You know, for ages we all have been fascinated by illusions. We like to be surprised, flabbergasted and impressed. Magicians and illusionists therefore appeal to us very much. Who doesn't love a good card trick or the mystery of a disappearing Statue of Liberty?
When you think about it for a while it's in that same line of thinking where 3D stereo gaming can be placed. We, for whatever reason, like to trick our brain into seeing something that isn't there or that is out of the ordinary... we like to trick our brain.
3D stereo ladies and gentlemen is all about deception. We fire off impulses to our eyes that are perceived as depth in our brain, how does that work you ask? Well in the case of NVIDIA's GeForce 3D Vision... it's simply fascinating technology actually. And you know what? It isn't even new.
In fact I think it was 2002~2004 when we tested several 'stereo 3D' kits. Back then really interesting technology, but certainly with some concerns. First off, any monitor below a 100hz refresh rate wouldn't cut it. See, alternating each eye would receive 50 Hz giving you a massive headache due to monitor flicker. Back then CRT monitors were hot stuff, yet then came LCD. Rendering the 3D stereoscopic experience nearly impossible, with their fixed 60hz refresh rates.
Also back in the day a huge problem was driver support. Your games need proper support to be able to run in 3D stereo / 3D Vision mode. NVIDIA certainly has not been, and how do I say this carefully, 'releasing drivers on a regular basis'. Again, rendering the 3D stereoscopic experience nearly impossible. To this very date driver support has been an issue. The last company to experience all this was Zalman. They had to wave a big bag of money at NVIDIA to get their new 3D monitors up and running with 3D stereo support. And we all know where their monitors will end up.
Anyway, these two things were key to solve and had to be overcome: driver support and high refresh rate monitors.
NVIDIA therefore teamed up with Samsung to optionally bundle 120 Hz LCD monitors with their all new 3D stereo shutter glasses technology. NVIDIA on their end got driver support (limited to this kit only and very few monitors) up and going to a state where it's really good. Next to that, they redesigned the approach to the overall gaming experience. A set of shutter glasses that is wireless and rechargeable, games that are supported in the new drivers will automatically kick in 3D mode and next to that, NVIDIA really wanted a cool looking kit.
It is now 2009, a lot in the stereoscopic market segment has changed and sure, a lot hasn't. With the new GeForce 3D Vision stereo kits now slowly becoming available here in Europe, we figured it's a good time to have a look at them. We asked NVIDIA to send out the complete bundle, with a Samsung 120Hz LCD monitor and shutter glasses kit for a full review.
Let's have a look at the 3D stereo gaming experience anno 2009 and see how far 3D has really come. But first of course a little 101 on stereoscopic imaging.
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