eMagin Z800 3DVisior is over 4 years old, but still remains as one of the most technologically advanced consumer HMD (Head Mounted Display) with Stereoscopic 3D support, although if you want to use the device in S3D mode with up to date hardware you’ll be disappointed. As with most similar products released prior 2006 this one also relied too much on Nvidia’s Stereoscopic 3D Drivers the support for which was dropped quite some time ago. So if you want to use the Z800 with a GeForce 8xx0 series or newer Nvidia video card or with ATI-based hardware you’ll have to rely on other software as Nvidia Stereo Drivers has support only for GeForce 7xx0 or older GPUs. Otherwise you’ll only be able to use the HMD as a secondary display with resolution of 800×600 pixels, that is providing you with a very good image quality as it is actually using OLED-based displays. Currently eMagin Z800 3DVisior is being officially sold for $1500 (it was cheaper before), but you can also find some pretty good deals from time to time on eBay that are worth taking advantage of if you are interested in the device.
One recent ray of hope was the Iz3D drivers and the use of their Shutter Mode as I’ve already described here with the help of i-O Display i-glasses PC/SVGA 3D HMD (the procedure is the same for Z800). There is however one requirement in order for your eMagin Z800 3DVisior to be able to work with Iz3D’s Drivers and there is one drawback that is still making the Stereoscopic 3D mode that you can achieve with it not very usable. The requirement is to have firmware version at least 6.38 available in your Z800 HMD and this means that if you were one of the early adopters you are out of luck, or actually not completely out of luck. eMagin is selling firmware upgrade kits which require you to replace the old EPROM chip with the firmware with a new one that you’ll receive, thus making your product compatible. The latest firmware available as an upgrade kit is version 6.40, but anything from 6.38 or above should be Ok. But now we reach to the issue you are going to face when using the Z800 with Iz3D and that is the loose of the synchronization for the left and right eye (Z800 uses frame sequential mode) and thus dropping out of S3D mode. This happens quite often because of the application framerate drops below the refresh rate set to be used on the HMD (minimum 60Hz) and that does happen even on top end video cards with not very heavy 3D applications. It seems that Iz3D is working on improving this and providing an actually usable 3D mode for the owners of eMagin Z800, but so far (I’ve just tested the 1.10 final driver) it is still not happening and the Shutter mode is still in a beta stage. We all hope that in the next version, most likely 2.0 this issue will be fixed and we’ll be able to use the Z800 in stereoscopic 3D mode after quite a long time not being able to take advantage of its S3D features.