If you already have a computer with 3D Vision-ready monitor and 3D Vision shutter glasses and are considering to get a 3D HDTV you may want to reconsider and get a TV Tuner that will bring additional 3D functionality, turning your PC into a 3D HDTV alternative. I’m talking about the AVerMedia AVer3D CaptureHD Hybrid TV Tuner that supports Analog and DVB-T broadcasts with built-in 2D to 3D conversion as well as the ability to display 3D content on compatible hardware. Furthermore this 3D TV Tuner can capture up to 1080i over Component and HDMI interface, so you can connect a Set-Top-Box that outputs 3D programming as well. You can say that pretty much the only thing that is missing is 1080p and HDMI 1.4 support, but if you already have a monitor like the Acer HN274H you would be able to connect devices using the frame packaging 3D format directly to the monitor. But even if you don’t have a 3D Vision system, you can still use the tuner’s 3D functionality with a passive 3D display or even with a normal one using the free pair of plastic red-cyan anaglyph glasses bundled with the TV Tuner.
The AVer3D CaptureHD TV Tuner uses PCI Express slot (not the older PCI), so make sure you have one available on your motherboard. If you look at the back of the tuner you may notice two HDMI connectors, but make no mistake only one of them is an actual HDMI input, the other one is just shaped like HDMI, but is used for connecting an extra cable for all the analog inputs that the card supports for capturing. As I’ve already mentioned the HDMI capture supports up to 720p or 1080i maximum resolution and you cannot record HDCP protected content, the component capture is also limited to 1080i resolution, the rest are lower resolution inputs. The card itself is half-height and although the standard bracket is for a full-height expansion card, there is a half-height bracket also included that you can use if you are building an HTPC with the AVer3D CaptureHD.
Moving to the software bundled with the tuner, it is called AVer MediaCenter 3D and is not just for using the tuner’s capabilities, but also allows you to play videos, photos and music you already have stored on your computer. Unfortunately no support for stereo 3D or 2D to 3D conversion of those is yet available. The 3D input playback and the 2D to 3D real-time conversion are only supported for the Analog and DVB-T TV, as well as the different inputs that the card supports. The latest version of the software that you can download from the manufacturer’s website is a bit strange, as every time you try to activate a 3D function it gives a warning that it is only supported for the TV functionality, but after that it activates for the video input you are getting captured as well.
The AVer MediaCenter 3D supports 2D, anaglyph red-cyan, micro-polarized 3D and 3D Vision as outputs for the content using the 3D functionality of the software (either being received in 3D or autoconverted in 3D). It only works with Side by Side or Top-Bottom input, so you get no HDMI 1.4 and frame packaged content. You can also tweak a bit the strength of the 2D to 3D autoconversion functionality and apparently that conversion is optimized for TV broadcasts as it is a bit strange in terms of realization, but it works quite well anyway.
With the AVer3D CaptureHD TV Tuner you can for example connect your Xbox 360 console and play games that support 3D output natively by using the Side by Side or Over/Under outputs from the console, but you cannot connect the PS3 and use it in 3D as it uses HDMI 1.4 frame packaging for outputting the stereo 3D content and this product does not work with such input. There is a little bit of extra input lag introduced when you play games through the capture functionality and if you display also adds a bit more you may get annoyed by the delay, so be careful with that. The 2D to 3D functionality can also be used for consoles or other devices connected to the capture ports of the TV Tuner, but have in mind that in order for it to work well you should have good quality and higher resolution if possible. Regarding analogue and DVB-T programs in 2D that you want to watch autoconverted in 3D, make sure you have good quality image as otherwise the converted image might not look that good.