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 Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

12 comments
bkeifer
bkeifer

I have been using 3D shutter glasses on my PC for around ten years now. They have definitely improved in that time, and I have enjoyed many games in 3D. I now own the nVidia 3D Vision glasses, and am using them with a 60" DLP TV. I have to say that the 3D effect is amazing. I can view stereoscopic photos and video clips (movies aren't far off now), as well as play all of my favorite games in 3D. The games do not need to be specifically designed for 3D viewing, as most games nowadays are 3D by nature and the nVidia driver takes care of the rest. I have never suffered from headaches, or eye strain but I do know of people who have. I personally find it hard to play a game without the 3D, after having played it with 3D. It is so much more immersive.

john barker
john barker

will never work out till we can do live 3d i mean like a football game project on you floor in 3d like in real life that how 3d will work if you can find out how to do it ?

dryd
dryd

It may be just me, cause I've been awake too long, so do you think you could rephrase that last bit for me please John? So anyway, what I got from the article is that 3D definitly does not enhance a game that wasn't specifically written as a 3D game. The question then remains, how much better, if any, would a game written specifically for 3D, be?

Slayer_
Slayer_

Was playing Armored Princess last night, I decided to turn on 3D mode and put on the 3D glasses I jacked from the Avatar movie in theaters, and it worked fine. My monitor is an old 20inch CRT from 1998.

D Walker
D Walker

I do not understand how you got 3D the way described. I am familiar with using 3D shutter glasses (Sega Master System did this a long time ago, just not so well on the 13" TV I had then). Shutter glasses will work with any decent display. What I do not understand is how wearing basicly polarized sunglasses with one side turned 90 degrees would work on a non-3d display? I suspect the 3D mode was the regular 2D simulation of 3D most game have that do not require glasses or was it the colored glasses type 3D? Was Avatar shown in the old colored glasses mode in some theaters? (Reminds me, need to get out that old 3D game, if it still works, to see how it looks on a 32" HD CRT.)

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Did 3D make the game better?

Slayer_
Slayer_

Made it a bit harder to play honestly, clicking your mouse in a more 3D world. Plus wearing the glasses, when you already require glasses, is a pain.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Since you need nothing more than a pair of 1 dollar 3D glasses. Armored princess is a DirectX9 game, so they can't even claim anything there, its an older game, running on an ancient monitor, with glasses taken from a movie theatre that I thought looked stylish.

mr_m_sween
mr_m_sween

I chose to have a year of eye therapy instead of glasses, so that must be it.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Just a theory, but if you wear normal glasses, you are used to the world having different depth.

mr_m_sween
mr_m_sween

Am I the only one who gets wicked headaches if I'm looking through 3d glasses for more than 10 minutes at a stretch?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I have said many times that I do not like 3D glasses, but I will admit that the NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision glasses actually work, which is a new experience. Have we really entered into an era of 3D gaming or is this all just a fad to see more LCDs?

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