- Comfortable design
- Reasonable value
- Good connection stability and performance
- Manual connection if you have to do it is a faff
- Requires PC-only firmware update for RF support
- Not quite truly universal
Review Price £75.00
Xpand X104 - Introduction
There are many reasons why 3D hasn't caught on as much as TV manufacturers and Hollywood hoped it would. But one of the biggest issues where we're concerned is the absence of a truly universal 3D glasses standard for active 3D TVs.
With the first generation of 3D TVs, even though everyone used infra-red transmission to send 3D signal data from their TVs and projectors to their active 3D glasses, the glasses for one brand of 3D TV hardly ever worked with another brand of 3D TV. This made it impossible for friends with different 3D TVs to share their glasses around during group viewing sessions, and meaning that if you ever changed your 3D TV to another brand, those brand-specific 3D glasses you may have spent up to £100 on for each pair might well not work with your new 3D TV.
The situation got even worse from the second generation of 3D TVs, as some brands switched to RF transmission systems while others stuck with IR.
However, while this confusion might be irritating for consumers with active 3D TVs (it's not an issue, of course, with passive 3D TVs and glasses), it represents a great commercial opportunity if you're a quick-thinking independent 3D glasses brand like XPAND. An opportunity XPAND wants to grab with both hands via its Xpand X104 Universal - or Youniversal, to use XPAND's own jargon - 3D glasses.
Xpand X104 - One pair of glasses to rule them all
The idea behind these active 3D glasses is simple: they're able to recognise and adapt to many different shuttering mechanisms and protocols, so that they will work with - in theory... - every type and brand of active 3D out there.
When they first launched, the X104s catered just for different IR 3D transmission systems, but now they ship with a little USB dongle that also delivers compatibility with TVs and projectors that use RF transmission systems.
Xpand X104 - RF and IR support included
UK distributor Kalibrate (www.chromapure.co.uk) originally shipped the X104 glasses without the RF dongle, selling the dongle only as an optional extra. But in recent times they've sensibly started selling both items as a package. They've also at the time of writing reduced the combined price for the glasses and dongle to £75 from an original total of around £100.
Even at this reduced price the X104 glasses are slightly more expensive than most manufacturer specific glasses. But only by a few quid, generally, which doesn't seem an excessive amount of extra cash to find when in return you're getting the peace of mind that your glasses should work with most future 3D TVs as well as the one you've got now.
Xpand X104 - Design
You also get quite a bit of physical content for your buck. The glasses arrive in a surprisingly robust hard case with a piece of useful cleaning fabric, and the glasses themselves are decidedly chunky compared with the ultra-skinny frames and ear hooks of Samsung's latest active shutter glasses, or the lightweight designs of most passive 3D glasses.
The rather chunky look of the glasses may put some people off them right away, we guess. But actually we don't mind their bulk, for their large frames help keep some ambient light out of your peripheral vision so you focus more on the 3D experience in front of you.