Xpand X104 - Performance
Now for the good news. When they do connect to an active 3D source, the X104s perform pretty much flawlessly. Synced signals seem completely stable; we didn't suffer any dropped connections throughout our testing phase with any of the eight products (including Epson projectors, Samsung TVs, Sony TVs and projectors, and Panasonic plasma TVs and projectors) we managed to get the glasses talking to.
The synchronisation also delivers 3D pictures that seem indistinguishable in quality from those we got using the dedicated glasses for each 3D product, with no more or less crosstalk, the same sense of depth and space, and seemingly the same amount of visible flicker if using them with the lights turned high.
It did seem to us that the X104s made pictures look ever so slightly darker than some of the brand-specific glasses. But the difference is minimal even when it's noticeable at all, and so isn't something we'd consider a deal breaker in the wider context of the X104’s ‘3D glasses for life' potential.
Not quite universal after all...
More concerning is the fact that we didn't manage to get our X104s talking to the aforementioned Philips 46PFL9707 TV - even though XPAND is confident that the glasses should support Philips products. XPAND also admits, though, that they don't work with Optoma 3D projectors. This admission together with our Philips problems inevitably makes us question the validity of the X104's 'Universal' description.
There's also the issue that more and more 3D screens and brands are starting to turn to LG's passive format. For instance, LG and Panasonic will have no active 3D models in their 2013 ranges, while the likes of Toshiba, Sony and Philips are also adding ever more passive models to their ranges. Only Samsung currently seems hell-bent on sticking exclusively with the active 3D format the X104s are designed to work with.
Having said all that, the X104's hit rate with our resident active 3D products was 80%, which isn't a bad figure really, especially if your current TV sports one of the definitely compatible brand names we listed earlier.
Xpand X104 - Verdict
It's a pity the X104s don't support RF protocols without the need for a firmware update - and it’s even more of a pity that this firmware update is only for PCs, not Macs. It's also unfortunate that the X104s don't quite live up to their 'universal' claims, and it's perhaps troubling from XPAND's perspective that passive 3Ds - with which the X104s don't work - are becoming increasingly prevalent, and that consumers generally seem to be losing interest in 3D.
With all that given due consideration, though, if you're a fan of 3D and you're attracted to the full HD appeal of the active 3D format, then the X104s are cheap enough and good enough to be well worth considering instead of any brand-specific extra 3D glasses you may have been thinking about getting.