Software

Geek Gifts 2010: NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision Kit

The computer gaming industry has embraced 3D as a new and exciting way to experience games. Mark Kaelin explores the NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision Kit.

The mania for 3D has infiltrated just about every area of multi-media entertainment available. Not an industry to be outdone when it comes to novelties, the computer gaming industry has also embraced 3D as a new and exciting way to experience their games. One of the major efforts in this regard is the NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision Kit.

Specifications

Minimum system requirements:
  • Microsoft Windows Vista 32/64-bit or Windows 7 32/64-bit
  • Intel Core2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2 CPU or higher
  • 1GB of system memory (2GB is recommended)
  • 100MB free disk space
Requirements:
  • NVIDIA 3D Vision Kit
  • 3D Vision-Ready Display: there are less than a dozen so far
  • Compatible NVIDIA graphics card: GeForce 8800 or better
  • Windows Vista or Windows 7
Cost: about $200, available on Amazon

What I like

  • It works: That's right; I actually see what appears to be an enhanced 3D image when I use the 3D Vision glasses. And that 3D experience is persistent and consistent. This is the first system where I have actually been able to make that claim. The iZ3D monitor (Is there an iZ3D monitor in your gaming future, or are you just seeing double?) from a few years ago, for example, was completely different. With the iZ3D, I felt like my eyes were fighting with the images I was being presented. Not so with the 3D Vision system - the 3D was just there.
  • Easy to install: While there are numerous cables to contend with, the installation and setup of the Kit was surprisingly uneventful. You do have to remove the old drivers and replace them with 3D aware drivers, which will require a few reboots, but it is a minor annoyance a computer game playing geek would expect.
  • Automatic recognition: Once the drivers were installed, using the 3D Vision glasses was a breeze. Games recognized the additional piece of equipment and either presented a 3D image at the start or offered a 3D option as part of the visual configuration settings. NVIDIA has done a commendable job with the software - very user friendly.

What I don't like

  • Requirements: This is by far the biggest problem with the NVIDIA 3D Vision Kit - you need much more than just the glasses to get the 3D to work. You have to have the right video card and the right monitor. The NVIDIA Web site lists less than 12 Vision-Ready monitors. If you don't have one of the approved monitors these glasses will do you absolutely no good.
  • Comfort: The glasses are supposed to fit anyone and technically they do, but most will not find them what I would call comfortable. And, if you are like me, required to wear prescription glasses, you will have to wear the 3D Vision glasses over your normal glasses - which is very uncomfortable.
  • Why?: This is a matter of preferences, but I do not think the 3D effect adds anything useful to the gaming experience. It does not help with immersion and is, in fact, more of a hindrance than an enhancement. My extensive game playing experience has trained my brain to see 3D in my mind's eye. Imposing 3D into my eyes in an artificial attempt to circumvent my trained perception does not make the experience better - it just gives me a headache.

Bottom line for geeks

As far as 2010 goes, the geeky overhyped "thing" this year is 3D. Whether it is at the movies, on television, or on your computer screen, 3D is where it is at. I am certain that many 3D devices will be sold this year and that the NVIDIA 3D Vision Kit will get its fair share of sales, but I feel this 3D trend is a fad. The idea that 3D glasses etc enhance a visual experience is lost on me and with the hoops one has to jump through to get this kit to even work, I cannot recommend it. Perhaps in a few years we will truly see a time where 3D glasses are worth the trouble, but right now they just don't offer much value.

Geek Gift Score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ***
  • Geek factor: *****
  • Value: *
  • Overall: **

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2010.

About

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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