3D Vision Blog

A normal user's look into the world of 3D Stereo Technologies

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How to Choose a Laptop That Will Have Stereoscopic 3D Support

August 19th, 2012 · 9 Comments · Other S3D Tech

The laptops with built-in 3D-capable displays on the market are still not that many, and most of the systems that do have 3D displays are high-end and targeted at gamers and that actually makes sense considering the extra price you have to pay for the 3D display. Active 3D technology seems to be the most popular among these solutions, though there are a few solutions offering autostereoscopic 3D displays and in the lower end price segment there are multiple options with passive 3D displays. And while it definitely sounds nice to have a laptop with a 3D-capable display, most people actually get a normal laptop with a 2D screen and at some point of time decide that they want to connect it to a 3D monitor, 3D projector or a 3D HDTV that they already own. And usually this is where the problems start along with the questions why it does not work. That is why I’ll give you some useful advice on what to look for in a laptop if you plan to using it in stereoscopic 3D mode with an external 3D display of some kind at some point in time and you want to make sure that you are going to be able to.

I’ll be starting with active 3D displays that are capable of supporting 1080p resolution at 120Hz or 60Hz 3D mode at Full HD resolution as these are the most demanding ones. Usually for such a monitor you will need a Dual-Link DVI port and these are rarely seen available on laptops nowadays, you may be lucky to find such on a bigger and more powerful multimedia or gaming laptops only or on an external docking station for mobile workstations or business class laptops. Alternative solution would be to look for a DisplayPort connector that also has enough bandwidth to output 3D at high resolution and refresh rate (if you have a 3D-capable monitor with DP support) or if you add in an active DP to Dual-Link DVI adapter.

If you are going to be connecting a passive 3D monitor or 3D HDTV to your laptop things are much easier as these solutions can accept the stereo 3D image in a single 1080p frame at 60Hz, so the bandwidth requirements are no different than a standard 2D image. The drawback of using this technology and the Row Interleaved method is that you essentially loose half of the vertical resolution of the image when in 3D mode. But the good thing is that you can at least use pretty much any interface that can output 1080p 60Hz for sending the 3D image to the 3D display and since HDMI is nowadays so common that pretty much any laptop has it you’ll be covered for that.

Next up are 3D HDTVs and some Full HD 3D projectors using HDMI 1.4 interface for stereoscopic 3D support. This is a standard interface and you may be able to use a lot of laptops that have HDMI output to connect to such 3D HDTVs and feed them with 3D content, you just need to make sure that the laptop has a GPU capable of supporting HDMI 1.4 frame packaging 3D output as not all do. Due to the currently more limited bandwidth capabilities of the HDMI chips used in 3D HDTVs you are essentially limited to using 1080p 24Hz 3D mode for movies and 720p 50/60Hz 3D mode for gaming, and there is no support for 120Hz in 2D mode. The good news is that people with passive 3D HDTVs can skip the HDMI 1.4 frame packaging 3D support and the limitation for the lower refresh rate at 1080p and instead go for Row Interleaved output for 1080p 60Hz 3D mode, but with half vertical resolution, so there is still some trade off, but this is an extra option that owners of active 3D HDTVs to not have.

Moving on to 3D DLP projectors, most of these use frame sequential input, so they still need high refresh rates, however due to the fact that there aren’t that many Full HD models (these tend to use HDMI 1.4) and most consumer models are up to 720p resolution, so you should be fine connecting these to a laptop. The 3D DLP projectors either have a VGA or an HDMI connector, the two most commonly available interfaces on laptops at the moment, and for both the 120Hz refresh rate is not a problem at the lower resolution that the devices use.

Ok, so far I’ve talked about the interfaces and the requirements and limitations about connecting different 3D-capable displays to a laptop, but this is just the start of things as the next step is much more important in order to be able to actually output stereo 3D content to the display and not just be able to connect it. It is not only important what video outputs you have available on your laptop, but also what graphics processor they are connected to, because you’ll have to find a software that needs to be able to work with them properly for the stereoscopic 3D output. And since we have three major makers of GPUs (AMD, Intel and Nvidia) things can get a bit complicated here, especially depending on what kind of stereoscopic 3D use you need with your laptop.

Switching graphics is your enemy number one for stereo 3D use on a laptop, no matter what kind of manual or automatic switching between an integrated Intel and discrete AMD or Nvidia graphics you have this thing may prevent you from properly using the right software for outputting stereoscopic 3D content from your laptop. For example the Nvidia Optimus technology is a nice and useful feature that can extend your battery life when you don’t need to use the more powerful discrete graphics chip, but it also prevents you from using 3D vision, “Optimized for GeForce” or the 3DTV Play software solutions for outputting 3D content to a compatible 3D display. So try to stay away from such technologies if stereoscopic 3D support from your laptop is important for you, though if it is only for playing 3D movies on your 3D HDTV for example you may still have an option available.

Even if you have a laptop with integrated Intel GPU and a discrete graphics chip that uses some sort of switching between the two graphics processors, and thus you are unable to use the discrete chip for stereo 3D, you might still be able to get the integrated one to work. And while Intel’s GPUs integrated in their processors are not powerful enough for stereoscopic 3D gaming, they do support HDMI 1.4 and have enough performance for stereoscopic 3D photos and 3D movie playback, including Blu-ray 3D. That is if you happen to have a compatible chipset and processor that can support HDMI 1.4 and stereoscopic 3D output. What you’d need to have is at least a second generation Intel Core processor (Sandy Bridge or the newer Ivy Bridge platform) in order to have support for Intel’s InTRU 3D technology, and this means Intel Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 CPU, Pentium processors won’t do as they don’t feature InTRU 3D support. All of the major software Blu-ray 3D players do have support for Intel’s stereo 3D implementation, so the software side is well covered.

