Author: Hilbert Hagedoorn
Little mind wondering. Someone designs 3D glasses and does not have a name for it yet, marketing dude tries them on for the first time, game starts and shouts .. eeey 3D ! I believe that's the way this product obtained it's name. Okay, okay .. yes it's more likely it's you see 3D with your eyes and that whas the basis for this products name, but I definitely like my version better ;)
Today we'll be looking at a set of Stereo 3D glasses from Eye3D with a gamers point of view. 3-Qubed send us in the premium version, and that means a set of wireless infrared, and a set of wired, LCD shutter glasses. Glasses compatible with Glide, OpenGL and Direct3D. As noted, wireless. It's the thing of 2002, everything gets unplugged. It's a trend that will develop rapidly and hey .. why not. Who needs wires everywhere when you can do without them right ? 3-Qubed is one of the companies distributing this product while the product itself is produced by iArt3D.
Shortly 3-Qubed will become one of the rare companies that actually manufacture 3D LCD Shutter Glasses in the USA, specifically McAllen, TX. They are negotiating with iart3d now to buy the rights and tooling equipment. This will make bring new advantages to the user since the price of the glasses can eventually come down, also the availability of truly unique and powerful glasses will make the Stereoscopic 3d gaming even more enjoyable. The Eye3D Premium is unique in many ways.
Before we start, We strongly recommend you to read our generic stereo article first as this will make you understand the technology that we are reviewing a tad better. Also, if you decide to buy these glasses and try 'em on then send the girlfriend away, she will either burst in to laughter or likely leave you. With the glasses on you will look like a complete idiot ;)
Eye3D Premium Features:
- Support most of popular 3D accelerator cards
- Great for most of popular PC Games, support Direct3D, OpenGL and Glide
- Provides 3D Modes -Interlacing, Page-Flipping, Sync-Doubling
- Able to view 3D film, 3D animation or 3D still image
- Supports more than 1600 x 1200 Resolution
- Compatible with other 3D game drivers
- Supports high refresh rate without any flicker
- Large LCS glasses design to have a wider sight view
- Two glasses optional for multiple users
- With VR Show! & 3D Studio Max, 3D still image and 3D animation can be done by DIY
Wired Eye3D - pretty good looking glasses
When we read the box we'll notice:
Pentium 90 or higher
32 MB RAM
MultiScan monitor with 120 Hz refreshrate
VGA card with at least 16-bit color depth.
Okay, so my PDA is probably faster then the suggested requirements are. I suggest you multiply the requirements by 10 and that would be the bare minimum. Seriously, if you are going to play around with 3D Goggles in games you'll need good CPU power and an excellent videocard (I recommend a GeForce3 Ultra/Radeon 7500 or higher) and a really good CRT monitor that can do a high refreshrate. The last one is very important. I'm going to use a quote that Johannes wrote in our eDimensional glasses article that explains it perfectly:
The glasses use a technology called "sync doubling" to create the stereo effect. (here you have the reason for the huge performance drop when you use Stereo3D)
Sync doubling arranges the left and right eye images up and down. It will render two images at the same time. (which should be the "two slightly different pictures" that are necessary to create the stereo effect)
One image is situated on top of the rendered frame, one is on the bottom. The trick of sync doubling is to place an additional v-sync between each of the "subimages". That's where "sync-doubling" got its name from: because of the additional v-sync the whole sync rate gets doubled.
Now these two sub images are being interlaced and then drawn synchronized to the refresh rate. (the shutterglasses are synced to this too).
Be sure that you have a monitor that supports at least 100Hz in your preferred resolutions.
Installation - When we open up the box we immediately notice the package is well taken care off. Loads of software and very good looking hardware. Among the software we'll find an Eye3D driver/utilies CD, Stereo3D PowerDVD (full version), VR Show!, 3D Showcase 3-Qubed Bonus pack CD with photo samples, stereoscopic pairs and lots of samples. Very complete and everything we need to get started.
The hardware itself consists out:
1st set of glasses, this is the wired version
VGA Dongle that connects between your videocard and monitor
TX4000 Emitter - allows switching between modes and communicates with wireless and wired glasses
TX4000 Emitter - On the right plugs for two sets wired glasses
RX4000 Receiver which plugs into your wireless glasses and two batteries that power the receiver module below.
RX4000 receiver module - You hook this on up to your wireless glasses and carry it on your pocket or something.
Furthermore, that bucketload of software we noticed, it unfortunately was quite outdated. More on that in the conclusion.
