capable of full 1080p resolution because they aren't yet equipped with the HDMI 1.4 specification and can't accept dual 1080p video streams. These TVs cannot handle the bandwidth required for full-resolution, dual-stream 1080p video, but they work around this limitation with the checkerboard 3D format.

The checkerboard technique integrates both stereoscopic views into a single frame of video. Each view occupies alternate pixels of the same image in a checkerboard pattern, so each view uses half the total resolution without losing any complete vertical or horizontal lines of video. The end result is a fairly good 3D image, considering each eye only receives half-resolution, but it still doesn't hold up well to full-resolution solutions like Nvidia's 3D Vision.

Interlaced (Interleaved) Polarized 3D Displays

Hyundai and LG have created interlaced 3D TVs based on this technology, and Hyundai and Zalman have produced polarized PC monitors. Essentially, alternating horizontal lines of video are dedicated to each eye. Each of these lines has its own polarized filter and the user must wear passive polarized glasses. As a result, each eye can only see the lines of video that are intended for that perspective.

With each eye able to view only every second line of resolution, the downside of this method, you guessed it, is half-resolution. Worse yet, the blank horizontal lines of resolution are easily noticeable, and text can be difficult to read.

Other Display Options

There are at least two 3D display types that I can think of that are theoretically capable of high-resolution Blu-ray 3D playback, but have no software player support announced. Without this support, the potential capabilities of these displays are hamstrung.

The first option I will mention is the iZ3D monitor. Admittedly, the 22" iZ3D monitor only offers 1680x1050 pixels, so it isn't quite capable of 1080p. But it can display 3D video at full resolution. However, as an independent display type without mainstream industry support, the onus will be on iZ3D to work with software developers for Blu-ray 3D playback, or to develop its own proprietary software solution.

The second option is something about which I've gone into great detail in our Wall-Sized 3D Gaming, Just Like The Theaters Do It article. A dual-projector polarized theater would have no problem displaying full 1080p 3D video. The problem is that this is a fringe enthusiast-only method of viewing 3D content, and there aren't any software developers who have announced support for this kind of display.

And that's about it. Of course, there's the old-school anaglyph, red-and-blue-glasses style of 3D, but while the resolution is arguably full 1080p, the color output is so mangled that this is not a viable option for home-theater enthusiasts.

The Display Verdict

No matter how you slice it, there appears to be only a single viable full-resolution Blu-ray 3D option for the PC at this time: Nvidia's 3D Vision solution with 120 Hz LCD screens. Without any other high-resolution options on the horizon, Nvidia will have a virtual monopoly on this high-end format until the competition can offer a viable alternative.

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