Hands-on with the Asus 3D laptop

Earlier this week, Asus unveiled a 15-inch laptop with Nvidia's 3D Vision technology built in. We've just had a chance to take the $1,699 Asus G51J 3D for a test drive, and came away largely impressed with the results.

Scott playing Left 4 Dead 2 on the Asus 3D laptop. Dan Ackerman/CNET

Earlier this week, Asus unveiled a 15-inch laptop with Nvidia's 3D Vision technology built in . The $1,699 Asus G51J 3D has a 120Hz LCD panel, an Intel Core i7 CPU, and a high-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M GPU, and comes bundled with a pair of Nvidia's active glasses and the USB-powered IR emitter required to make the glasses work.

We've just had a chance to take the system for a test drive, and came away largely impressed with the results, especially compared with Acer's Aspire 5738DG, a 3D laptop that uses a pair of passive polarized glasses and a special screen coating to create a 3D effect.

That Acer model was unfortunately underpowered for gaming, especially with the added overhead of running its 3D software in the background. The Asus G51J, on the other hand, with a high-end processor and video card, seemed well-suited for mid-to-high-end gaming. Of course, it lacked dual SLI video cards and the 1,366x768 15-inch display is no match for some of the nicer 17-inch 1080p displays we've seen.

The Asus G51J with Nvidia's 3D glasses and IR emitter. Dan Ackerman/CNET

While playing Left 4 Dead 2, the 3D effects appeared crisp and appealing, and didn't seem to distract from the speed of gameplay or the screen brightness. There appeared to be no real hardware burden in generating the 3D in terms of frame rate or graphics detail, either. On the other hand, the 15-inch screen is a little small as compared to a nice big gaming monitor, and that mitigated the overall immersion of the 3D effects.

The bigger problem is that 3D gaming is still a novelty . It's not actually needed to appreciate any game at this point, and it has an expensive and often clunky set-up for users to navigate through.

Many people haven't even seen 3D of the caliber that Nvidia is currently offering, and so they have no idea how smooth and crisp it is compared to the fuzzy double-vision experience of years past. What's particularly great about Asus' solution is that it's already integrated into a reasonably priced Core i7 gaming laptop, so the set-up and research into compatible hardware components is almost entirely eliminated.

This is an interesting trend to watch for in gaming laptops, and it should be included in more Core i7 laptops aimed at gamers, especially if Nvidia is serious about getting a larger adoption. We expect to see more 3D Vision capable laptops from major PC makers by early next year.

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