Okay, off we go with the installation which is quite easy to do. First thing first, as you prolly noticed from the images .. it's not completely wireless is it ? You connect the wireless glasses to the RX 4000 receiver.
That one goes to the receiver module which fits onto the glasses and from there on you are wireless. Ah well.. you are not hooked up to the PC and can actual walk away freely which surely is fun. Of course the VGA dongle is connected between your VGA videocard and the monitor like this:
Once you plugged in the VGA dongle one cable leads to the transmitter. When you open up the box you'll think 'geez, all that stuff' but it's rather easy to hook everything up easily.
Once everything is connected we start up the rig. First impression: no 2D quality loss due to the dongle, which is very good. We'll be testing these goggles with a GeForce4 Ti 4600 and of course grab the latest 3D Stereo drivers from the Guru3D.com file-section (NVIDIA calls this software a "driver", but it is not a driver, it's just a tool to configure the stereo mode.
I've chosen the 29.80 'drivers', installed them, rebooted and we're good to go. After rebooting I check the display properties and notice that a tab was added with the name 'Stereo Properties'.
As you figured out, that's the one we need. Let's talk about the 'drivers' a little.
Driver installation (continued)
At first we need to install the control panel from the driver cd.
We used the version 29.80 ("StereoE29.80.exe") for the next tests.
Once it's installed and the pc was restarted, we can begin to configure the glasses.
The main points to take note of here are:
At first the Stereo Separation slider needs to be set to a value of our choice. Later it will definitely be necessary to change this value again, but for now, it doesn't matter.
Our glasses are "Page Flipped" so we need to set this too.
Finally, we enable the stereo mode by clicking on "Enable".
Yes, that's basically all, simple wasn't it ? :-)
Quick note, Eye3D Premium can use 4 modes, page flipping, sys-doubling, interlace and line blanking.
Now the driver is set up and will use the Stereo mode with the next OpenGL / Direct3D application.
Let's do the first test:
By clicking the "Medical Test Image" button we can check if everything works. We now have to turn the receiver on to see stereo by hitting the middle button.
VoilÃ ---> Stereo!
This of course was only a shortened way to enable stereo, you can control much more of the stereo feature. But this is to be discussed in another article. The NVIDIA Stereo panel is quick and easy to setup, within seconds you can enjoy games in 3D without too much hassle or a hard to understand setup.
Installation of the Wicked3D "H3D" Stereo drivers for non-NVIDIA cards
The H3D driver comes from the company Wicked3D, they are working on stereoscopy for several years now. AFAIK Version 5.02 was the last driver that was released by Wicked3D.
You want to know more about H3D? Just look here.
The glasses are "H3D enabled", but it is highly recommended not to use the Wicked3D driver if you have a NVIDIA videocard ! Otherwise you should be able to use the driver with no problems at all. We will do this test with a GeForce 3.
The Wicked3D driver installation is quite simple. We put the CD into the drive and the installation begins.
Select the videocard of your choice:
Version 4.11 works with: 3Dfx Banshee, 3Dfx Voodoo2, 3, 4, 5, ATI Radeon, ATI Rage 128 & 128GL, ATI Rage 128 Pro, Intel i740, Intel i752, Intel i810, Matrox Millennium G200, G400, G450, NVIDIA GeForce 256, GeForce 2 GTS, GeForce 2 MX, NVIDIA RivaTNT, TNT2, TNT2 Ultra, TNT2 M64, PowerVR Kyro I, S3 Savage2000, Savage 4, Savage 3D
Version 5.02 beta also supports NVIDIA GeForce2 Integrated GPU, GeForce3; ATI Radeon RV200, Radeon RV100, Radeon Mobility, Radeon M7, Radeon U1, Radeon A3; PowerVR KYRO)
After you've chosen the videocard and went through the small rest of the installation you will be asked to restart the pc. When Windows starts the next time then the real configuration will begin.
After the last step you will be shown a test application, which instantly worked well with the Geforce 3. But we also have to turn the receiver on to see stereo.
VoilÃ ---> Stereo!
There was no noticeable difference between the NVIDIA Stereo driver and the H3D driver at this time. But later, when we wanted to play some games,we noticed that with the H3D driver the Stereo3D did not work AT ALL with the GeForce 3. Only the test application worked.
So we installed an old Voodoo2 (combined with a 4MB S3 PCI videocard) to see if that really was a "GeForce-only" problem.
