By now you should know that the first beta versions of the Release 260 drivers for Nvidia-based video cards did also include beta support for the 3DTV Play software and with the recent release of the first 260.89 WHQL drivers it is now out of beta. Of course in order to take advantage of the additional 3DTV Play functionality you need to already have the 3D Vision glasses kit with the IR transmitter plugged in in a free USB port on your PC (laptop or desktop). But today Nvidia has officially announced the 3DTV Play software as well as it’s future plans – how and with what it will be distributed, as well as when to expect the standalone release that will be sold to customers that do not own the 3D Vision kit.
What the 3DTV Play software does is to allow you to connect your computer to a 3D-capable HDTV by utilizing the HDMI 1.4 standard (and not yet the revised 1.4a version, but that is not an issue at all) and of course give you the opportunity to play 3D photos, 3D Videos and Movies and most of all play games in stereoscopic 3D mode on your big-screen television instead on a smaller 3D LCD monitor. Of course the software has some limitations, but they are implied by the HDMI 1.4 specifications fro stereo 3D content and the major one is the support for 1080p at 24 frames per eye and 720p at 50/60 fps per eye in stereo 3D mode. This is something that was built-in the stereo 3D specifications for the HDMI 1.4(a) standard as the 1080p resolution was meant for playing back 3D movies and for the gaming in stereo 3D you have to go for 720p (although you might play games in 1080p with 24 fps per eye too).
So the 3DTV Play software is available or going to be soon in three different ways:
1. As a free upgrade to the current owners of computers that also bought a 3D Vision kit and a 3D-capable monitor additionally for their computers, or who purchased a desktop or mobile computer with integrated 3D Vision support, because the 3DTV Play functionality is already built into the latest video drivers as I’ve already mentioned above.
2. Available with the purchase of a 3DTV Play PC, as the 3DTV Play software is going to be bundled on pre-configured PCs and notebooks that might not have a 3D-capable display, but can be used for 3D content if connected to a 3D-capable HDTV. For now these includes select Dell XPS notebook models, and home theater PC (HTPCs) models from ASRock and Zotac with more to come.
3. Available for purchase in mid to late November 2010 as a standalone product with a price of $39.99 USD. The 3DTV Play software will be available for sale next month at NVIDIA.com as an upgrade for existing PCs that include an NVIDIA GeForce GPU, but don’t yet have a 3D Vision kit and don’t want to purchase such as they are going to directly use a 3D HDTV as a 3D display.
As already mentioned, the Nvidia 3DTV Play software is going to be bundled with the new family of Dell XPS laptops announced today, which also includes high-performance NVIDIA GeForce 400M GPUs and battery-friendly NVIDIA Optimus technology. The new systems, which come in 14-, 15- and 17-inch screen sizes, provide a powerful multimedia system for consumers to enjoy their 3D content on 3D HDTVs.
“The new family of XPS systems provides the best sound and video ever offered in Dell laptops,” said Sam Burd, vice president, Dell Consumer & SMB Product Group. “And now with the addition of NVIDIA’s 3DTV Play software, we can bring the thrilling 3D experience to an entirely new market by enabling consumers to enjoy life-like, 3D entertainment in the comfort of their living rooms.”
So, if you’ve postponed the purchase of a 3D HDTV like I did, until an easy to use solution to allow you to connect you computer to a 3D-capable television set, then you can say the wait is over (if you already use 3D Vision on a computer monitor) or almost over if you don’t have the glasses and want to purchase the standalone version of the 3DTV Play software. As I’m in the first group, I’m yet again starting to check what offers for a 3D HDTVs are currently available, and while the availability of other 3D content is still lagging behind the PC games are going to be pretty much enough fro me for a while… ;)