Toshiba is set for releasing their first autostereoscopic 3D laptops on the market in the second half of this month, the US version Toshiba Qosmio F755 is set to be available in mid-August for $1,699.99 USD and the European Toshiba Qosmio F750 model is expected by the end of the month in UK with expected price of about £1,300 Pounds. What is the most interesting in these two laptops is the fact that they feature an autostereoscopic 3D display (no special 3D glasses needed) and also use eye-tracking technology for improving the stereoscopic 3D experience. These are the first such laptops coming on the consumer market and LG Electronics is apparently the first company to announce and release a 3D LCD monitor with similar technology – autostereoscopic 3D screen with eye-tracking camera for improved experience and wider viewing angles in stereoscopic 3D mode. This is the 20-inch LG D2000 3D monitor that is currently only available in Korea under the model name LG DX2000 and is expected to be available later this year on other markets as well.
Toshiba is talking about “Active Lens” technology and also a “double parallax image display” for their 3D display which is apparently using switchable lenticular arrays of lenses and LG is talking about “glasses-free parallax barrier” technology for their 3D monitor which is apparently a switchable parallax barrier (although we may as well have the same technology on both). The common thing here is the ability to switch on and off the used technology for providing the stereo 3D effect on demand and thus have a display work in both 2D and 3D mode, depending on what content the user wants to watch (two states – disabled, meaning fully transparent with both eyes seeing the same image and enabled, meaning that each eye sees different image). This however is nothing new as both these technologies have been used a lot by different products for offering autostereoscopic 3D displays for different devices. These solutions however offer only a single or just a few viewing positions that the user needs to be located at in order to be able to see the stereo 3D effect, so in order to overcome this limitation a way to know the exact position of the user is needed. The simple solution for achieving that goal is to add in a camera that tracks the user head movement and more specifically his eyes (not the movement of the eyes, but the eyes themselves in order to track the position of the face)…
Based on the current position of the user’s face the display needs to be able to dynamically readjust the stereo 3D image on the display in order to ensure the best stereo 3D experience for the user watching and to provide seamless transition over a wider viewing angle and not just a few viewing position. Unfortunately neither Toshiba, not LG Electronics give a more detailed description on what and how this adjustment based on the user position is being done, so we’ll have to wait for some more detailed reviews. I still haven’t been able to see the Toshiba Qosmio F750 or F755 live in order to be able to share some feedback, but from what I’ve been reading so far pretty much everyone is complaining that it is not working perfect. There seems to be some delay not in the face tracking, but in readjusting the 3D image displayed on the screen (the left/right pair) and also from seeing more crosstalk, if you’ve been able to personally see it in action you are welcome to share your feedback or any extra information you may have. The clear disadvantage of using this autostereoscopic 3D technology with face-tracking is that you can only have the display optimized for use with just one person as the camera will track only one face, something that may be OK for a 3D-capable laptop, but not as much for a 3D monitor.
Toshiba’s Qosmio F750 and F755 will also feature 2D to 3D real-time conversion technology for movies on DVD Video and normal videos, unfortunately no support for conversion of normal Blu-ray movies to 3D is being offered. You can of course also play Blu-ray 3D movies thanks to the integrated Blu-ray optical drive and the bundled player, and not only on the laptop’s 3D display, but also on an external 3D HDTV for example by using the HDMI 1.4 video output of the laptop. Stereoscopic 3D gaming on the other hand is a bit unclear at the moment, both laptops will feature an Nvidia GeForce 540M graphics card, certainly not the most powerful one for mobile gaming, but not that bad either, the actual problem however lies elsewhere. Due to the fact that Nvidia’s 3D Vision technology is designed for use with active shutter glasses and 120Hz LCD monitors it may not yet be supported on this laptop, but there is talk for a while that such a support may be available later this year. On the other hand you get 3DTV Play support available right from the start should you want to use the laptop with a 3D HDTV.
Another thing that you may find interesting about these new 3D laptops from Toshiba is the fact that they may feature 120Hz LCD displays on top of the autostereoscopic 3D support, there was information about the F750 model that it is with a 120Hz LCD panel, but no mention of that in the official data available for the F755. Toshiba however promotes another 3D-related feature a lot as a first for their solution, the ability to have both 2D and stereo 3D images displayed on the screen at the same time and this is indeed something new for autostereoscopic displays. Usually you have the whole parallax barrier or lenses active all at once for full-screen 3D or have them all deactivated when in normal 2D mode, but with the new Toshiba 3D laptops you can apparently control them independently for different parts of the screen. Now, this may sound very cool – watching a 3D movie (or playing a game in stereo 3D mode) in a window while browsing the web in 2D or working on a document, however it will be harder on the eyes moving between the two and even more distracting doing two such things at the same time. So that extra feature in reality might turn out to be not that useful… the same way as using the face-tracking feature while traveling in a moving vehicle and the laptop shaking and trying to constantly readjust the 3D image on the screen. So for now I would not advice you to jump right into buying any of these laptops, no matter how attractive their features may sound, better wait a bit more after they get released and obtain more feedback from users and reviewers of the final products.