And indeed, on the Voodoo2 the Wicked3D drivers worked well as planned.
right, back to the NVIDIA graphics card drivers test. Within the predefined settings you can select your preferences, every person and for that matter eye differs and what one can take the other can't. I immediately clicked Stereo mode enabled, hit Medical test image and the show starts. The monitor displays a blurry image and thus is outputting in Stereo. On the receiver I click the mode select button once and that's it.
After a little adjusting I'm satisfied with the results. Now let's see if the drivers really support OpenGL and Direct3D. As I was testing the glasses on a dedicated graphics card test-rig I did not have many games installed. So I started up 3D Mark 2001 SE and hey .. it works. With a weird smile on my face I witnessed 3D Mark 2001 in 3D for the first time. Seriously, once you hit the bump mapped alien guy all you can say is ooh an aah.
Next stop, Code Creatures benchmark. Again 3D worked perfectly .. the benchmark itself ran _really_ slow .. but can't blame the Eye3D for that now can I ? Did I mention your performance will be cut in half already ? No .. well it does. Next stop, OpenGL .. again not one problem here. Loaded up Quake III and as soon as the game starts you are in 3D mode. I also gave Return to Castle Wolfenstein a run for it's money and again it ran peachy perfect. The last benchmark software I tried was VulpineGL. Then I fired up IL2-sturmovic, the world's best flightsim. Man .. one word here, awesome. Again no problems whatsoever. Drivers from NVIDIA seem to behave rock-solid with the nifty glasses.
I have to admit though, my monitor was limited to a 100Hz refresh rate in 1024x768. As each eye sees every other frame that virtually means I was watching 50Hz. And yes after a minute or 30 my eyes got tired, not only due to the '50Hz' but looking and playing in 3D is a whole other ballgame as it's very intense.
Now that I have seen and tested the wired glasses, move on the the wireless. The wireless version works really good as well, within a ~120 degree angle of the transmitter the glasses will respond extreme accurate. It helps, not being hooked up to the gaming rig as it gives you some freedom. Also when you use the wired version, you can give the wireless version to a friend sitting next to you also that the both of you can enjoy the game. That works very well actually ..
Concluding - the Eye3D is a very nice product. Hardware wise this set absolutely rocks and will fulfill your expectations. What I did not like was the software package as it is really outdated. The product was assembled in the Windows 98 era and then never updated again. The special 3D PowerDVD example 'should work' on Windows XP as I've been told. Well, I tested it on ME and it crashed hard. Also the up-to-date drivers that you mostly need like the new 29.80 Stereo drivers from NVIDIA are not included on the driver CD. I imagine if I did not have a lot of pc experience and bought this kit in the shop without doing some proper research I would get stuck easily. The 3-Qubed support site however will guide you into the right direction but support simply could be a tad better.
In my personal opinion the true power of this set is however really targeted at NVIDIA videocard users because NVIDIA delivers their own stereoscopic driver support. These drivers where missing on the driver CD. But if you grab the stereo drivers from NVIDIA or our file-base (29.80 version is now on-line) you are good to go as they will rock bigtime.
Contrary to the requirements I'm recommending that you have at least a decent system 1GHz+, GeForce2 Pro or better and a CRT monitor that can do 100 Hz at the least in a resolution of 1024x768! A good reason for this is that your game performance will be cut in half. Luckily most people have such a system by now as it is already moving into the low-end segment of PC's. If you own a LCD/TFT monitor, forget about this product as they are too slow in refreshrates. If you do not own an NVIDIA based card, well hey not a biggy also as you can use the included H3D drivers.
Articles like these are very hard to make as it is so damn difficult to explain what 3D Stereoscopy entails, but once you've experienced it you'll love it. I for one won't play IL2-Sturmovic anymore without the glasses as it's like being in the cockpit of that plane. Totally awesome as it ads a new kind of level into your gameplay enjoyment.
All in all, excellent hardware and excellent experience, software and manual should be updated though.
Last words and then I'll really shut up: I truly hope that 3-Qubed will be able to buy patents/rights from iArt3d and then can manufacture the glasses by themselves. 3D Stereo technology development is getting a bit old, it has been around for years now and really does not have to be this expensive anymore. The hardware can be built relatively cheap and the software support for most common graphics cards definitely have awesome potential. Everyone is interested in 3D technology and this visual 3D effects/gaming. But the price tag is exactly what's holding back the mainstream user.
Special thanks to Chris Hahn, president of 3-Qubed and distributors for the Eye3D 3D LCD Shutter glasses and stereoscopic 3D software for sending out the sample.