I reviewed the first version of Nvidia's 3D Vision technology more than two years ago. Since then, 3D has become synonymous with controversy. Whether it's higher movie ticket prices, 2D-to-3D conversions, or the home 3D TV dilemma, 3D definitely sparks interest.
According to Nvidia, the number of 3D-capable monitors increased by 112 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter in 2011 and the number of 3D notebooks increased by 126 percent in the same period. And with more than 550 3D games available on the PC. So, it would seem that at least hard-core gamers are taken with the tech.
The technology isn't perfect, though, and Nvidia seeks to improve the 3D experience in a couple of key ways with its new 3D Vision 2.
Glasses get a redesign, not an 'upgrade'
The original 3D Vision glasses were made of hard plastic, and thanks to their active-shutter technology made game images look a lot darker than when playing normally. Nvidia seeks to change that.
Though none of the actual hardware or base technology in the 3D Vision 1's glasses has changed for Vision 2, the company increased the size of the lenses by 20 percent, giving the user a wider viewing area. And, according to the company, the glasses block out external light more efficiently, resulting in higher color fidelity.
There's also now a silver Nvidia logo on the sides, and the material is made from soft composites, in hopes that your 3D glasses and headphones are no longer digging into your head, leaving unsightly marks.
The glasses are also backward-compatible with older 3D Vision content and hardware.
Boosting light levels
One of the criticisms of 3D gaming on the PC is just how dark games look when viewing them through 3D glasses. It kind of comes with the territory with active-shutter technology, but Samsung has found ways to minimize it. Nvidia is taking a different approach.
According to Nvidia, monitors supporting its new 3D LightBoost technology deliver up to two times brighter 3D images "than existing 3D solutions," as well as improved color quality. Nvidia also points out that environmental lighting is increased dramatically, making gaming keyboards and mice more visible in your
dark, dank man cave office. LightBoost also purportedly reduces 3D ghosting.
The ASUS VG278H is the first 3D LightBoost-certified desktop display. The monitor has a 27-inch LED-based screen, with a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution, an HDMI 1.4, and a Dual-link DVI input.
The monitor will also utilize Asus' upgraded overdrive technology called Trace-Free II and will feature a 120Hz refresh rate and 2ms response times. More LightBoost-compatible monitors are expected from Acer and BenQ in the next few months.
No verdict yet
Right now it's hard to say how much of a leap in performance 3D Vision 2 offers over the previous generation as well as over active-shutter tech on the PC from Samsung. Once we've had a chance to spend more than an hour with it, we'll have a better idea and will pass that information on to you.
The 3D Vision Kit 2 launches this month with a wireless USB IR emitter for $149, with the glasses alone available for $99. The Asus VG278H will also be available in October and come with a built-in IR emitter and 3D Vision 2 glasses for $699.