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nVision 08: Viewsonic, Mitsubishi Demo Stereoscopic 3D

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Jen-Hsun Huang mentioned what he called "dimensionalisation" - the coming of age of 3D technology as the next step in our visual interaction with our computing devices - during his keynote yesterday. Unsurprisingly nVidia has been working with a few partners to get this technology running, and Viewsonic has a set of prototype panels on the show floor showcasing both its own and nVidia's latest developments in the area.

Mitsubishi had a 70in 3D DLP on show, too, but when I asked the product manager if they would be shipping to the UK he told me no because supposedly "the UK doesn't like big TVs" - I can only hope he means really big such as the 70in monster here at nVison. Not that the fact the TVs won't be available in the UK makes playing Guitar Hero on a 70in 3D display any less awesome!

Back to Viewsonic, the monitor in question sports a 1,680 x 1,050 resolution panel with a 3ms grey-to-grey response time, 1,000:1 contrast ratio and an all-important 120Hz refresh rate. That refresh rate is combined with 3D glasses from nVidia to allow an effective 60Hz refresh rate for each eye. Unlike Zalman's solution, which uses polarised lenses to provide passive filtering, nVidia's newer technology uses active glasses that have LCD panels inside them to block the left and right eyes alternately.

The glasses are synced to the PC via an infrared transmitter. The benefit of infrared is that multiple users can have their glasses all synced to the same transmitter. On a small display like a monitor that's maybe less important, but on a bigger-screen, or a TV, it's very cool watching two or three people checking out the 3D effect.

Another benefit, according to nVidia, of this active, 120Hz-based system is that each eye sees a full resolution image. With polarized lenses, each eye only sees half the rendered screen at any one time. Whether it was Viewsonic using a superior panel, or superior 3D technology is hard to determine, but the image definitely looked better than Zalman's solution. The placement of a wheel for 3D depth control on the back of the transmitter is better than trying to remember hotkeys, too.

However, as bit-tech.net's Tim Smalley remarked to me: it all falls down once you look in the mirror.

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