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3D Stereo Gaming Without Expensive Shutters

Zalman is about to make available it's line of Trimon 3D LCD display series, which was initially announced at CES.

We had the chance to sit down in front of a few of them and test drive their 3D-ness and while the solution does have some caveats, overall, we were impressed. It's difficult to convey what the experience is like through text, so you'll just have to trust our word.

The first demo we were given was a set of rotating balls. It took time to settle into the sweet spot. We test drove a 21.5-incher and while all three of Zalman's Trimon models exhibited good horizontal viewing angles in 3D, the vertical angle for 3D was very narrow. In fact, unless you were within 5 to 10-degrees of the vertical sweet spot, you would lose the stereoscopic effect immediately.

Once in the sweet spot though, we were immediately treated to very realistic 3D effects in several demos: movies, 3D apps, and games. In all of the demos, the ball and ocean demo stuck out -- literally -- as the most impressive of the bunch. Primary due to content, Zalman's Trimon displays were able to create the out-of-screen effect that most other 3D solutions lack. What you'll find with most stereo-3D solutions is that while the picture has depth, it is "into the screen" rather than being able to do that and leap at you.

The glasses that were given to us were circular-polarized, this means several things:

First, you're not crippled down to how much money you're willing to spend on shutter glasses to share the experience, or replace if damaged. Competitively, it costs roughly $100 on average to replace synced shutter LCD glasses. Zalman's glasses are completely passive and are relatively cheap to buy. According to Zalman, a pair of glasses costs less than $20.

Second, the glasses are lightweight and are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Some users have claimed dizziness or even nausea after using shutter glasses, but with these, no such side effects are created. For those who are already wearing glasses, Zalman has a clip-on solution that attaches itself to your glasses' nose bridge and simply flips down.

Third, the circular-polarization of Zalman's glasses means that you can lie down and watch a 3D movie without worrying about your image going totally black. This effect happens with vertical-horizontal polarized glasses, such as those used on some of the recent Samsung 3D HDTVs.

One major aspect of Zalman's solution was the fact that it was able to support multiple simultaneous screens with one pair of glasses, something shutter glasses cannot do because of LCD syncing.

Besides all the technical points, the 3D effect was as impressive as what you can get at the movies, albeit at a smaller scale. What's the entry price for a total solution?

Zalman says: MSRP for the 21.5-inch will come in at roughly $479.99, and no price currently exists for the 24-inch and 32-inch models.

While this seems like a steep entry into 3D, don't forget that with other 3D solutions, you're also forced to pay for a high-refresh rate LCD as well as shutter solutions, which can be expensive if malfunctioning. Availability for the 21.5 inch will be in June of this year, with no confirmed date for the other two.