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Stereo 3D Video Playback on Acer Iconia Tab W700 Windows 8 Tablet

November 9th, 2012 · 1 Comment · Other S3D Tech

Cyberlink has recently announced full compatibility with the new Windows 8 OS in the latest update for their PowerDVD 12 software allowing you to playback Blu-ray 3D movies and stereoscopic 3D videos on systems using the new operating system. Cyberlink has also released PowerDVD Mobile for Windows 8, a software that is specially optimized for multimedia playback on tablets with Windows 8 (note it is Windows 8, not ARM-based tablets with Windows RT), offering similar tile-based interface like the one of the Windows 8 Start menu. I was however more interested in trying PowerDVD 12 on a Windows 8-based tablet and luckily I’ve had an Acer Iconia Tab W700 handy to test with. The Acer W700 tablet uses Mobile Intel HM77 Express chipset and comes with a 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3317U Processor and an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 along with a micro HDMI connector for use with external displays, making it a perfect combination for playing back 3D movies and videos. The hardware does offer support for Intel’s InTru 3D technology that is required in order to be able to output 3D content using HDMI 1.4 frame packaging for example to Blu-ray 3D movies on compatible 3D HDTVs or other 3D-capable displays.

Unlike on a computer used for work, desktop or laptop, where I really don’t like much the new Tile-based Start menu, a real productivity killer for me, on a tablet it is really handy. The Acer W700 tablet comes with a 1920×1080 resolution IPS LCD panel in an 11.6-inch display which is not a problem for the Start menu, but makes the standard Desktop and everything running there quite small and hard to use just with the touch panel (adding a wireless Bluetooth mouse is a kind of a solution). So the new PowerDVD Mobile for Windows 8 could actually be quite handy when you don’t need 3D support as it plays back not only video, but also music and photos. Using the standard PowerDVD menu is not a problem with the touchscreen display of the W700, however when playing back 3D videos you’d probably want to have a mouse handy due to the specific requirements in order to be able to make things work. You’ll have to select the external 3D HDTV in my case a Panasonic 3D Plasma to be the only monitor in order for PowerDVD to detect and activate properly the 3D support of the Intel GPU (not Clone or Extend Displays). So you end up with a working touchscreen on the tablet, but no image on the tablet and the image displayed on the bigger 3D HDTV, believe me it is not very easy to navigate this way, so a mouse is a must have. Other than that everything is working just fine, 3D videos play just fine and the 3D mode is automatically activated on the display. If you want to be able to play Blu-ray 3D movies you’ll need to either get an external Blu-ray device that uses USB interface (the tablet comes with USB 3.0 support) or to backup the Blu-ray 3D movie into an image file that you can transfer to the tablet.

I should warn you that not every tablet out there with Windows 8 will be able to play stereoscopic 3D video on an external 3D-capable display like the Acer Iconia Tab W700 is capable of. The reason for that is the fact that the more affordable tablets with Windows 8 do not come with Core i-series of processors, but instead use the relatively new Intel Atom Dual-Core Processor Z2760 that according to Intel has been designed especially for Windows 8 tablets. This Intel Atom processor doe not come with graphics supporting HDMI 1.4 or the InTru 3D technology, two things that are required for playing back 3D video on active 3D-capable displays – 3D HDTVs, 3D Projectors or 3D monitors. You could still be able to make this work with passive 3D HDTV though by using direct Row Interleaved output to the TV set instead of relying on HDMI 1.4’s frame packaging method. This however will still probably be a no-go option for Blu-ray 3D movies as the Atom processor will probably not be powerful enough to decode the 3D MVC streams in real time, though I still haven’t personally tried that, but it should work Ok with most 3D videos.

I’m also interested to see some ARM-based tablets running Windows RT, wondering how these will handle stereoscopic 3D content if they can. Actually I’m not sure if the RT version will have native stereoscopic 3D support like the Windows 8 does and Microsoft isn’t helping much in telling us clearly if it does or not. Not to mention the fact that Windows RT will have much less software available for it initially, but still it is interesting to see what Microsoft has come up with on that front as well.

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New GeForce Beta Driver 296.17 for Windows 8 Consumer Preview

March 13th, 2012 · 3 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

About two weeks ago Microsoft has made available the Windows 8 Consumer Preview for download, so that everyone interested can test the early preview version of the OS and now Nvidia has just released a full set of drivers for all of their GPUs. The just released GeForce Beta Driver 296.17 are available for both GeForce and Quadro GPU-based desktops and notebooks on Nvidia’s website as well as on Microsoft’s Windows Update. Windows 7, vista and Windows XP users aren’t left out either. An equivalent driver, version 296.10 (WHQL-certified) is also available from today with it and the Windows 8 version being a quick refresh in terms of features and support from the recently released version GeForce 295.73 drivers. The new GeForce version 296.10 drivers add 3D Vision support for the following games: Dear Esther – Rated Good and Deep Black: Reloaded – Rated 3D Vision Ready.

The new Nvidia Windows 8 video drivers support all the features of the new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) v1.2 and also support the 3D Vision and 3DTV Play products, allowing you to play more than 600 games, watch Blu-ray movies and view photos in 3D. With Windows 8’s new built-in stereoscopic 3D support in DirectX 11, 3D Vision is poised to provide users the best platform for games and applications according to Nvidia.

And now for some more details about what features are supports and what not in the new Windows 8 Consumer Preview drivers from Nvidia based on the information available form Nvidia:

What 3D Vision features are available right now on the Windows 8 Consumer Preview?
Currently all fullscreen 3D Vision and 3DTV Play functionality is available on Windows 8 Consumer Preview. This include games, 3D Vision Photo Viewer, 3D Vision Video Player, and Blu-ray 3D. 3DVisionLive.com and 3D Vision window mode support will be available at a later date.

