Gaming with Nvidia 3D Vision

The history of advertisements for 3D movies is an embarrassing testament to how silly people look in 3D glasses. A typical example shows a slack jawed audience while a poorly rendered Tyrannosaurus breaks free from its two dimensional cage, terrifying the crowd with its jaws wide open, ready to bite everyone’s head off. Welcome to the third dimension, bitches. We hope you were wearing diapers.

Above: An image that ran with a press release from IMAX about how much money they made by partnering with Warner Bros. in 2008 

But 3D technology isn’t going the way of the dinosaur anytime soon. 3D films have crept back into the mainstream - and according to our own David Houghton, 3D gaming might be the next hot standard since high definition televisions and Blu-ray.

But what about the cost? Will it work with your games? What about the eyestrain? How silly will we look? And most importantly, is it worth it? From what we’ve seen, the Nvidia 3D Vision kit is the most highly reviewed and popular 3D solution for gaming to date, boasting an impressive list of supported titles. So we decided to check out the best-of-the-best, and find out how good 3D gaming really is.

Above: Nvidia’s 3D Vision slick shades are a far cry from its kitschy cardboard predecessors of yesteryear. But is it worth it? 

How it works

The 3D Vision kit uses stereoscopic 3D technology. It creates the illusion of depth by splitting each screenshot you see into two slightly different images and delivering each one to the appropriate eye. It’s sort of like playing a practical joke on your brain by tricking it into thinking that you’re seeing two separate images as one.

Above: This is an example of an image meant for your left eye 

Above: This is the image for your right eye 

Above: Without the glasses, both images overlap and looks something like this 

Each lens in the wireless glasses included in the 3D Vision kit is actually a tiny LCD screen. When your monitor tosses you a frame from the game you’re playing, one lens lets the image through to one eye, and the other darkens to filter it out. When the next frame appears, the amount of voltage running to the LCD lens changes so that the corresponding image is now delivered to your other eye. How fast does this happen? About 60 times per second. The amount of voltage running through the glasses is synched to your monitor’s refresh rate, and happens so quickly that your eyes can’t detect the transition.

What’s in the box

- Wireless glasses
- IR emitter
- DVI-to-HDMI cable
- Two USB cables
- VESA 3-pin Stereo Cable
- Interchangeable nosepieces
- A cleaning pouch and cloth for your fancy new glasses
Total cost: $199

The wireless glasses and IR emitter

The wireless glasses are surprisingly comfortable and fit snugly over a pair of prescription glasses. When fully charged, it can last for approximately 40 hours. It also has a sleep mode and shuts itself down when not in use to conserve battery power. After gaming on and off for a few hours at a time over a few weeks, we didn’t have to recharge our glasses once. Plus, it’s not terribly uncomfortable to wear the glasses with the USB cord plugged in to let it charge as you play.

We were also concerned about eyestrain. When you first load up a game, expect to feel a bit of strain as your eyes adjust. Text and menus can be a difficult to read, and sometimes you can see a hint of the second image overlapping with the first, creating a ghosting effect. But once you adjust the depth via the handy scroll wheel on the back of the IR emitter and the distance between you and your monitor, gaming with your 3D glasses on feels quite comfortable. In fact, we experienced very little eyestrain during two-to-three hour gaming sessions. It’s when you take the glasses off that you’ll feel a little disoriented, kind of like when the lights come on after you’ve been watching a movie at the theater.

Above: The extra nosepieces are appreciated. But for the hefty price tag, you’d think they’d include a nice case for your 3D glasses 

Above: Next up: what it’s like to play games… in 3D! 

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  • arturus1000 - June 5, 2010 9:13 a.m.

    I have 3D vision. I bought a monitor and 3Dvision kit combo for £340 from scan.
  • ChainsawHero - October 27, 2009 3:40 a.m.

    i've tried it before, it's actually cool playing RE5 on it
  • Smeggs - October 27, 2009 2:10 a.m.

    Hmm...Well lets see, one minute I could have a Hunter Lunging at my face and the next I could be blinded by Tits and Ass AND dismembered demons while playing a Ninja Gaidden game? Once this doesn't cost over $100+ than the 360 is right now I might buy it.
  • GamesRadarTylerNagata - October 26, 2009 8:37 p.m.

    Hertz (Hz) is a unit of measurement that has to do with the refresh rate on your monitor or television. Make sure that your new TV has 120 Hz refresh rate. Also, some TVs say they are 120 Hz, but only accepts 60 Hz content. If you google your TV's model name and a visit to the NVIDIA 3D Vision page, that should help you confirm if your television is compatible.
  • Cwf2008 - October 26, 2009 2:28 a.m.

    Jon Stewart on page 1 ftw
  • super0sonic - October 25, 2009 6:12 a.m.

    I would just like to say there are some computer stores here that have these set up. It really must be seen and played to be beleaved! But as cool as it would be to have I just can't Justify the cost.
  • Wizrai - October 25, 2009 2:02 a.m.

    Wait, so you don't get all dizzy with these?
  • lovinmyps3 - October 24, 2009 8:15 a.m.

    That's a funny pic of Chris. XD
  • mcoll_17 - October 24, 2009 5:13 a.m.

    @Ronny The PS3 are testing the 3d in some of their games. Hopefully it releases soon. I actually own the setup for Nvidia 3d and never regret in getting this. Also, GR should also play Pure on the PC, it's amazing.
  • earsauce - October 24, 2009 4:36 a.m.

    Personally, I don't want my gaming to be in 3-D. I think it's kind of a cool idea, but I'd rather just play the game normally.
  • smallberry - October 24, 2009 3:44 a.m.

    The biggest problem in getting this is finding a proper 120hz refresh rate monitor here in India. Once I find that I'll be all over the 3D glasses.
  • RonnyLive19881 - October 24, 2009 2:44 a.m.

    Sooo... is this PC only? I would buy this today if I could play Bioshock or Mario Galaxy in true 3d! I want this for my TV right now!
  • SilverHammer - October 24, 2009 12:57 a.m.

    Haha. Half Baked.
  • SilverHammer - October 24, 2009 12:56 a.m.

    Haha. Half Baked.
  • TestDDs - October 24, 2009 12:29 a.m.

    cool now i can play fable and have a 3d middle finger sticking out of the screen i love the future
  • Spybreak8 - October 24, 2009 12:10 a.m.

    HD TVs were like 3 grand when they came out, this will catch on once its under 100 bucks though. I love the John Stewart pic. I could imagine RE5 with 3D or Left 4 Dead, oh god that would be awesome indeed. Let's hope that Sony and Microsoft intend to use a graphics card for their next console so users can just pick up 3D glasses and be set (hmm never mind the TV is a real factor as well).
  • NotBraze - October 23, 2009 11:19 p.m.

    This is really cool but unfortunately I'm a console gamer and my computer is a Mac (I love my Mac dearly but it's definitely the step-headed red-child of the gaming world). If they ever released a 3D system for the 360 I'd jump at the opportunity to buy it. Having games at home look as beautiful as Pixar's Up did in the theater? I think that's the closest thing we'll experience to heaven on earth (or hell, depending on the game).
  • michaelmcc827 - October 23, 2009 10:52 p.m.

    ack! too bad there's no way to see a video. very jealous though...
  • ClusterShart - October 23, 2009 8:04 p.m.

    I will be building a rig soon, and now I am considering this.
  • Cyberninja - October 23, 2009 8:03 p.m.

    i dont think 3d gaming will pick up until the stuff is easiser to afford