3D has never really impressed me. I’ve seen everything from glasses with gimmicky red and blue lenses all the way to the polarized lenses used in many movie theatres today. So when I heard that Nvidia had a new pair of 3D glasses wrote them  off as another cheesy product that would never catch on, secure in the knowledge that I already had the ultimate gaming machine. I mean, I run a 2 Nvidia 285 SLI setup with all the trimmings. My games look damn good…or so I thought.

While at PAX East this year, I paid no mind to the large Nvidia booth showing off their new 3D Vision glasses. That was until Reuben "Sardu" Waters asked me to stop by and check it out with him. While I had no interest in seeing hokey 3D, I did have an interest in sucking up. I mean Reuben is an editor, and as such has power that I desire for my own personal use (namely making sure that if anyone has to be let go it's not me). So I quickly put on a fake smile and lied, "Hell ya, I've been dying to check it out."

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Pretty box with free Avatar game!

One of the Developers at the booth introduced himself and gave us the full sales pitch. He must have seen our press badges (That or he was just really a nice guy. I ’m going to go with the press badge though to make myself feel special) because he went out of his way to really show us what the glasses could do (for the life of me, I can't remember his name, which shows you how good of a reporter I am). Reuben asked him a million questions about tech specs, frame rates, and a bunch of other really boring things while I put on the glasses ready to yawn. While I didn’t end up yawning, my mouth did open when my jaw dropped at what I saw.

The 3D was stunning; there is simply no other word for it. I was completely blown away. I knew within the first 30 seconds of playing that this was how all video games should be seen, and this was how they were meant to be played. I felt I knew what it was like when people first saw a color TV. All they had known before was black and white, and now this new technology opened up a whole new world to them. That is how these glasses made me feel. Ok, perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but it was pretty damn awesome.

All of a sudden I was very interested in hearing what the developer was saying. What did I need to play games like this, and how many games supported the technology? He claimed that all you needed was a pair of glasses, an Nvidia graphics card, (sorry, Nvidia has no intention of sharing any love with ATI.) and a monitor that could go up to 120hz. I called bullshit, and asked what the catch was. No way that level of graphics were possible on a lower end machine with only the glasses and a monitor at 120hz. He promised me that it would run just fine on lower end machines and then upped the ante by showing me a huge list of games that worked with the glasses. My eye began to twitch. I knew I needed (not wanted, but needed) these glasses. This one demo had changed my gaming forever. I couldn't go back to non 3D gameplay. I ordered the glasses as soon as we returned to the hotel that night.

The glasses were easy to find online ($199). The monitor  was where I found the catch to the whole system. Apparently the first generation of monitors that worked with the glasses had issues with ghosting. The demo I was shown was using an Alienware monitor. That monitor ran for $450, bringing my cost up to $650. I did some research and saw there was an Acer monitor of the same size that was selling for $50 less. I couldn't decide so I ordered both. (Yes, I have more money than sense. I must ask that no one tell my wife how much I spent, please... it would be bad). I will be writing up a comparison review of the monitors in the future so you know which one to buy.

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All kinds of goodies inside!

I was shocked to find that four cables were included to hook up the glasses to the PC and then the TV to the PC. The cables included are a DVI-to-HDMI cable to connect your PC to a DLP 3D-Ready TV and two USB cables (one for charging the glasses, the other for the IR transmitter) and a VESA 3-pin stereo cable used to connect a DLP TV to the IR emitter. The IR emitter has a 20-foot range and supports as many sets of shades as you feel like buying. The front of the transmitter sports a simple on/off button. The back sports a USB port that hooks up to your PC, a power indicator, a VESA cable port (in case you use the glasses with a DLP), and a thumbwheel to adjust depth (eye separation). By default, the depth setting is 15%, I found that in certain games, adjusting depth up or down (usually down) improved the experience and reduced eye strain. The 3D Vision glasses hold approximately 40-hours of gaming per full charge and once the glasses have less than two hours of battery life left the light will start to flash red. When the light goes out you need to hook it up to the USB cable to charge the glasses. The glasses fit me just fine, and even those with a--how do I say this delicately?--huge melon of a head should find them comfortable around the ears. They flex well, and should not pose a problem for most people.

