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

Conclusion: Blu-ray 3D Looks Promising On The PC

As far as its potential impact on the consumer space, it seems a foregone conclusion that Blu-ray 3D will be the first 3D media technology that will successfully break into the mainstream. Consumer 3D media solutions have come and gone many times in the past, but never before has the movie industry and TV manufacturing industry poured their collective weight behind a single 3D media display format to this extent at the same time.

3D movies are being released at an accelerating rate in theaters, and there is a lot of incentive for these companies to cash in on a new format--a premium 3D media format, if you will. The blockbuster Avatar has proven that 3D content can appeal to the mass market. If 3D ever had a chance to make it in the home, it's now.

On the whole, we find Blu-ray 3D played on full-resolution 120 Hz LCD screens to be the ultimate consumer-level 3D display available today, and it will likely remain in that position for many years to come (perhaps until a full-resolution, glasses-free solution arrives). The clarity is wonderful, the 3D effect is breathtaking, and 3D Vision technology is ideal for bringing these advantages to the PC user.

Full Length 3D Movies By Year
YearNumber of Feature-Length 3D Movies
201021 (announced so far)
200917
20085
source: www.3dmovielist.comlist does not take short films or IMAX-exclusive films into account

Having experienced the early days of LCD shutter glasses in conjunction with slower 60 Hz and 85 Hz refresh rates, I admit I was a little skeptical when it came to the potential of the new 120 Hz re-spin of the technology. But after trying it out and getting a lot of feedback from test subjects, I can happily report that 3D Vision didn't cause headaches or unpleasant side effects. That's not to say everyone's experience will be the same as my own, but it's certainly very promising compared to the previous-generation, LCD shutter glasses technology. It's not quite perfect. The relative darkness of the experience is an issue. But it's the best consumer option I've seen so far.

When it comes to hardware, a budget dual-core system equipped with a sub-$100 GeForce GT 240 graphics card and a Blu-ray drive is more than sufficient to push great Blu-ray 3D performance, thanks to Nvidia's GPU-accelerated MPV decoding. A 3D Vision kit and 24” 3D Vision-compatible monitor will add the largest chunk of change to the system, and don't forget CyberLink's PowerDVD 10 Ultra Mark II to finish the list of everything you need for Blu-ray 3D playback. The cost of the whole setup is a lot less than the cheapest 120 Hz 3D-ready LCD TVs available right now, but the tradeoff is a 24” display size instead of 40” or more. Of course, in a few months, Nvidia will remedy this situation with 3DTV Play, software that will enable PCs to accommodate Blu-ray 3D data over an HDMI 1.4 connection.

Indeed, Nvidia and CyberLink have worked hard to prepare the Blu-ray 3D infrastructure for the PC, and the initial results we've seen are very impressive. As with all pre-release hardware and software, it wasn't a perfect experience, but the foundation is solid, and the potential is undeniable.

As all of the components mature over the months ahead, Blu-ray 3D will further cement its place in the PC ecosystem. And so it begins. More Blu-ray 3D hardware means a larger user base, a larger user base means there will be more incentive to create 3D content, and the snowball will keep rolling. Who knows how far it will go? Maybe in 30 years, people will think back nostalgically about today's 2D video, the way we currently think of black-and-white movies. For now, though, it's a reality and early adopters are on the verge of taking Blu-ray 3D home to their PCs.

(Here's a shout out to Ryan Malzensky from the Regent Avenue Future Shop in Winnipeg for helping us complete this review. Thanks Ryan!)

  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • ajy0903
    And also we need to have bigger 3D monitor for PC then what they have currently!!!!!!!!!
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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 rate...no headaches; it's really not an issue (current demos have confirmed this).
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • gti88
    Unfortunately, I don't expect the 3d to come to Formula 1 soon. At least, until Ecclestone is no longer in charge.
    Reply
  • 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

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/blu-ray-3d-3d-video-3d-tv,2632.html
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply