3D Vision Blog

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

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What Has Happened to The 3D Smartphones and 3D Tablets

October 4th, 2013 · 10 Comments · Other S3D Tech


The mobile devices markets are booming as more and more people are switching to smartphones and start using tablets in their everyday life, but what has happened with 3D smartphones and 3D tablets? If the mobile devices market is growing a lot constantly and quite fast why we are not also seeing new mobile devices with stereoscopic 3D capabilities. A good question indeed, it is not that some companies haven’t tried introducing 3D-capable mobile devices, it was probably a bit early for them in terms of technological capabilities, but that does not mean we should not be getting new products available as the technology advances. So why it is not happening when we are seeing announcements of newer and faster mobile processors and mobile graphics with more and more cores, higher resolution displays and better cameras all the time?

In 2011 LG introduced their first 3D-capable smartphone LG Optimus 3D P920 (also known as LG Thrill 4G in some markets) and HTC did a similar thing with their HTC EVO 3D smartphone with both devices featuring autostereoscopic 3D displays (glasses-free), dual cameras for 3D photo and video capture and 3D output over HDMI to an external 3D-capable display. LG even introduced at a bit later time a software to render normal non-stereo 3D Android-based games into stereoscopic 3D ones (apparently powered by DDD’s TriDef 3D software for mobile devices). The next year LG announced another 3D-capable smartphone called c P720 as a successor for the Optimus 3D device, though it was not that much improved over the older model and after that they stopped with 3D support. These three smartphones are pretty much the only globally available mobile devices of this type with stereoscopic 3D capabilities, though there are some other 3D-capable smartphones being released only in certain countries such as Japan, South Korea, China or India.

On the 3D tablet market there is pretty much only one name – Gadmei, a Chinese company that became very popular thanks to their affordable 3D tablet with an autostereoscopic 3D display in 2011 and 2012. Being one of the first and offering affordable device it has quickly become widespread, and now there are even a few very similar models available with 3D capabilities from Gadmei. Not to mention that the company has also made OEM versions with different brand names. The problem with these devices is that their glasses-free 3D displays are not that good offering limited number of viewing points and the resolution of the displays isn’t that high especially for 3D use. Furthermore no 3D cameras and ability to play games in stereoscopic 3D mode, so they were mostly good for previewing 3D photos or watching 3D movies. This year the NEO3D tablet became a reality after a successful crowdfunding campaign, though this is essentially rebranded Gadmei 3D tablet that comes with a few extras intended for the American market even though they ship it worldwide. And while the NEO3D tablet is more appealing for the North American customers due to the local warranty and support along with some extras such as TriDef 3D mobile application for transforming Android games in stereo 3D mode the overall 3D experience is pretty much the same. In 2011 LG also tried to go on the 3D tablet market, but with a half finished product and by half finished I mean a device that had for example a dual cameras for 3D capture, but was not equipped with an autostereoscopic 3D-capable display and instead supported anaglyph 3D mode so you had to use red-cyan 3D glasses. And the worst thing you could do with a 3D capable smartphone or tablet is to want the user to use 3D glasses in order to be able take advantage of the 3D capabilities of his device. Another interesting thing in terms of 3D support on tablets is what Nvidia did with the release of their Tegra 3 chipset – porting their 3D Vision technology to tablets powered by Tegra 3 and thus alowing some games to be rendered in stereoscopic 3D mode. The catch here was that there was no tablets with Tegra 3 released with an autostereoscopic 3D display, but you could connect the tablet to a 3D-capable 3D HDTV or a 3D monitor with HDMI 1.4 3D support and play the game on the larger display in 3D. Unfortunately not all Tagra 3 powered tablets supported that feature and other devices such the Ouya game console or the Wikipad gaming tablet (powered by Tegra 3) did not come with 3D support as well. And with the announcement of the newer Tegra 4 that mostly improves the graphical performance over the previous generation Nvidia hasn’t even talked about stereo 3D support and the first devices such as the Project SHIELD or the first Tegra 4-powered tablets are apparently not going to even support external stereo 3D output. And in the last year or so not only the stereo 3D supporting games for Android ad Tegra did not increase, but actually they have decreased to 14 from 16 according to Nvidia’s Tegra Zone website.

So what do we need to have a successful 3D-capable tablet or a smartphone? First a good autostereoscopic 3D display that will allow the user not to loose the 3D effect while moving the tablet like for example when playing a game that uses motion of the device to be controlled. Of course the glasses-free 3D display has to come with higher resolution and pixel density in order for the image in 3D to look good enough even with the reduced resolution in stereo 3D mode. Furthermore the 3D display should be useable in stereo 3D mode inn both portrait and landscape mode and not be limited to just landscape orientation because of the parallax barrier used to achieve the 3D effect. Well, you can say that we have pretty much covered all of these already which reminds me for example of MasterImage 3D’s Cell-Matrix Parallax Barrier technology that looked great when it was announced and though already quite some time has passed it still is nowhere to be found. Or at least almost nowhere to be found with just one 3D-capable smartphone using it that got released only on the market in India earlier this year – the Micromax Canvas 3D A115 smartphone with 5.0-inch display with just 480×800 resolution and that is far from great for stereoscopic 3D use if you ask me.

