Vincent Chang's Blog

Vincent Chang male Former Senior Tech Writer

Vincent has written enough about tech to know that he doesn't know enough about tech. But that's not keeping him from going jargon-heavy about processors and mobos. After all, "you can't stop the signal".

More Onboard the 3D Bandwagon

At this year's E3, Nintendo's Wii finally got some competition from Microsoft and Sony in the motion controls department, but while MS' Kinect and Sony's Move entered the gaming lingo, Nintendo seems to have moved on to another front - stereoscopic 3D.

The company unveiled the Nintendo 3DS as the successor to its wildly popular NDS console, keeping to the familiar dual-screen design. However, the top screen is now able to display stereoscopic 3D images without requiring 3D glasses. Such autostereoscopic displays have been around for a while, but the current state of the technology still suffers from issues like a limited viewing angle, which have made them impractical for use in 3D TVs.

Handheld game consoles like the 3DS however would presumably be more suited for autostereoscopic displays since it's usually intended for an audience of one. While it remains to be seen how 3D games will fare in the final product, that's not all to it. Consumers can take 3D images with two front-facing cameras on the 3DS. A slider on the device allows users to both tweak the amount of 3D in their games and the 3D effect in their 3D images.

While Nintendo is merely starting on its 3D effort, Sony is building up a complete 3D eco-system, which arguably encompasses its entire range of electronics. From the 3D TVs shown at CES to 3D Alpha cameras at Computex, the PlayStation 3 now gets 3D support after a firmware upgrade. Sony showed off some of these 3D games, like Killzone 3 and Gran Turismo 5. For those who already have the necessary hardware, there are a couple of demos and even two full games available for free download from PSN.

The fact that the 3D functionality, including 3D Blu-ray playback to follow later this year, is 'free' on the PlayStation 3 is a bonus, but of course, you'll need to get a compatible 3D TV, and no doubt, Sony will be hoping to sell you one of its 3D BRAVIA HDTVs.

So the takeaway message: those that have derided 3D as a fad will have to wait just a bit longer to see this bandwagon crash and burn, or even if it does.

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In my opinion - 3D will always have its place, more so in the gaming scene. The bigger question is, if it will be adopted by advertisers and mass content producers for the 3D goggle box.

On one hand, you'll need content to drive this 3D paradigm and on the other hand, content makers are still wondering if it's the right time to jump into it even if the hype is present. Content distributors also can't assume one has a 3D TV and will still have to pipe standard broadcasts - similar to the need of analog and digital broadcasts until unless there's enough people on the bandwagon to assume it's time to unplug the old content. So meanwhile, there has to be a way to allow users to view the same channel with and without 3D, presumably by the TV 'talking' with the set-top box on its mode of operation. This is probably too ideal of a state and more likely than not, separate channels for 3D and non-3D content - which could be a hassle on its own too.

Then there's the effectiveness of 3D. If it's so omnipresent in the near future, it will lose it's special appeal - more so when most TV/movie content don't yet wow the viewer but only provide subtle elements of depth. It's unlike those early 3D visuals where content in 3D was made to really go out of the way to grab your attention - such as a batsman hitting the baseball in your direction and you could swear it was about to knock you.

Last but not least - you still have those dreaded glasses that are perhaps the biggest issue for the average Joe, but probably not for the enthusiastic gamer.

So gaming going the 3D path way may not yet impact the mainstream content - yet.


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