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.
Vincent Chang / 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".
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