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Subjective Tests: Does Blu-ray 3D Live Up To The Hype?

Blu-ray 3D On The PC: The Tom's Hardware Review

Unfortunately, we can't effectively take a screenshot and allow you to experience what it's like to watch a Blu-ray 3D movie on a 120 Hz alternate-frame-sequential monitor. What we can do is share the opinions and experiences of a number of test subjects. We recruited a group of volunteers to try it out by watching the entire full-length feature film, Monsters vs Aliens 3D. Reporting their comments might be the best way to impart a sense of what Blu-ray 3D is like on the PC. As the author, I'm going to begin by describing my experience.

Don Woligroski
Age: 36
Occupation: Hardware Editor

I'm not a typical test subject because 3D technology isn't new to me. I've been paying attention to and sometimes reviewing the available options for years.

Up until this point, the best 3D experience I've had was either in the theater or when playing games on a passively polarized projector system. I think that movies like UP and Avatar show well in a 3D theater and the brightness is phenomenal. Unfortunately, the crosstalk and ghosting artifacts are sometimes distracting, but I've never found them to be show-stoppers.

The worst 3D experiences I've had were years ago with the eDimensional 3D glasses at 60 Hz refresh rates and half resolution. The strobing effect was obvious and disorienting, and could certainly cause headaches. It worked a little better when paired with the first-generation Nvidia stereoscopic 3D drivers to work at higher refresh rates and full resolution; 85 Hz provided an acceptable solution for the day, but the result was far from ideal. Because of this experience, I've remained leery of alternate-frame sequencing and LCD shutter glasses.

To my surprise, I found that Nvidia's execution of 3D Vision, using the 120 Hz LCD alternate-frame sequencing method, provided a very smooth playback experience. I will even go as far as to say that it's the clearest, cleanest 3D movie experience I have had thus far. The 3D effect did seem superior to the experience that movie theaters offer. On top of this, I found that Nvidia's 3D Vision glasses were comfortable, even when worn on top of my prescription glasses.

However, 3D Vision is not perfect. The biggest drawback is that a lot of light is lost through the LCD shutter glasses. There were a few times during Monsters vs Aliens 3D when the screen was so dark that it was distracting. That is not to say that the brightness issue negates the usability of a 120 Hz alternate-frame sequential display, but it is by far the most obvious weakness of this format.

A secondary issue that surprised me when watching the film was that crosstalk and ghosting made occasional appearances. The problem was minimal (far less than polarized setups), but the artifacts did pop up here and there, specifically on very bright objects.

In addition, the viewer's experience is affected by their position. If I sat more than 45 degrees off-center, there was a noticeable drop in brightness and overall quality. Admittedly, the testing was done on a 24” monitor, and a larger 3D-ready HDTV would likely have allowed a bit more leeway for the seating orientation.

Overall, these critical points are relatively minor in the context that there is no other full-resolution option for Blu-ray 3D playback on the PC even announced at this time. The movie was watchable, enjoyable, and extremely clear and crisp with impeccable 3D depth. As long as the buyer is aware of the pluses and minuses, I have no reservations about bestowing a hearty recommendation for Blu-ray 3D in general, and Nvidia's 3D Vision solution in particular, when it comes to viewing 3D on the PC.

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