3D now conquering gaming laptops too

Sunday, October 3, 2010

BERLIN - Right in the thick of it: It’s a feeling craved by more than just movie fans watching the latest 3D flick. Gamers joined the ranks of 3D adventurers some time ago. The new wrinkle is that the 3D action can now be enjoyed on the go, using laptops instead of a home PC.

There still aren’t many manufacturers outfitting their laptops with 3D screens and compatible graphics cards. Yet the range of offerings is growing every day. The fact that the technology is still in its infancy hasn’t scared away hardcore gamers. That’s because the thrill of stereoscopy, as the technology is called, is a big one.

“The technology works astoundingly well for games,” says Thomas Rau from Germany’s PC Welt magazine. The reason: Games already contain special depth information that can be used for 3D depictions. “There are no fundamental differences between 3D games and older ones,” Rau explains.

For this reason, the trip into the third dimension doesn’t necessarily require games programmed specifically for that purpose. The “3D Vision Ready” label seen on some games only means that menus and film sequences between the interactive play are also 3D.

For spatial depictions to work on a laptop, the display must have an image refresh rate of 120 hertz and a special graphics card. Special glasses are also needed for the 3D effect to be visible, using either shutter or polarisation technology. All of this makes 3D laptops relatively expensive. Rau pegs the added costs for 3D functionality at around $200 to $500 when compared with other comparably equipped laptops. Prices for a 3D laptop start at around $800.

Acer will be bringing its third generation of 3D laptops onto the market this autumn. The devices dubbed Aspire 5738DG include a 15.6 inch, 120 Hertz display and work with shutter glasses. The manufacturer’s previous series used polarisation technology.

The Aspire 5745DG configuration with an Intel Core i5 processor and Nvidia Geforce GT425M graphics card will cost around $1,000. Moving images from an optional Blu-Ray drive can be transmitted to a television using a HDMI port. Asus, Toshiba and MSI

all have comparable laptops coming in their future.

Sony is planning a 3D laptop for spring 2011. It will use the same 3D technology as the Bravia line of TVs, says spokeswoman Silke Bernhardt. A Full HD display will be included. Communication with the shutter glasses will be run via an infrared transmitter, built into the display frame.

Autostereoscopic displays - displays that do not require accessories like glasses - have yet to hit the market. One problem with shutter glasses is that they darken the image. A recent test of TV devices by German computer magazine c’t found that the glasses significantly lower the brightness of the display.

Filed under: Science and Technology

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