Back at CES 2011, Toshiba's glasses-free 3D laptop wowed us, going on to win our Best of CES award for the Prototype category. We didn't expect the proof-of-concept hardware to work its way into a final product anytime soon, but apparently Toshiba had other ideas. The Qosmio F750 was previously announced in the U.K. for an August release, and now Toshiba's American arm has put a firm price and date on the U.S. version. Here, it'll be called the Qosmio F755, and will be available starting August 16, for $1,699.
Like the CES prototype, the Qosmio F755 has a 15-inch 1080p display that uses special eye-tracking software to to track the viewer's head movement and adjust the stereoscopic image accordingly, via the built-in Webcam. Back in January, we checked it out in person (see the video embedded below) and said, "The effects worked, but they weren't perfect. A scene from "Avatar" demonstrated good depth effects, but the overall video quality did seem to suffer compared with a 3D Blu-ray experience."
Now that we've had a chance to check out the final retail version, our impressions remain largely positive, although this will still be a niche product. Blu-ray content in 3D looked excellent, but took a resolution hit. Like a 3D TV, it requires a few moments to orient your eyes, especially if you're not used to watching 3D content. But the eye-tracking allowed for a reasonable amount of freedom of movement, and the 3D effect worked from an off-axis side view. However, since the Webcam tracks your eyes to properly orient the view, it works best for one viewer at a time.
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We tried a 2D-to-3D conversion utility built into Toshiba's media playback software as well, and it worked about as well as the 2D-to-3D on a 3D TV, which is to say, it's an amusing novelty, but we can't imagine using it extensively.
While $1,699 is at the high end of the laptop spectrum these days, the non-3D parts of the Qosmio F755 are impressive. In the single fixed-configuration model, you get an Intel Core i7-2630QM CPU, 6GB of RAM, an Nvidia GeForce GT540M, a 750GB, 5,400rpm hard drive, and a Blu-ray-RW drive (which is something of a rarity).
Glasses-free 3D, also called autostereoscopic 3D, is definitely the future of 3D, and this is, along with the Nintendo 3DS, one of the first serious attempts at using it in a consumer product. The Qosmio F755 still has a few hurdles to jump, however. While in 3D mode, the maximum resolution drops to 1,366x768 pixels, and for now, the system only works with 3D Blu-ray Discs and downloaded 3D video content. Streaming 3D content, such as the movies available from Vudu, won't work, nor will games, although Toshiba says it's working with Nvidia to add a gaming update this fall (Toshiba already has a laptop that uses Nvidia's active shutter 3D Vision glasses, the Qosmio X775).
The $1,699 Toshiba Qosmio F755 will be available from August 16 in Fry's retail stores, and online from Best Buy, Newegg, and other Web sites. Below is our hands-on video of the Toshiba prototype from CES 2011.