Is the glasses-free 3D laptop ready for prime time?

Thanks to updated Nvidia drivers, 3D games now work on the autostereoscopic Toshiba Qosmio F755.

Stereoscopic 3D in televisions, PCs, and game consoles has alternatively hailed as an industry savior and blasted as overhyped and undercooked. But no matter which side of the 3D debate you fall on, everyone agrees that bulky active shutter 3D glasses are a major impediment to widespread adoption.

That's why we were so interested in the idea of an autostereoscopic laptop (which basically means glasses-free 3D). Using the laptop's built-in Webcam and eye-tracking software, a laptop can, in theory, keep the 3D image in sync by tracking the viewer's eye movements. We first saw this demonstrated at CES 2011 in a Toshiba 15-inch prototype, which was released as the Qosmio F755 in the summer of 2011 (and similar technology is making its way into televisions as well).

That first system was an interesting proof of concept, but was too finicky to be of much practical use. Its software was spotty and slow, and only 3D Blu-ray movies were supported -- no video games.

The 2012 update to the Qosmio F755 fares a good deal better. Its 3D Blu-ray player app felt snappier, the optimal viewing angles are still very narrow, but discs of 3D movies such as "Avatar" and "Tron: Legacy" presented themselves well.

Even more exciting, thanks to new Nvidia drivers, games now work in 3D, to a point. While nearly every PC game I tried worked in 3D, the lower-end Nvidia GeForce 540 GPU prevented most games from having playable framerates in 3D (performance was much smoother with the 3D effect turned off).

That's a real shame, as an autostereoscopic 3D gaming laptop could be a fun splurge for gamers. Other than this model, we've seen a grand total of zero new autostereoscopic laptops, so it's safe to say this is not a subcategory that's growing. Too bad, as it's just a few tweaks (and some better components) away from being really impressive.

Read the full review of the Toshiba Qosmio F755-3D here.

 

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