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

Subjective Tests: Does Blu-ray 3D Live Up To The Hype?

Unfortunately, we can't effectively take a screenshot and allow you to experience what it's like to watch a Blu-ray 3D movie on a 120 Hz alternate-frame-sequential monitor. What we can do is share the opinions and experiences of a number of test subjects. We recruited a group of volunteers to try it out by watching the entire full-length feature film, Monsters vs Aliens 3D. Reporting their comments might be the best way to impart a sense of what Blu-ray 3D is like on the PC. As the author, I'm going to begin by describing my experience.

Don Woligroski
Age: 36
Occupation: Hardware Editor

I'm not a typical test subject because 3D technology isn't new to me. I've been paying attention to and sometimes reviewing the available options for years.

Up until this point, the best 3D experience I've had was either in the theater or when playing games on a passively polarized projector system. I think that movies like UP and Avatar show well in a 3D theater and the brightness is phenomenal. Unfortunately, the crosstalk and ghosting artifacts are sometimes distracting, but I've never found them to be show-stoppers.

The worst 3D experiences I've had were years ago with the eDimensional 3D glasses at 60 Hz refresh rates and half resolution. The strobing effect was obvious and disorienting, and could certainly cause headaches. It worked a little better when paired with the first-generation Nvidia stereoscopic 3D drivers to work at higher refresh rates and full resolution; 85 Hz provided an acceptable solution for the day, but the result was far from ideal. Because of this experience, I've remained leery of alternate-frame sequencing and LCD shutter glasses.

To my surprise, I found that Nvidia's execution of 3D Vision, using the 120 Hz LCD alternate-frame sequencing method, provided a very smooth playback experience. I will even go as far as to say that it's the clearest, cleanest 3D movie experience I have had thus far. The 3D effect did seem superior to the experience that movie theaters offer. On top of this, I found that Nvidia's 3D Vision glasses were comfortable, even when worn on top of my prescription glasses.

However, 3D Vision is not perfect. The biggest drawback is that a lot of light is lost through the LCD shutter glasses. There were a few times during Monsters vs Aliens 3D when the screen was so dark that it was distracting. That is not to say that the brightness issue negates the usability of a 120 Hz alternate-frame sequential display, but it is by far the most obvious weakness of this format.

A secondary issue that surprised me when watching the film was that crosstalk and ghosting made occasional appearances. The problem was minimal (far less than polarized setups), but the artifacts did pop up here and there, specifically on very bright objects.

In addition, the viewer's experience is affected by their position. If I sat more than 45 degrees off-center, there was a noticeable drop in brightness and overall quality. Admittedly, the testing was done on a 24” monitor, and a larger 3D-ready HDTV would likely have allowed a bit more leeway for the seating orientation.

Overall, these critical points are relatively minor in the context that there is no other full-resolution option for Blu-ray 3D playback on the PC even announced at this time. The movie was watchable, enjoyable, and extremely clear and crisp with impeccable 3D depth. As long as the buyer is aware of the pluses and minuses, I have no reservations about bestowing a hearty recommendation for Blu-ray 3D in general, and Nvidia's 3D Vision solution in particular, when it comes to viewing 3D on the PC.

  • Annisman
    The big issue I have with Blu-Ray on the PC is this: There is no free, or reasonably priced software to play Blu-Ray disks. I was pretty much forced to purchase Power DVD 10 Ultra for 110$, as there is no other application that I have found to watch Blu-Ray with. Of course you can 'screw the man' and go pirate Power DVD, but that's probably the main reason I have to shell out over a hundred bucks for the software in the first place. We need an integrated software solution for BD as it is becoming more mainstream. What happened to Blu-Ray playback being included with WMP for Windows 7 ? VLC doesn't even have a solution, what is the reason we don't have 3rd party BD software yet ? Until that is addressed, I can't see Blu-Ray on the PC being viable.
  • joytech22
    I gotta say i own Nvidia's 3D vision kit + a BD drive + a GTX470 and i just cant wait until the 3D Blu-Ray's are released but first i need to replace my Samsung 2233RZ since the top 15-20% is no longer in 3D.

    So far i have had a Very positive experience with Nvidia's solution!
  • ajy0903
    And also we need to have bigger 3D monitor for PC then what they have currently!!!!!!!!!
  • jrazor247
    seems most 3d movies are cg currently. probably the entire tool chain to edit and post process digital film has to be upgraded. adding stereoscopic cameras to production is probably the easiest. in a computer generated movie, all the processing can be converted to 3d almost natively in the rendering software. I went to a see the 3d vision setup at a blockbuster near my house. it showed games and animated movies in 3d. the real wow effect came watching footage of people skydiving in 3d. once 3d video production ramps up, its here to stay. i would be addicted to watching sports and performances in 3d. the next road block would be distribution, as the cable and sat providers would have to double bandwidth - artifacts from over compression would def ruin 3d.
  • johnb4467
    If the hardware settles 7 stabilizes, this is something I would be interested in, whether it's for the PC or the upcoming PS3 firmware update.
    I do agree, however, that there needs to be more built-in support for software. I'm sure that will find its way into apps such as XBMC and Plex eventually.
    This is going to be hardest for consumers to adopt who have sunk a lot of money into existing HDTV's...especially ones who 'claimed' 120hz refresh rates -- but won't work with 3D. My own TV is a low-end Westinghouse 1080p, so down the road I wouldn't mind upgrading...if the material and quality is there!
    FYI: I had older shutter glasses on my old PC & CRT display -- with a fast enough refresh headaches; it's really not an issue (current demos have confirmed this).
  • toxxel
    I wear glasses already, wearing another pair of glasses over my own is an annoyance. I've never really been a fan of 3D since my eyesight mostly keeps me from seeing anything 3D. I can see nearly perfect out of one eye but the other is another story. My first experience of a 3D polarized movie was Avatar. What I saw didn't impress, blurriness, strange effects from pronounced objects on the screen, felt distracted and ruined many scenes. I understand it's my eyesight that caused problems but I feel 3D won't become main stream simply because of the glasses, but if it were to I'd feel completely alienated seeing I don't have the same experience.
  • gti88
    Unfortunately, I don't expect the 3d to come to Formula 1 soon. At least, until Ecclestone is no longer in charge.
  • jsm6746
    this is mostly a rehash of the article you posted by cyberlink's tom vaughan yesterday... i must say i found his article much more informative... the benchmarks were all that was needed in this... the opinion piece was unnecessary... O_o,2632.html
  • cleeve
    jsm6746this is mostly a rehash of the article you posted by cyberlink's tom vaughan yesterday...
    I disagree with you there. Tom's article is a great Blu-ray 3D white paper, but it's not a Blu-ray 3D review. We did have to duplicate some of the information briefly so this article could stand on its own, but the focus of either article is quite different.
  • cknobman
    3d at home can suck it.

    New tv's, special glasses, limited viewing angles, new media, new monitors, special software to play them, new blue ray players, etc.., etc...

    Not to mention the general discomfort associated with having to watch things in 3d, the fact that 3d is NOT suitable for all situations, many people in the general public have an impairment that wont allow them to enjoy 3d, etc.., etc...

    Let this fad fade away and quickly!!! Im not reinvesting thousands and thousands of dollars into this new marketing gimmick. Its another way for the entertainment industry to make even more money off us. Now the push it to make all movies 3d and charge a mandatory 15-20 bucks per ticket to see it.

    Its just sad there is such a large portion of the population that mindlessly follows anything presented to them and like zombies will pay what they are told without regard to the cost/benefit ratio.