See just how far the rabbit hole goes…

I had held off on getting a 3DTV for what seems like a long time. The costs, the fact I don’t like 3D films at the cinema, the way it makes games more confusing than they already are; it just didn’t seem for me. But about a week ago I was on the lookout for a new TV and ended up grabbing a Toshiba 42VL863B 42” 3D LED TV and thought I’d write a bit about our experiences with it so far.

The Toshiba uses the passive glasses that you get in the cinema. It probably has lots of technical disadvantages but for the consumer it has two massive advantages; the glasses are cheap as hell, and they don’t flicker. This is a huge thing for me as I couldn’t understand paying £1000 for a 3DTV when they came out, and then having to shell out £100 for each pair of glasses, with this TV we got 8. The TV is smaller than the one it has replaced in our living room. Our 46” Samsung LED was really too big for the distance we sit away from it, so that has been moved upstairs to a larger room. As a TV the Toshiba is a fairly wonderful thing. Colours are great are there’s lots of settings to tinker with; the bezel is a sort of brushed metal so doesn’t reflect too much; the refresh rate is fast enough to not be noticeable, a first for any LED TVs I’ve seen. The controller is weird and long, with a bizarre sliding silver section, and my universal remote doesn’t work with the TV, but that’s not too much of a deal breaker. Also, and weirdly, whenever we press a button on the Toshiba remote, the LG TV in the same room switches on and stays on.

But the 3D is what really interested me when I got it home and set it up. I quickly scoured my shelves for what 3D content we had and found I had Killzone 3 on the PS3, my PC graphics card (Nvidia GeForce GTX 550Ti) could cope with 3d output using Nvidia 3d Vision, and that was about it.

Setting up 3D on the Playstation 3 was easy, it just does it for you. Killzone was impressive in terms of depth. The information on your helmet in the opening scene of the game did seem very close, and there was real depth to the snow-covered base, but the resolution took a mighty hit. What was once a visually impressive game became blocky and muddied, a side effect of the PS3 needing to render everything twice. Just think what games like COD look like in split-screen, but blown up to full screen, that’s the kind of quality loss you see here. Gameplay wise it has a surprising effect, You do get a sense of the location of enemies a lot better. It doesn’t make you play better, but it makes sense a little more. The counteraction is that everything is confusing. I played Motorstorm Apocalypse at Eurogamer Expo in 3D year before last and it an assault on the senses. The extra input from 3D makes hectic games even more hectic and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. At the moment I would say it wasn’t worth it due to the lowered resolution and occasionally stuttering frame-rate, but it is something to show your friends that’s pretty neat.

On the PC things were more difficult. I had to install special drivers for Nvidia (that they try to charge you for as well! I’m on a free trial at the moment) and play with resolutions to get anything to work. 3D video on it was absolutely fine although I still can’t get Youtube to work at all in 3D. Basically if the TV detects something running in 3D, you’re fine. If not, then I can’t seem to find a way around it.

Gaming on the PC seems a little better than the PS3. The GeForce card works admirably with games that support 3D (although Witcher 2 takes a huge hit in terms of performance) but simpler games run extremely well, with loads of options to calibrate the depth and other complicated things I don’t understand. The special 3D Vision drivers (that you have to pay for) also work to make 2D games run as 3D. I’ve only tried this with SWTOR so far, and it was amazing. The game ran well, and the 3D really worked. A few glitches such as nameplates appearing at the front rather than over the characters, but other than that I was impressed with the scale it added to the game. The drivers are around £30 at the moment and while I feel a little dubious of having to pay for them, they do work wonders on a variety of games, the control panel is straight-forward, and they handily provide you with a comprehensive list of the games that work well.

So far I’ve been impressed with the 3D. It’s not something I will use every day, but for games that support it, or PC games that really benefit, it’s a great addition. Now the technology is cheaper and more reliable, it’s a decent investment if you’re a tech-geek like me, being one more way games can make you feel immersed.

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