Ten years ago we were promised that the future held fully immersive 3D-cyberspace. Virtual was the buzz-word of early 90s, but it quickly became more diluted than the Titanic.
The ProFormance III and ProCyber 3D bundle comes closer to VR than anything before. It offers a binocular 3D view in games and 3D-modelling software.
The magic is all down to the LCD glasses that create the 3D effect. Each lens is actually a tiny LCD panel – not a sophisticated one, it just acts like a shutter with a clear or black option. Each eye is blacked out in turn at a rate set by the video card. For example, if a monitor is running at 120MHz the shutters will show each eye 60 frames per second. Each eye then sees the scene from a slightly different angle and presto, 3D vision.
The glasses are controlled by an infra-red transmitter that is mounted on top of the monitor. There is a receiver on the glasses, so that the signal can switch the shuttered lenses on and off at the correct moment. The effect is astounding. If you are already wearing glasses the 3D ones will fit over the top in most cases. Though if you favour the Elton John-style of eyewear, there could be a problem.
Although the glasses are, in theory, compatible with a number of 3D modelling packages, gaming is the most obvious application for them. If a game uses OpenGL it should be no big deal to add a 3D option. Games that have this feature include the latest versions of Quake, Unreal and Descent. Having tried them, I would say Descent III has the best implementation of 3D effects.
A quick straw poll of colleagues proved that this is a technology that’ll amaze and intrigue your friends. Also, I was pleasantly surprised at the price: the 16MB video-card version comes in at £199.This may seem expensive, but the card has uses beyond 3D gaming. Its performance is very impressive in all applications, and it’s probably worth the £200 –without the glasses.
Even part-time gamers should be able to slip this bundle through the budget because of the high-end performance of the card. It’s at its best with a monitor boasting high refresh-rates – although we tested it at only 80MHz and it was fine. LCD displays will not work though, because of slow refresh rates.