The Nvidia 3D Vision Kit brings a unique 3D video game experience to your computer and is available from Nvidia for $199. The visual effect it produces in games is a fun gimmick; however, in some cases the 3D effect is more distracting than entertaining. We wouldn't recommend the kit to hard-core gamers who value playability over anything else. However, casual gamers may want to try it, provided they can swallow the relatively high price. When it works, the kit's 3D effect is very convincing. For us though, it just didn't work consistently enough to justify its price or warrant a stronger recommendation.
Design, setup, and features
The Nvidia 3D Vision Kit comes with Nvidia's Stereoscopic 3D glasses, a pyramid-shaped IR emitter, two USB cables, a DVI-to-HDMI cable, a quick start guide, a VESA three-pin stereo cable, two extra nose pieces, storage pouch, cleaning cloth, software and drivers, and a demo disc.
The glasses look like normal sunglasses you'd find on someone who doesn't pay much attention to the latest fashion trends. They have a sort of '90s fashion look to them. The frame of the glasses is a glossy black that, like its lenses, retain fingerprints very easily. The glasses fit comfortably on an average-size head. With prescription glasses on, the 3D Vision glasses are slightly less comfortable as they put downward pressure on the nose. Nvidia includes three sizes of rubber nosepieces. Switching to a different nosepiece may alleviate some of the pressure.
On the right arm of the glasses, about midway between the lens and the tip, is a USB port used to charge them. On the top side of the left arm is a light-emitting diode and a power button. The LED indicates how much power is left in the glasses, it glows green when there's enough juice to function, red when the battery is running low, and clear with a dead battery. At full charge, the glasses should work for several hours of constant use and can be recharged by connecting them to a computer using the included USB cable.
The IR Emitter measures about 2 inches by 2 inches and is meant to be placed on or near your computer monitor. On the front of the emitter is the power button, illuminated by a backlit green LED. On the back is a USB port for connecting it to a computer and a VESA stereo input for connecting to DLP HDTVs.
The kit requires Windows Vista and either an Nvidia GeForce 8800, 9600, or later card, or a GeForce GTX 200 series card. Check out the full requirements here. You can also check here to determine if your setup is 3D ready. Right now, there are only two LCD computer monitors available that are compatible with the kit: the ViewSonic FuHzion VX2265wm and the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ.
The software setup wizard performs a few eye tests to determine if your hardware setup is compatible and that you have the correct drivers installed. After about 5 minutes--if you pass--you're good to go.
When playing a 3D Vision-compatible game with the glasses on, 2D screens take on a subtle perceived depth. For example, when playing Unreal Tournament 3, your map and menu items look as though they are stickers, stuck to the screen, and the rest of the graphics--characters, vehicles--look much farther away.
If you hold an object in the real world close enough to your eyes so that you get a double vision of the object, you can start to understand how this technology works. Increasing the depth via the slider on the back of the IR emitter simulates that same effect you get when holding that object close to your eyes. The glasses then simulate what happens when you alternate closing each eye while still looking at the close object. Basically, with one eye closed you no longer see double, but each eye gives you a different perspective on the object. Now, imagine alternating the closing and opening of each eye, very quickly. This is what the glasses do, they rapidly darkening each lens, alternating back and forth, to give your eyes the impression of one amalgamated perspective, producing the stereoscopic 3D effect, in theory.
We tested the Nvidia 3D Vision Kit on a PC with an Asus ENGeForce 9600GT and an EVGA GeForce GTX280 with following three games: Unreal Tournament 3, World of Warcraft, and Bioshock. Nvidia gauged how well each of these works with the 3D Vision kit as follows:
- UT3: Excellent
- WoW: Excellent
- Bioshock: Good