Looking around for new and interesting mobile devices that are supposed to be available this year on the market one device caught my attention – the Hampoo 3D tablet that is supposed to be on the market by the end of this year. Hampoo is another Chinese manufacturer that is making a 10.1-inch tablet with 1920×1200 resolution autostereoscopic 3D display and more up to date specifications compared to the hardware you can find in the Gadmei 3D tablets. Apparently the company is already shipping volume orders of their Hampoo 3D tablet, but I’m still unable to find the device anywhere available for sale to end users. In the end the things on the mobile 3D-capable devices market seem even worse that what is currently happening on the PC market in terms of solutions for stereoscopic 3D including, but not limited to gaming. And the 3D content available for mobile 3D-capable devices is even more problematic than that available for 3D-capable computers, and that is just another problem ahead of the 3D-capable smartphones and 3D tablets. Unlike with computers, where you can do with a 3D display that requires the viewer to wear glasses in order to be able to see the 3D effect, with mobile devices that is not an option so an autostereoscopic 3D display ad a good one at that is a must have feature. And while the glasses-free 3D displays need some improvement and thus the technology sill needs to catch up, we are also seeing a lot of alternatives in the form of various adapters that will turn your non-3D smartphone into a 3D-capable device. Most recent and interesting of which are the EyeFly 3D and the vrAse, both of which are looking very promising and you might want to keep an eye on and try them if able to and have a compatible device. Have in mind that vrAse is still not released and is still an ongoing project on Kickstarter even though their goal for funding has been reached already, you can still support the project and get a unit earlier.

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Playing with Tegra 3-powered Tablets in Stereoscopic 3D Mode

July 5th, 2012 · 10 Comments · Other S3D Tech

Back in March I’ve posted some information on how you can play games in stereoscopic 3D mode on an Android-based tablet using the Nividia Tegra 3 platform with the help of an external 3D HDTV, 3D projector or a 3D monitor supporting HDMI 1.4 input. Recently I’ve had the chance to try out the new Asus Transformer Pad TF300 tablet with Tegra 3 for a bit and I’ve used the opportunity to do some stereoscopic 3D testing with it on a Panasonic 3D HDTV as well as on a passive 3D monitor from LG. The Transformer Pad tablet comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS and an additional dock station/keyboard which makes it a great alternative to a netbook for example. In order to use the stereoscopic 3D capabilities of the Tegra 3 inside you’d need to get an extra micro-HDMI to HDMI cable as such is not included in the accessories by default, then you need to just plug the tablet to the 3D display and enable the stereoscopic 3D functionality.

To enable the stereoscopic 3D functionality of the platform you need to go to the Settings menu of the tablet, and under System / HDMI to put a tick on “Enable 3D” and you are ready to go. Now you just need to run a compatible game that supports stereoscopic 3D output or play some stereo 3D content on the device and you’ll be able to see it in stereoscopic 3D format on the external 3D display device you’ve connected to the tablet.

In the Settings of the tablet here is an option to “Adjust game’s 3D depth” in the settings of the tablet that works pretty much like the depth slider you get with 3D Vision on PC. But you’d probably want to use the slider you have available in the quick settings menu (called from the lower right corner of screen) to be able to adjust the game’s depth level on the fly while playing it.

With the help of an external stereoscopic 3D-capable display on devices such as the Asus TF300 that are powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 you should be able to play games in stereo 3D mode, and also view 3D videos and 3D photos. Now the situation with the games is such that only some titles optimized for Tegra 3 will be playable in stereoscopic 3D mode, you can find the list of these on the official Tegra Zone website. In March when I last wrote about stereo 3D support on Tegra 3 the number of these games was 16 and unfortunately now, almost 4 months later that number has not increased, but even with 16 games it is quite Ok as you have a choice. The situation with 3D video playback out of the box was also Ok, you can just play a stereo 3D video in Side by Side and have it displayed on the external 3D display in stereoscopic 3D mode. For example the DEUS EX HOMINE short 3D moco time-lapse video still looks impressive even when played back trough a Tegra 3 powered tablet. With stereo 3D photos out of the box however I’ve had some trouble, the tablet was not properly playing neither JPS, nor MPO 3D photos in stereoscopic 3D format, it was showing them as Side by Side photos in 2D. So more testing is apparently required and I’m going to put that in my to do list – more stereoscopic 3D testing with Terga 3 tablets…

