eDimensional 3D Glasses Review (PC)
I can’t begin to explain how skeptical I was when I heard about the eDimensional’s 3D glasses. I have a pair that came with my video card, and after 10 minutes I never touched them again. However, being the masochistic gamer that I am, I decided to go ahead and order a pair for kicks. Ninety bucks with shipping wasn’t too bad, and I heard some people raving about them when it came to racing games (which is my favorite type of game, in case you didn’t know). I hopped online at www.edimensional.com and surfed my way over to their online shop, and a couple days later I had my glasses in hand.
Installation (for me) was awkward. For 90% of you out there, it won’t be a problem. For those 10% that don’t read the installation manuals, you might have a problem. If you don’t go in and perform the calibration and setup tasks step by step, you’re in for a headache. I guess that’s why they include an installation manual in the first place…after I went back and followed the installation process to the letter, everything went off without a hitch. The calibration screen itself was pretty impressive, showing the Nvidia logo going back and forth on a bridge of some kind. All in all, installation wasn’t hard at all, after my wife convinced me to crack open the book (lesson learned).
By the time I fired up F1 2002 by EA, I was already a little annoyed by the installation process. That lasted all of 2 seconds. The opening screen of the game has your car rotating around the main menu, and I honestly had to pass my hand in front of it to see what kind of depth perception I still had…I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was a tiny hint of flicker (your monitor will depend on that, if you run it in 120Hz you won’t see it, but I run my games at higher res and lower refresh, so it was a bit noticeable, but not annoying), but it was still awesome to see. I had to hop out on the track to test them out.
That’s when the importance of “feeling” a racetrack really became apparent. You can actually see the small elevation changes in a track, or the billboards passing by the sides. Don’t even get me started on the other cars, the effect has to be seen to be believed. Finding braking points was no longer a matter of watching for a tiny sign on the side of the road, but “seeing” the corner approaching. It’s hard to explain, but it made driving more like driving and less like turning a PC game wheel on my computer desk. At Melbourne, my average lap time was in the high 1:30’s without the glasses. This is where they impressed me the most. With my same setup, same car, and same line, with simply better feel of the track, I turned a 1:31 within 5 laps. That was by far and away my best lap there, so I continued to test it at other tracks. Same result. I was 3 to 5 seconds quicker per lap at every track I tested on! Needless to say, if you’re into racing, you simply MUST check these things out.
Overall, almost every game I tested was incredibly detailed and improved because of the glasses. The world seemed more alive, and the immersion level went through the roof. The one thing I will note, however, is the performance hit these glasses will hand your system. On the average, I noticed a 15 to 20% decrease in framerate in almost all games (WHY you see a decrease is explained later). Now, if you have a good system (like I do), then it’s really not an issue. When Nascar 2002 dropped from 110 frames a second to 85, it really didn’t mean a thing. Users on lower end PC’s, however, might not be able to stomach it. Dropping from 25 fps to 18 will really kill you. Take that for what it’s worth.
So how does all this work, anyway? That’s the beauty of it. You plug the “dongle” into your video card, and either the glasses (wired pair) or the receiver (wireless) into the dongle, along with your monitor cable. What the glasses then do is render two versions of a scene, one for each lens. Both lenses have shutters on them, which essentially turns the lens opaque for a split second, and they alternate. What this does is allow your left eye to see the left image, and the right one to see the right image, giving you true depth perception, the way your eyes see all the time anyway. It’s pretty ingenious, actually. You might get some “ghosting” occasionally (where your left eye picks up on the image on the right during that nanosecond that the other shutter is opening, etc), but it’s really not noticeable after a few minutes. The fact that they could pull off doing something like this in and of itself is awesome in my opinion. But the fact remains, when you’re rendering two images all the time, you’re going to take a big performance hit, as mentioned in the previous paragraph. Your PC has to work twice as hard to render the same scene, so seeing as they got it down to a 15 to 20% hit instead of a 50% is a technical marvel. Brilliant, brilliant stuff.
Who could I recommend these glasses to? Anybody who likes PC games. Anybody who likes gadgets. Anybody who likes to have something that nobody else on the block has. When I got the glasses, I had neighbor kids from around my block in my house nonstop until my wife had to put a time limit on how often the kiddies could come over and use “my arcade”. They’re that good. Given the fact that they’re under a hundred bucks, it’s almost a no brainer. The only group I can’t recommend these to are the group of people who are going along on bottom-end PC’s. However, since that group won’t shell out a hundred bucks for a gadget on the PC (since they won’t spend a couple hundred on the PC in the first place), it’s a moot point.