I read that Windows 8 now natively supports stereoscopic 3D. What applications can I use to test that?
Please use the samples from MSDN to test Windows 8 native 3D support: Direct3D stereoscopic 3D sample

I noticed Microsoft now has a stereoscopic 3D option on their display properties control panel. How do I enable 3D Vision on Windows 8 Consumer Preview?
Please use the traditional NVIDIA Control Panel > Set up stereoscopic 3D options to enable 3D Vision and 3DTV Play.

What 3D Vision features are enabled on Windows 8 Metro user interface?
The current NVIDIA Windows 8 Consumer Preview drivers do not support these products. We are working on drivers to support these products later this year. The feature support will include 3D Vision Photo and Video Player applications and also 3D applications.

Is NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround supported on Windows 8 Consumer Preview with the current 3D Vision drivers?
Yes, 3D Vision Surround is fully supported with the latest drivers.

Are “Optimized for GeForce” products such as glasses free 3D notebooks and passive 3D monitors supported on Windows 8?
The current NVIDIA drivers for the Windows 8 Consumer Preview do not support these products. We are working on drivers to support these products later this year.

Are 3D Vision DLP HDTVs 3DTV Play supported in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview?
The current NVIDIA Windows 8 Consumer Preview drivers do not support these products. We are working on drivers to support these products later this year.

I do not see a checkbox for stereoscopic 3D in the Microsoft Control Panel. How do I enable it in Windows 8?
After a clean install of the NVIDIA drivers, please reboot the system and the checkbox should show up.

I updated to Windows 8 and I can no longer play Blu-ray 3D movies. How can I fix this?
Blu-ray 3D players – such as Cyberlink, Roxio, and ArcSoft – need to be updated to support Blu-ray 3D playback on Windows 8. Please consult your software manufacturer to ensure you are using a version that supports Windows 8.

You can download the latest Nvidia GeForce video drivers form here…

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About the Stereoscopic 3D Support in the Upcoming Windows 8 OS

October 12th, 2011 · No Comments · Other S3D Tech

You’ve probably stumbled on different news regarding Microsoft’s upcoming operating system, currently know under the name Windows 8, that also mention stereoscopic 3D support as one of the new features in it. This is certainly a good news for the whole stereo 3D community, but you should be aware of what exactly does Microsoft mean by adding Stereoscopic 3D support in their new operating system as it is not exactly what everyone had hoped for. Nevertheless since Microsoft recognizes the need of implementing stereoscopic 3D support as a feature in their new operating system it should sooner or later develop in a full-blown standard for generating and displaying visual information properly on 3D-capable displays. And in the upcoming Windows 8 OS it will kind of happen with DirectX 11.1 and new video driver architecture WDDM 1.2, although is it just marking the start for what is yet to come, as initially the stereoscopic 3D support will be somewhat limited to recognizing a 3D-capable display and outputting 3D content to it (with the help of the video drivers). This however is something that AMD, Intel and Nvidia already support in their current video drivers, but each of them uses their own implementation and this means that the application code required to add support for 3D with all of them gets more complex and needs more time to be made. So the developer of a stereoscopic 3D capable application or a game would be able to more easily implement stereoscopic 3D support in Windows 8, and saving time and costs associated with programming can actually help in the faster adoption of stereoscopic 3D support…

According to Microsoft:

Windows 8 provides the ideal platform for further innovations for partners to deliver a solid media experience. Windows 8 enables a rich graphical composition model that allows for more flexibility to support video playback and stereoscopic 3D scenarios. Windows 8 will provide a consistent API and DDI platform for Stereoscopic 3D scenarios such as gaming and video playback.

Stereoscopic 3D will be enabled only on systems that have all the components that are stereoscopic 3D capable. These include 3D-capable display hardware, graphics hardware, peripherals, and software applications. The Stereo design in the graphics stack is such that the particular visualization or display technology used is agnostic to the operating system. The Graphics driver talks to the Display and has knowledge about the display capabilities through the standardized EDID structure. The driver will enumerate Stereo capabilities only when it recognizes such a display connected to the system.

According to Microsoft the stereo 3D functionality can be enabled only on DirectX 10-capable hardware and higher, but that should not mean that if your video card is DX10-capable you will not be able to play games in stereo 3D mode if they use DX9. The improvements for stereoscopic 3D video content playback relates to the new D3D11 API for Stereoscopic 3D video that unpacks stereo frames into left- and right-eye images, that is if your video player application uses D3D11 API calls for the playback of 3D video.

So what does the stereoscopic 3D support for Windows 8 mean? It means that if you have a game with native stereoscopic 3D support you should be able to easily make the output compatible with different 3D solutions by using the S3D support in the OS (no matter what is the video card in your system) and not by talking to each of the video drivers in a specific way depending on what your video card is. If your game does not support stereo 3D in its engine, then you’d still have to use an additional software to convert it in stereo 3D format such as 3D Vision or iZ3D or TriDef 3D that are already available. These solutions of course would need to be updated to support the new stereoscopic 3D features when Windows 8 becomes available, but it will also make it easier for their developers to implement generic stereo 3D output if they decide to rely on the new features and not continue to use their workaround solutions. So the situation in terms of stereo 3D support wouldn’t actually change that much with just the release of Windows 8, but as I’ve already said it is a step in the right direction.

For more information on what the new Windows Display Driver Model will bring…
A Direct3D 11.1 Simple Stereo 3D application code in C++ utilizing the new features…

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