As the word suggests, a stereo display system presents two images: one for the right eye and one for the left. Combined, they create the appearance of depth. Now, there are a couple of different ways to present stereoscopic images, both of which require eyewear.
In a passive configuration, glasses with polarized filters are used so that the left and right images are only seen by the intended eye. Because the glasses don’t contain any electronics, they’re vastly cheaper and work great for shows like "Honey, I Shrunk The Audience" at Disneyland, where a large group of people has its eyes on the screen.
An active system, in contrast, leverages electronics built into the glasses themselves, which trigger LCD shutters in rapid succession to achieve the same stereo effect. Although they’re more complex (and thus, expensive), an active system delivers more resolution per eye and a wider viewing angle than passive glasses do, according to Nvidia. Like the Elsa Revelators we first experienced 10 years ago, Nvidia’s GeForce 3D Vision kit is consequently active as well.
The GeForce 3D Vision Kit
But priced at $199, we’re a long way away from the TNT2 bundles seen a decade ago. The standalone kit includes wireless glasses, an infrared emitter responsible for communicating with the glasses, a DVI-to-HDMI cable used with DLP HDTVs, a pair of USB cables for connecting the emitter and charging the glasses, a VESA three-pin stereo cable used to sync with a DLP, a protective pouch, and a pair of nose pieces that offer a slightly different fit.
The glasses themselves certainly aren’t stylish, but they won’t land you on Page Six of The New York Post, either. More important, they’re actually light and comfortable, despite the electronics contained within. The ends of each frame are rubberized for a snug grip on the sides of your head, and if the stock nose piece doesn’t fit well, one of the two others should work better. Turning the shades on is as simple as pressing a small power button on the frame. And after 10 minutes of inactivity, they’ll automatically shut down. It takes three hours to fully charge the built-in battery and 40 hours of continuous use to fully drain them. We weren’t able to get 40 hours of testing in, but after going through seven games, we’re still on the first charge and they’re holding up well.
Control over the glasses is exercised by an included IR emitter, which has a 20-foot range and supports as many sets of shades as you feel like buying. The front of the transmitter sports a simple on/off button. The back sports a USB port that hooks up to your PC, a power indicator, a VESA cable port (in case you use the glasses with a DLP), and a thumbwheel to adjust depth (eye separation). By default, the depth setting is 15%, but we found that, in certain games, adjusting depth up or down (usually down) improved the experience.
Everything else in the package is complementary. USB cables are used to attach the IR emitter and to charge the glasses between uses. The DVI and VESA cables are only necessary if you use a DLP TV. And the storage pouch simply protects the glasses, which are actually glass and can be scratched if you leave them lying around.