3D was touted as the next big thing in home entertainment a couple of years ago. It started with televisions and projectors, and soon made its way to the PC as well. Companies like TriDef had 3D solutions for computers a long time ago but it never went mainstream. Nvidia took up that challenge and set out to bring 3D to the masses. With their popular GeForce graphics cards sitting cozily in most gamers' rigs, all that was needed was a 3D monitor and glasses to complete the set. With backing from Samsung and Viewsonic for the monitors, Nvidia launched 3D Vision in 2009. The product let gamers enjoy their favourite titles in 3D and worked out-of-the-box as everything was handled at the driver level. While it did work well, certain unavoidable issues cropped up. For instance, 3D monitors at the time were really expensive and couldn’t support resolutions beyond 1680 x 1050. Also, since 3D Vision used active shutter glasses, the game would appear dull and dark due to low brightness levels from the monitors.

The 3D Vision 2 kit

The 3D Vision 2 kit

Last October, Nvidia pulled the wraps off 3D Vision 2, a new and improved version of the glasses that promised a more comfortable fit, less flicker and a brighter picture. We’ve been testing this new kit for the better part of a week so let’s see how different these really are from the older ones.

Design and Build
Just as before, the 3D Vision 2 kit consists of the glasses, two USB cables (one 6ft and one 10ft), an IR emitter, storage pouch, two nose pieces and a quick start guide. You can buy the kit separately or pick up a 3D Vision 2 certified monitor such as the Asus VG278H, which has the IR emitter built into the bezel itself. The new glasses are compatible with the old kit so you can mix and match if you have an older kit with you already.

Glasses claim to deliver around 60-hours of battery life

The glasses claim to deliver around 60 hours of battery life

The glasses feel a lot better than the older ones. For starters, they don't have a glossy plastic finish, but are instead wrapped entirely in a  smooth rubberised coating. The new glasses are a tad heavier than the older ones at 56g due to the slightly larger frame but you’ll barely notice it. They are very comfortable to wear, and this goes for those with spectacles as well. You get two nose pieces so you can adjust the glasses to your comfort level. The active shutter lenses are also 20 percent bigger this time so you can see more of the screen in your peripheral vision, which means you can also sit closer to your screen while gaming. The glasses have a rubber lining along the upper rim of the lenses to shade you from unwanted ambient light. This gives you a better seal and thus a sharper 3D effect. While much improved, the glasses could have been built better. The rubber lining on top light feels flimsy and came right off with a light tug, so we’re not sure how they’ll hold up in the long run.

Twenty percent larger lenses offer a better 3D effect

Twenty percent larger lenses offer a better 3D effect

The glasses have a microUSB port for charging while the power button and LED light are placed on the side. The glasses still work using IR so line of sight is important, else you lose sync. There’s a built-in rechargeable battery, which Nvidia claims will last up to 60 hours on a single charge. The glasses work at up to 15ft from the receiver, which is more than enough since you’ll usually be sitting about 5ft from your PC.

Features
One of the big changes in 3D Vision 2 is the new 3D LightBoost technology. While it sounds fancy, what it really means is that newer monitors use a higher lumen level which gives you a brighter picture in 3D mode. The new glasses also don’t darken as much as the older ones when active thereby allowing more light in and at the same time allowing you to see your keyboard while gaming.

IR emitter built into the bezel

IR emitter built into the bezel of a monitor

The new 120Hz monitors have also come a long way since a few years ago. You can now game in 1920 x 1080 with the GPU pumping out 60 frames per eye per second for a stutter-free experience. It’s not only gaming though, you can watch 3D movies as well provided you have the content and the right player. PowerDVD has had support for 3D Blu-rays for a while now and will work with the 3D Vision kit. If you have a 3D TV, you can simply connect your gaming rig to it and game in 3D using the 3DTV Play software. Remember that you’ll have to use the 3D glasses that came with your TV since Nvidia’s glasses won’t be compatible with it.

Performance
Setting it up was super easy since we had an Asus monitor with the emitter built into it, so it was just a matter of installing an Nvidia graphics card and the drivers. To truly experience 3D Vision at its best, we threw a GTX 590 onto our Sandy Bridge test bench along with 8GB of RAM and Windows 7 64-bit installed on an Intel 520 Series SSD. You’ll also need a dual-link DVI cable or HDMI for this to work . The emitter in the Asus VG278H is placed dead center above the bezel with the ability to tilt forward and backwards so you can get a proper line of sight depending on your seating position.

The Asus VG278H

The Asus VG278H

Nvidia has added over 600 titles to the 3D Vision compatibility list including all the latest ones. When switched on, the image and surroundings darken a little but not as much as with the older kit. It’s like wearing a pair of lightly tinted shades. We fired up Dirt 3 which is certified as “Excellent” in the games compatibility list and rightfully so. The 3D effect is very good with good amount of depth and this applies to the menus as well. The slight flicker that was prevalent in the older glasses is almost non-existent. We noticed a slight issue with crosstalk in objects that were in the foreground but that was fixed by reducing the 3D depth in the control panel. The game ran smoothly thanks to the GTX 590 and we didn’t notice any ghosting or screen tearing. Batman: Arkham City looked even better if not the best out of the games we tried. The level of depth and overall picture was extremely sharp with no signs of crosstalk at all. This is because it’s heavily optimized for Nvidia cards as well as 3D. Unfortunately, you can’t escape the headaches and after just 15min of playing, we could feel a slight strain developing between our eyes.

The new rubberised finish feels nice

The new rubberised finish feels nice

We also tried using the older glasses with the monitor but for some reason, they just refused to sync and kept flickering. As soon we plugged in the external emitter from the older 3D Vision kit, the drivers automatically shut off the one in the monitor and engaged the external one. With this, we were able to use the older as well as newer glasses without any issue.

Verdict and Price in India
You can pick up the Nvidia 3D Vision 2 kit for Rs. 12,500, which is more or less the same price as the older kit. If you want to buy an extra pair of 3D glasses, then that's another Rs.8,500 right there. However, this is not the only investment you’ll be making as you’ll have to cough up more cash for a 3D monitor as well, which is another Rs. 25,000 at least, so in total you’ll be spending close to Rs. 35,000 for the whole setup. You could choose an integrated solution like the Asus VG278H monitor, which comes with 3D glasses, but this will cost you close to Rs. 45,500.

Nvidia’s 3D Vision 2 is an incremental improvement over the earlier offering and is definitely a lot better than AMD’s HD3D. From what we’ve tested in the past, AMD’s solution is not quite up to the mark in terms of polish, primarily due to the fact that they still rely on a third party like TriDef for the drivers to render games in 3D. Nvidia’s solution therefore remains the best implementation of 3D for the PC platform till date, but it comes at a very steep price.

Publish date: August 11, 2012 5:05 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 11:37 pm

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