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The Future of NVIDIA 3D Vision



On Wednesday, November 18, I had the opportunity to meet with NVIDIA’s Andrew Fear, Senior Project Manager for 3D Vision, to discuss the future of NVIDIA 3D Vision. For those of you that are unaware, 3D Vision is NVIDIA’s proprietary technology that provides a “fully immersive stereoscopic 3D experience” to your PC. While 3D Vision started out by providing full stereoscopic 3D to hundreds of PC games, as you’ll soon find out, NVIDIA is taking it to the next level, moving into the realms of movies and digital photography.

3D was all the rage at last year’s CES, and NVIDIA has been at the forefront of the 3D revolution. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) predicts 3D content will continue to grow and move to the mainstream, and NVIDIA is committed to this cause. As NVIDIA closes out the year and moves into 2010, it has one major goal; expanding the 3D Vision ecosystem.

One of the biggest recent announcements was the unveiling of the world’s first 3D Vision notebook. The Asus G51J-3D holds that honor. The G51J-3D features a GeForce GTX 260M, Intel Core i7 CPU, 6GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. Most importantly, it features a 120Hz, 15.6” display running natively at 1366x768, and is bundled with the NVIDIA 3D Vision kit. In today’s economy, price is a major factor, and rest assured, you won’t be disappointed. The 3D version of the G51J is expected to retail for only $200 more than its 2D, 60Hz display sibling. This means you’re essentially paying for the 3D Vision kit and getting a much better display for free, or vice versa, depending on how you want to look at it. And don’t think that the 120Hz display only provides benefits when using 3D Vision. The faster refresh rate coupled with vsync provides crisp motion thanks to reduced motion blur, high frame rates with ultra-low latency, and tear-free imaging, whether you’re using 3D Vision or not. When I inquired about battery life, I was told that there is no discernible difference in battery life between a 60Hz and 120Hz display, which is certainly good news.






Although the Asus G51J-3D and future notebooks are sure to please gamers, there’s something for photographers as well. Fujifilm unveiled the world’s first 3D digital consumer camera, the Finepix Real 3D W1. Although the camera itself does not include any NVIDIA component, NVIDIA partnered with Fujifilm to bring its MPO file format to the PC. Thanks to 3D Vision, you can now use imaging software on your PC to view the photos taken by the 3D W1 in true 3D. I got to see some pictures of a Santa Barbara boardwalk, and they were absolutely phenomenal. Although the pictures can only be viewed in NVIDIA’s program at this time, I was told that developers are hard at work trying to get support added to photo-editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop. In addition, development is underway on plugins for Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer, although the photo-sharing sites are curiously not onboard at this time.



Cinemaphiles will also be very happy with the future of 3D Vision. Acer just unveiled three 3D projectors. The X1130P runs at 800x600, the X1261 runs at 1024x768, and the X5360 runs at 1280x720, all supporting NVIDIA’s 3D Vision.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we see a 1080p version. But, even more important to movie lovers is the announcement of 3D Blu-ray. There’s not much that can be unveiled at this time, but we can tell you that the 3D-BD spec is currently under development and NVIDIA expects the spec to be released between now and Q1 2010, with content available some time in Q2 or Q3 2010. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be one of the few people to see 3D Blu-ray in action and I must say, I was very impressed. If you have seen any of the recent 3D movies in theaters over the past year, you know how far 3D has come in the past decade. No more blue-and-red glasses. No more throwing things out at you just for the sake of 3D. The 3D experience in movies nowadays is all about immersing you in the environment rather than simply showing off, and the only way to get that on your PC is via NVIDIA 3D Vision. Watching the 3D Blu-ray movie using NVIDIA 3D Vision was just like watching a 3D movie at the theater, just on a smaller scale, and with a flick of a switch, you can easily turn off the 3D if you so desire (though why you'd want to is beyond me, unless you just want to see how awesome the 3D is by comparing it to its 2D counterpart). The thing about 3D is, you can't exactly get a feel for it unless you see it for yourself, and that may be NVIDIA's biggest marketing obstacle. But what I can say is, if you go see a 3D movie in the theater, you'll get a pretty good idea of what to expect.



The last thing I can talk about at this time is some of the improvements and modifications in the works for 3D Vision. I already mentioned the browser plug-in support for the MPO format, but bringing 3D to the web doesn’t stop there. NVIDIA is also in the process of bringing 3D Vision to consumer applications, such as Google Earth, Bing Maps and Cooliris. On the gaming side of things, expect to see support for 3D gaming in a window in the near future. 3D gaming in a window will allow you to have multiple 3D windows open, or a mix of 3D and 2D windows. The World of Warcraft (WoW) player base is a huge market for NVIDIA’s 3D Vision, and many players prefer playing WoW in a window so that they can have chat, browse the web, and do other tasks, while playing.



As I think you can see, the future for NVIDIA 3D Vision seems to be a bright one. Gaming is definitely where this technology shines, but I think the key to 3D Vision moving into the mainstream will be the launch of 3D Blu-ray. As for other NVIDIA products, of course I couldn’t leave the meeting without inquiring about Fermi. Sadly, my attempts to squeeze more information out of Andrew and Bryan Del Rizzo, Senior PR Manager of Consumer Products, failed. To say they were tight-lipped would be an understatement, but they assured me that they’re still on schedule to deliver the first Fermi product in Q1. Expect some more developments at CES in January, alongside some more exciting news on the 3D Vision front.

Lastly, I’d just like to point out that if you currently own a 3D Vision kit, you may want to head on over to your favorite game demo download site and grab the latest demo for Avatar. Of course, you can grab the demo even if you don’t have 3D Vision, but you’ll obviously just have to live with 2D, which won’t seem like such a bad thing…until you see it using 3D Vision.

Thanks to Andrew and Bryan for meeting with me!

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