Glasses-free 3D

New offerings from Nintendo, LG and HTC aim to make 3D less annoying

By Nigel Chiwaya

Nintendo 3dsI think it’s safe to say that most of us are a little sick of 3D.

When 3D returned to mainstream movies starting with 2009’s My Bloody Valentine, business execs and suits from every walk of the entertainment world began hailing it as the next big thing. Soon we were seeing studios trip over themselves to add 3D elements to their films. Never mind that most films, like 2009’s Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, weren’t ready for 3D and only showed 10 minutes of the movie in the third dimension, the assault was on.

By the time Christmas 2009 and Avatar rolled around everyone was onboard the gravy train. We were seeing our first 3D television sets; Sony began to dabble with 3D Playstation 3 games; and every single movie had a 3D variant to go along with it.

And yet 3D never really took off. Sales of 3D televisions have been stagnant, and no one really plays those 3D PS3 games.

“…most of us are a little sick of 3D”

Why? Part of it was price: in order to enjoy 3D at home you would have to buy a brand new television set, and it was hard to convince the recession-hammered consumer that the HDTV they spent $2,000 on two years ago was suddenly obsolete.

The other part was simple: 3D is just kinda cumbersome. In order to watch anything you have to wear bulky glasses (and heaven forbid if you already wear eyeglasses).

But it seems like the entertainment companies are getting the message, and while they might not be banishing 3D to the same corner of the tech world as Betamax and HD-DVD, at least they’re starting to tweak it.

Want proof? Take a look at the latest offerings from Nintendo, LG, and HTC. These companies are offering devices that promise to offer a full 3D experience without the need for bulky glasses and at a reasonable price point.

First: Nintendo. In March they released their latest Gameboy successor: the Nintendo 3DS. Like the Nintendo DS before it, this handheld system offers two screens and fully 3D graphics. However, the device gets its name because the top screen is a 3D screen and can project a 3D image. Even better, there is no need for eyeglasses; the user just needs to focus their eyes.

Nintendo also smartly realizes that not everyone will want or even be able to play 3D games–some people get headaches–so they have included a slider button on the device which can control the intensity of the 3D images.

When it comes to affordability, the 3DS is priced at $249.99.

Moving away from the gaming sector, we have LG and HTC, two smartphone manufacturers. Their latest cellphones, the LG Thrill 4G and the HTC EVO 3D, respectively, offer the same 3D technology as the 3DS, removing the need for 3D glasses. Both devices even include a 3D camera for taking photos, and will offer a full suite of 3D games and apps.

While neither phone has a launch date or price yet, we can assume that the devices will be priced at the usual $199-$249.99 smartphone price range when they launch on their respective networks: the Thrill 4G on AT&T and the EVO 3D on Sprint.

That’s not to say that these products are perfect; in fact there are many quite a few issues with them. Since they don’t require 3D glasses, the viewing angle for the screens is very small–the moment you un-focus your eyes or move the device the 3D effect will vanish.

Also, there is yet to be compelling evidence that 3D really adds to games or movies, and there is especially little evidence to prove that 3D will work on such small screens.

But that’s what makes these devices so compelling; the 3D aspect is not the dominating feature and can be turned off. The 3DS has other compelling features to it, like augmented reality games that make use of the device’s camera. The LG Thrill and EVO 3D are still more powerful than some laptop computers and have access to over 130,000 apps.

With these three devices, 3D is just a gimmick, a nice side-feature. And that’s exactly what it should be.

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Posted by on May 12 2011. Filed under Featured Articles, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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