We mentionedearlier, and now we get to take a look at Nvidia's solution with the announcement of its GeForce 3D Vision. Unlike AMD, which is merely a beneficiary of iZ3D offering ATI Radeon customers a deal on drivers for its specialized 3D LCDs, Nvidia's stereo 3D hardware is homegrown, and it's also one of the few products that Nvidia itself is distributing to retail.
For $199, GeForce 3D Vision gets you a set of battery-powered, wireless glasses, as well as an infrared emitter that acts as a go-between for your computer and either a 120Hz PC LCD or a DLP HD television. Where iZ3D's glasses are passive, Nvidia's are active, which is to say they require power to perform the appropriate image processing.
The results of Nvidia's GeForce 3D Vision are impressive. We've sat through press demos with both Nvidia and iZ3D. iZ3D's were fine, but we got to see more games during Nvidia's demo, so we have a bit more experience with GeForce 3D Vision. The visual effect is more than simply cheap Hollywood-style 3D flash. In Left 4 Dead, we had the sense of a much more immersive depth of field than you get from standard 3D games on a 2D display. Nvidia also gives you a dial on the emitter to increase the perception of depth. Adjusting it can be jarring, especially at very high settings, but we liked having the option, and we're not aware of a similar feature on the iZ3D displays.
Despite its active glasses, Nvidia's take on stereoscopic 3D also relies on specialized LCDs, in this case those with a 120Hz refresh rate over dual-link DVI. Samsung and Viewsonic will be offering such displays soon, although initial reports have listed prices at $479 for the 22-inch model. Prices will drop as 120Hz LCDs become less exotic, but that's still about $679 worth of hardware to enjoy Nvidia's 3D tech, compared with only $399 for the display and glasses from iZ3D.
Traditionally, stereoscopic 3D has been scoffed at due to clunky hardware, lackluster game support, and a headache-inducing flicker effect. We haven't sat down for a good gaming all-nighter to see if either vendor has eliminated the headaches, but the vastly enhanced visual effects of the games and movies we've seen over the last month with stereo 3D make us think that the technology might finally be ready for consumer success. And you can scoff at the glasses all you like, but, as Nvidia suggested to us when we scoffed ourselves, if you're willing to jump around your living room with a plastic guitar in your hands, are 3D gaming glasses really all that bad?