I’ve already mentioned that the stereoscopic 3D support found on the Tegra 3-powered Android-based tablets is similar to 3D Vision on PC and the same can pretty much be said about the level of quality of the stereoscopic 3D conversion of the supported games. Apparently there are profiles for the supported games with preset convergence and you can only control the depth level, also you are not able to kind of force the stereoscopic 3D rendering on games that are not officially supported. The stereoscopic 3D output in games does look very nice, for example in Shadowgun that is on the photos above, but there are still some minor issues that you can notice. Again things that you’d be familiar with if you’ve used 3D Vision on PC, like for example the 2D crosshair that is available in Shadowgun when running the game in stereo 3D mode. But these are all minor issues that most of the not so experienced with streo 3D users may not even notice. I’ve also tried paying Samurai II: Vengeance and Riptide GP and they also looked very nice in stereoscopic 3D mode with no serious issues in the stereo 3D rendering on the external 3D display…

So if you already happen to have a Nvidia Tegra 3 powered tablet or a smartphone for that matter I’d recommend you to try out the stereoscopic 3D output of the device with an external 3D display supporting HDMI 1.4 frame packaged 3D input. What I’m already waiting for is the next step – a Tegra 3-powered tablet with an autostereoscopic 3D display built-in, so you will not need to use an external 3D-capable display to use the 3D features. Hopefully the wait for such a tablet won’t be very long as there is one such already in the works and it is called Wikipad with the release date for the device currently set for some time in the end of the 3rd Quarter of this year, so maybe just around the corner already.

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Using Tegra 3 Devices for Stereo 3D Output on External 3D Displays

March 10th, 2012 · 4 Comments · Other S3D Tech

Lately Nvidia has been talking a lot about their new Tegra 3 platform and during MWC 2012 together with their partners they were demonstrating a lot of new products based on it that should soon be coming on the market. Meanwhile the only Tegra 3-based tablet that is already on the market – Asus Transformer Prime is getting a lot of attention, but one of the features of the latest Tegra platform, also supported on the Transformer Prime, is kind of overlooked. While there is still no Tegra-based tablet or smartphone with a built-in stereoscopic 3D display, you are able to actually use these devices with a 3D-capable monitor or a 3D HDTV in 3D mode. The Tegra 3 platform officially supports stereoscopic 3D output over the HDMI 1.4 interface, so if you connect it to an external 3D-capable display you can actually use a device such as the Transformer Prime to play 3D videos, watch 3D photos and of course play games in stereoscopic 3D format…

Actually the most interesting part is that the Tegra 3 uses a very similar technology like 3D Vision on PC to enable the stereoscopic 3D rendering of some games. Thanks to the increased performance of the Tegra 3 you are able to automatically, and in real-time, convert some OpenGL based games and apps into stereo 3D and play them on a big 3D-capable display. And the nice thing is that you also have an easy access to controlling the level of depth on a Tegra 3-based device similar to the way that the depth slider works on the 3D Vision.

Here is what you need to do to activate the 3D mode on a Tegra 3-based device:

– Connect your Tegra 3 mobile device to a 3D-capable monitor to 3D HDTV with HDMI 1.4 support.
– Look for Tegra Zone games that support the “3D Stereoscopic” feature, you can easily spot them on the Tegra Zone app or at Tegra Zone web site, use the “3D Stereoscopic” category filter.
– Start the game, the game will automatically be rendered in stereoscopic 3D mode on the 3D-capable external display as the screen of the Asus Transformer Prime or another new compatible tablet or smartphone based on Tegra 3.
– To adjust the 3D depth in game, pull up the quick settings menu (from the lower right corner of screen) and adjust the 3D depth slider left/right to decrease or increase the level of depth you are getting.

Currently there are 16 game titles optimized for Tegra that are supporting the real-time stereoscopic 3D conversion if you connect your compatible Tegra 3 device to a 3D-capable display and thanks to the ability to also use a console game controller together with your tablet you can get something that is quite close to a 3D-capable console. And thanks to the hardware accelerated video decoding and playback features one Tegra 3-based tablet could easily become a portable stereo 3D video player that would allow you to play 3D HD video clips on your big screen 3D HDTV for example. The last thing would of course need some work to make things work the way you want them to, but since there are still not a lot of options available for portable HD video players supporting stereo 3D video playback it is definitely something to dig a bit into. So maybe I should consider getting a Tegra 3-based Transformer Prime tablet to play a bit with and test and experiment with its 3D-capabilities. If you already own one of these devices and have tried the stereo 3D capabilities together with an external stereo 3D display feel free to share your feedback below…

For a list of all the Tegra-optimized games that support stereoscopic 3D rendering…

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