We’ve gone this far into a 3D content week without any mud-slinging (at least, not our part) but the more we talked to display makers the more hints and suggestions became apparent that all is not rosey in the world of 3D. ViewSonic referred to ‘a “Wild West” metaphor with 3D technologies at the moment’ while Posen Wang of BenQ just told us that ‘it will be good to have more unified on the 3D standard’ before adding ‘we are happy to join Nvidia’s campaign which helps us easier to communicate with end users and [involves] less effort to promote the product.’
That latter comment could easily be seen as a criticism of AMD’s HD3D technology, which can be confusing to implement. You have to use software from DDD or iZ3D but beyond that you can use almost anything you want, from a passive system to one that uses shutter glasses tethered to the screen and synchronised via hardware. Those that like some choice in their setup will likely lambast Nvidia’s more dictatorial Vision technology, though this does support red-green lens glasses as well as 3D Vision-branded screens and shutter glasses.
We think they're amused, but it's hard to tell with kids these days, isn't it?
We asked Acer whether it saw 3D support as a main selling feature of a screen, and were told that ‘ high performing gaming is a key selling point and we have had success in selling our dual-link 3D displays together with our gaming PCs.’ This focus will continue, though we were told that ‘we also have polarized 3D solutions offering better value to the wider audience via HDMI 1.4a’
Sascha Guenther of Dell was lukewarm on using 3D as a main selling point, however, claiming that ‘3D is becoming increasingly popular but it is not the only important attribute of a monitor or projector… We are committed to 3D and will continue to support it. We don’t favour any particular technology or company.’
Eizo’s Rob Mussom was happy to let his customers lead the way in terms of 3D support ‘I see 3D as an application that needs a particular screen technology similar to others such as wide gamut displays for re-touching, or displays for medical diagnostics etc. So in my view it’s a new application that needs a specific monitor not a new market.’
It was ViewSonic that threw us a googly when asked about how it used 3D to promote its screens, however. ‘ALWAYS [their caps] our products have to be equally if not better in displaying 2D. No one will want a 100 per cent 3D device, so we spend a lot of time creating products that are able to do both… just about all of our range is 3D ready by default, but the main justification for sales is a 2D requirement.’ Asked whether ViewSonic saw more value in AMD’s or Nvidia’s 3D technology we were told ‘it is hard for a single standard to evolve, but we hope convergence will occur and ViewSonic have tried to be part of this. This is why we make all our product 2D & 3D, to ensure that users are protected.’
ViewSonic has a few 3D screens, and was one of the first manufacturers to launch one.
Even more interestingly, Acer elaborated on its earlier points that 3D was a key selling point for gaming screens by adding and that it’s focused on ‘serving the high-end segment’ by adding ‘Performance is more tailored towards 3D movies and imaging as opposed to high performance gaming.’
When talking about projectors, Acer also deploys DLP 3D technology ‘to reach a complete segment of customers, from education to corporate to end users. We have launched recently a new projector, H5360BD, the first projector equipped with HDMI 1.4a that support the HDMI 3D solution both from DLP and Nvidia. What's more, is equipped with Nvidia 3D TV software Play software kit to transform hundreds of PC games into immersive stereoscopic 3D fun!’
While 3D gaming technology seems important to Acer, it’s also keen to talk about movies and more passive entertainment as key uses of 3D. Equally, ViewSonic is more concerned about a high-quality 2D image at a given price-point than delivering a 3D experience that’s superior to the 2D one. There’s also a note of frustration regarding the ‘Wild West’ situation of conflicting 3D standards on the PC. Even the more enthusiastic Dell, with its Alienware gaming division, makes hints that having two 3D standards for the PC is problematic.
If 3D gaming is ever going to take off, it’s the likes of Dell, ViewSonic and Acer that Nvidia and AMD have to woo. The idea that somehow AMD and Nvidia will agree on a common 3D standard is pie in the sky though, so the 3D format squabble will continue, in much the same way as the Blu-ray and HD-DVD war did. We’ll also add that 3D gaming will only gain significant traction when non-TN panels start to appear - we’ll keep out eyes peeled for the VA-based BenQ that’s due out late this year.