Ok, so we now know which Intel integrated GPUs do support stereo 3D, but what about the supported AMD and Nvidia graphics processors used in mobile computers. Both companies have stereo 3D support for a wide range of their more recent graphics processors, though Nvidia’s support covers way more older generations than AMD’s. Looking at the official list of compatible mobile Nvidia GPUs you can see that everything from the GeForce 200M series up until now with the 600M series is compatible with the company’s stereo 3D technologies, however even the older GeForce 8000M and 9000M mobile series should also work. But you should be careful with for the presence of a GPU switching technology as even though a GPU might be compatible with stereo 3D, that technology may be preventing it from properly providing 3D support. Currently AMD only lists their latest Radeon 6000M series of GPUs as compatible, but their previous 5000M series also supports AMD’s HD3D technology and you might be able to even get some stereo 3D support on older GPU generations even though they do not provide support the AMD HD3D technology.

I hope that this short guide can help you when choosing a new laptop for stereo 3D use or you want to see if your old one might be able to work in stereo 3D mode together with an external stereoscopic 3D-capable display. Feel fee to ask any other questions that you may have in the comments below…

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LG Xnote A530 is a New 3D-capable Notebook With a 3D Camera

August 24th, 2011 · 1 Comment · General 3D News

LG has launched in Korea what seems to be their first 3D-capable laptop, the LG Xnote A530, and the laptop is expected to be also available in Europe, the Middle East and Africa later this month followed by other markets soon after (no work on North American availability yet). LG A530 is a 15.6-inch laptop that uses the company’s Film Patterned Retarder (FPR) technology for providing a 3D display capabilities in the device and this is essentially a passive 3D display that requires you to wear a pair of passive polarized glasses to see the 3D effect. So far nothing we haven’t seen from other companies, however LG is going a step further by adding a built-in 3D webcamera as well that consists of essentially two normal 2D webcams that seem to be about 2 centimeters apart (less than an inch). Having a 3D webcamera on your laptop may seem like a cool idea at first, but it is something that is still not very usable as most video conversation software solutions still don’t support 3D video. So maybe you can be stuck at using it only for anaglyph 3D mode if supported, as this can also be easy for the person sitting on the other side to see you in 3D if he does not have a dedicated 3D-capable display. Although there is yet again integration with YouTube’s 3D support, so you will be easily able to upload 3D videos of you record with the 3D webcam, another thing that does not seem way too practical like having a 3D camera on a smartphone for example.

It is also interesting to note that on the official pres photo from LG there is the LG 3D Space software displayed, something that you may be familiar with if you’ve seen the company’s LG Optimus 3D smartphone, so this 3D interface should be giving you similar features to that found on the 3D phone. The 3D video and photo playback, as well as the ability to play games in stereoscopic 3D mode are apparently provided by DDD’s TriDef 3D software which LG also uses for their other passive 3D displays. There also seems to be a Blu-ray 3D video player and something that makes me a bit curious, a 3D Presentation mode that uses unknown for the moment software. The 15.6-inch display is apparently with Full HD 1920×1080 resolution that turns to half vertical (1920×540) per eye of that when you activate the 3D mode due to the way all of the passive 3D displays work. The LG A530 is using a second-generation Intel Core i7 processors, comes with up to 8GB of system memory, GeForce GT 555M graphics card that should be quite Ok for most not so demanding games even in stereo 3D mode (not fast enough to call this a high-end gaming laptop), a built-in solid-state drive (SSD) together with a traditional HDD drive, integrated fingerprint reader, SRS Wide 3D Sound system, USB 3.0 support, and the 3D webcam already mentioned. We’ll have to wait a bit more and see the first reviews when the laptop comes out in order to have a better understanding of the performance and extra features it will be offering in stereo 3D mode as the currently available information for the upcoming LG A530 laptop is not very detailed.

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HP ENVY 17 3D a 3D-capable Multimedia Laptop by the End of the Year

September 1st, 2010 · 5 Comments · Other S3D Tech

It is now official as HP has announced their plans to release the HP ENVY 17 3D, a 3D-capable multimedia laptop for the holiday season this year. There were a lot of rumors going on about HP getting a 3D-capable laptop since quite a lot of time, at first for a professional solution, but now we actually get a quite powerful consumer laptop. And if we are lucky enough we may also see the HP 2310g 120Hz LCD monitor too, as apparently HP is finally ready to also jump on the 3D wave.

It is interesting to note the fact that the HP ENVY 17 3D is actually the first 17-inch notebook to support 1080p 3D, meaning Full HD 120Hz screen for gaming and Blu-ray 3D movie playback apparently. But more interesting is the fact that the laptop is based on an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850 graphics card and that means no Nvidia 3D Vision, but an alternative solution also based on active shutter glasses. So that can either be some HP solution developed on their own, or more likely the AMD/ATI stereoscopic 3D solution that we’ve been waiting to see for quite some time now. The powerful video card should be backed by a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, so there should be no problems in using this laptop not only for watching multimedia content in 3D, but also playing games in stereo 3D mode.

Also as a part of HP’s ongoing partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA), select models of the HP ENVY 17 3D will include some 3D action from the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. Additionally a 3D movie trailer for the upcoming animated film “MEGAMIND” from DreamWorks Animation will be included, which is certainly Ok, but definitely we could use some more 3D video content.

The HP ENVY 17 3D is expected to be available this holiday season with pricing yet to be determined, but considering that the currently available non-3D version of the HP ENVY 17 with similar parameters starts at $1,399.99 USD, the standard configuration of the 3D version of the laptop will most likely be in the range of $1600-$1800 USD.

To visit the official website for the upcoming HP ENVY 17 3D laptop…

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