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Why There Are Still No Portable 3D-capable Laptops Available

March 9th, 2012 · 8 Comments · Other S3D Tech


If you are on the look for a mobile computer that has a 3D-caapble display you may find with a surprise that there are quite a few options available, but all of them are bigger in terms of size and are mostly targeted for multimedia and/or gaming use. There are however no small and compact laptops that offer a great mobility featuring a 3D-capable display and while there are multiple reasons for that, the more interesting question is why nobody is trying to offer such a product on the market. it is understandable that laptop manufacturers want to target the gamers with 3D-capable mobile products that have a lot of powerful hardware, but still most gamers would prefer to go for a really powerful desktop solution as quite a lot of these very powerful gaming laptops do not offer much a mobility. Of course providing a 3D-capable laptop with a screen size of about 10 to 13-inches could seem as even more niche segment than gaming in stereo 3D on a laptop, but there are people like me that prefer to use a portable mobile solution at work or on the go and it would be nice to also have 3D display on it. And then when you get home and want to play games in stereo 3D on a powerful desktop PC or enjoy a Blu-ray 3D movie with the whole family sitting in front of a big 3D HDTV.

Alienware for example has already demonstrated that you can get a prety decent GPU like the GeForce GT 540M in a compact laptop with their Alienware M11x, so why not have a similar solution that also features a 3D-capable display? Of course I’m not talking about getting a portable gaming laptop that could do stereo 3D games as that would require more GPU power, but even the 540M is quite capable for running not so demanding games in stereo 3D mode. Come on, where are those ultrabooks with a 3D display, nobody wants such a device instead of a 3D-capable tablet or a smartphone? I actually use a 12-inch non-3D capable laptop and need to carry a pair of standard paper anaglyph red-cyan 3D glasses in order to be able to do some quick previews in 3D of different things, so I’d love being able to do that on a similar size laptop with a proper 3D-capable display. Of course being a stereo 3D enthusiast means that I work with a lot of different stereoscopic 3D content every day and while the LG Optimus 3D is a nice help at times thanks to its autostereoscopic 3D display it is also not without limitations such as the lower resolution…

But what are the actual problems that you could face if you decide to make a portable laptop with a 3D-capable display? With portable laptops that have a smaller screen size of lets say up to 13-inches you cannot get an LCD panel with a very high resolution, you should go for either 1280×800 or 1366×768 and that is actually one of the major issues. If you go for autostereoscopic 3D display you will not need to wear glasses, but you will have a quite low resolution in stereo 3D mode and the price of the laptop could be quite high. Going for passive 3D solution would be more price attractive, but will require you to wear a pair of polarized glasses and besides the lower resolution you will be getting in 3D mode, you will have to often put on and remove the glasses when doing different things and switching between 2D and 3D mode on the laptop. I mean getting half horizontal or vertical resolution on the small size screen of a such laptop in stereo 3D mode won’t be very convenient, but still it will be useable for not so demanding users. Going for another option, an active 3D display capable of working at 120Hz (this could turn out to be a 2D gamers’ wet dream especially in a M11x like laptop), but that would be more expensive and you will again need 3D glasses, active ones for use in stereo 3D mode. With the active approach you will not be loosing any resolution in 3D mode, but you would still have to wear 3D glasses, you could however keep wearing the glasses even when switching between 2D and 3D mode, the only inconvenience here would be that you would have to carry the glasses always with you and keep them charged and ready to be used whenever you need them. But hey, is there anyone actually making a small 10 to 13-inch LCD panels for laptops that are 120Hz capable, I don’t think so, but there are already companies making 10-inch 1080p displays with 3D capabilities for tablets.

So are portable 3D-capable laptops just so niche that nobody want to get there, or laptop makers are afraid that they would be too hard and expensive to become interesting for potential customers, or… what do you think? Is it just a matter of inconvenience to make such products at the moment or the technology needed for achieving good portable size stereo 3D experience still needs some work. Would you go for a portable 3D-capable laptop if you had the products available on the market, of course nor for gaming in stereo 3D, but for lets say use for 3D video and movie watching or 3D photos – generally for multimedia use? Of course offering a good mobile experience – high performance, long battery life, good connectivity and maybe even not so bad graphical performance as well and with stereo 3D support just being a useful extra that you could take advantage of. Feel free to leave your comments below…

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