To be honest, the technology in the 3D Vision goggle isn't exactly revolutionary. They are a pair of special glasses (they look like sunglasses) with lenses that are capable of shuttering open and closed rapidly. There is also a base that plugs into a USB port and sends the proper signals wirelessly to the glasses, telling the lenses when to flicker on and off. The software tells the monitor to show 2 different images, one for the left eye, and one for the right. This is why you need a monitor capable of 120hz. Most monitors are set to 60hz, so with each eye getting its own image, the monitor runs at 60hz for each eye. The technology has been used by Imax and theme parks like Disney for years. Nvidia has simply taken that technology and applied it to where it makes the most sense, 3D games. Using it with 3D games is where Nvidia shows their genius. I mean, you play games that claim to be 3D now, why wouldn't you want to see them in actual 3D?

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Damn I make the glasses look good!

Over the next few weeks I tried the glasses out on as many games as I could get my hands on. While Nvidia does have a list of games recommended for use with the glasses, there are many, many more that work just fine with them. I tried some that worked incredibly well including WoW, LOTRO, Aion, Dragon Age and Left 4 Dead. The glasses made these games seem like brand new games to me. Others were acceptable, and still played quite well to the point that I still would rather play with the glasses than without--games like DDO, Mass Effect 2, and Oblivion. Finally there were a few, although these were very few, games that were damn near unplayable with the 3D Vision--games like Age of Conan, and Command and Conquer. Most, however, were far better than I imagined.

I then plugged them into a lower end system I have for my kids. (Yes, Daddy gets the kick ass computer, the kids get the hand me downs.) The system is running an older GeForce 8800 graphics card, 2 gigs of ram, and a core 2 duo 2.4 GHz processor. I thought that while my monster machine ran everything amazing well, my framerate never dropped below 60 FPS (usually run around 100), the demand from the glasses would bring the old machine to its knees. I was surprised when the 3D was turned on I only saw about a 30 framerate drop. 30 frames per second is not a small amount, but I really expected the glasses to turn the games into a slide show. While I did have to tweak a few setting and turn down some of the eye candy on the old machine it still looked damn good. On my high end machine I kept all the settings maxed out and enjoyed the show.

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Avatar looks stunning

There are some down sides to the glasses that I would be remiss if I didn't point out. To start, people who wear corrective lenses might have a hard time wearing these over their existing pair. They sit close to the eyes and wear just like sunglasses. It would be nice if Nvidia produced a pair that could accommodate glasses worn underneath. The glasses are slightly adjustable with different nose guards for comfort, but I believe those with prescription eyewear will still have some issues.

Also, the lenses are dark. This means that if you play at night in low light conditions it can be a real pain to see the keyboard and make sure you’re pressing the right keys. This is true even with light up keyboards such as the Logitech G15. I also noticed some slight ghosting after prolonged use. This is greatly affected by the monitor you use (I’ll cover monitors in the next article), but it is there. Finally, it does take some time to let your eyes adjust to the display. Eye strain, while slight, is present. When I first put the glasses on and played I got a headache after 2 hours or so. Now, 3 weeks in, I have played an 8 hour marathon and experienced no headaches at all.

There’s one more crucial issue: those sadistic bastards at Nvidia make you charge the glasses fully before the first use. I had to wait 3 hours for the glasses to charge before I was able to try them out. Sitting there staring at them while they took their time charging, almost mocking me, was torture. This must be addressed immediately.  

After 3 weeks of playing games with the Nvidia 3D glasses I have to say that I am finding it harder and harder to want to play any game I can't use them with. I spent $650 to see games in true 3D and it was worth every penny. This is without a doubt the single biggest change I have seen visually in games since we moved away from using 2D sprites for graphics. The fact that so many games work so well with the technology is a huge bonus. If your choice is buying a new video card, or getting these glasses... get the glasses. Your MMOGs and favorite single player games will look better than you can imagine, and that is no exaggeration. This isn't like any 3D you have seen before, this is how games are suppose to look. This is what we as gamers should demand every game to use. This is the future of gaming...so go buy it!

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016