Product Review
3D Glasses from E-Dimensional
reviewed by Rocky

Published : 29nd Aug 2003
Last Updated : 20th Oct 2005
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Related Links : E-Dimensional
Forum discussion : Here
Files : 1Mb movie | 6Mb stereo DivX Priceless movie


Foreword

E-Dimensional's 3d Glasses are supplied with Nvidia and ATi drivers, in order to fully test performance, we have reviews for both sets of drivers. You can read Dark Ranger's review for the ATi driven 3d Glasses by clicking here.

Introduction

It was only last month that I got my first taste of a true 3D movie at an I-Max Cinema, what a cool experience that was! I had no idea that 3D technology had come so far that the movie was put right in your lap - I also had no clue that the same effect could be achieved in the home, with any video game, for less than 100 bucks! Enter 3D glasses by E-Dimensional.

When you think about it, Ghost Recon was developed in three dimensions. The maps, the vehicles, the weapons, the characters, they were all modelled using 3D software - and yet that's not how we see it. Until you put on a pair of 3D glasses, you are not seeing the game in the manner it was developed - and once you have seen Ghost Recon in 3D, you'll realise what you have been missing out on. It really is amazing - read on for all details....

Requirements

Let's get the boring bit out of the way first and onto the good stuff - because there is some very, very good stuff coming up!

The E-Dimensional Glasses pack is compatible with all video cards and now even support LCD monitors, and the pack comes complete with Nvidia drivers and new ATI drivers.

The reviewer's setup is P4 1.5Ghz, 512Mb RAM, a GeForce 2 64Mb, and a 17 inch Samsung Monitor.

The Kit

Before we go ahead and install the glasses, let's take a close look at the contents of the 3D Wired Glasses box.

First of all there is a 4-page users guide which basically guides the user, funnily enough.

Next out is a small connector for "older video cards", that can go back in the box then for a start! That leaves two items, the dongle and the glasses. The dongle is a bit smaller than a CD and has connections for the glasses and the monitor cable.

The glasses are light but robust. I know - I already dropped them onto a table and they still work! They come with two additional legs for comfort, and the ones that are fitted have a good range of adjustment on them - so no problems getting them to sit nicely.

The first thing you notice about the glasses, apart from how sexy they are, is that the lenses are not red and green like conventional 3D glasses. These look tinted, like sunglasses.

Apparently they work by changing opacity at an extremely fast rate, first on the left eye, then on the right. The monitor displays two images, one for the left eye and one for the right. By coordinating the left image with the left lens when it is clear, and the same with the right lens, the 3D image is created. It's one of those things that even in theory doesn't sound good, but it works, very very well, as you are about to see.

Also in the box are 4 CDs. The first contains the installation software (graphics drivers, E-Dimensional toolbar controller and stereo drivers).

The latest pack contains drivers for both GeForce and ATI cards. The other CDs are games. In this box was Rainbow Six, Nascaar Heat, and a Star Trek Voyager game. There is also a trial for 3D-Convert, a utility that will convert your own images to 3D images.

 

Installation - The Hardware

Surprisingly, there is no need to open you PC case at all to gain 3D games on your PC - good news!

Before I started, I opened up Windows XP tools and set a restore point. Always a good idea when installing new software. With that done it was simply a case of making a couple of connections and I was good to go! Here's a data blast of every step I took...

  • Power down PC
  • Remove monitor cable from PC unit
  • Plug dongle into the monitor socket
  • Plug the monitor into the dongle

So basically the dongle sits between the monitor and the PC. Now we just plug the cable from the glasses into the dongle, power up the PC, and insert the software CD.

Installation - The Software

Once the disk is in, a test screen appears on the screen. Before you have even installed the software, you are greeted with a big green dragon hanging out of your monitor - very cool! Before proceeding you have to select a left or right button, only one of them gives the 3D dragon image. I found the further away I sat from the monitor, the greater the effect; the dragon was clearly 100-150mm out of the screen! In order to get the glasses working well with games, we need to install the drivers...

The installer is fully automated and ran through installations for 3D combine, Nvidia drivers, and Nvidia stereo drivers - with a system restart before and after the stereo drivers. Back at the desktop I reset my display properties to the preferred settings as they had changed during the driver installation.

Now it was a case of following the users guide to set up the Stereo Properties. This was pretty straightforward too - here's a quick run through...

  • Bring up Display Properties (Right Click on Desktop)
  • Select the new Stereo Properties tab
  • Select the Stereo Setup and Test button (If it is greyed out - Enable Stereo then click Apply)

In the setup screen you can run a test. Don't worry if the 3D test is less than impressive, it's when you fire up Ghost Recon that the fun really starts.

Mystery shopper

It was during the software setup that I thought I'd e-mail the E-Dimensional support guys and see how responsive they were to customer e-mails. Support e-mailed at 05 August 2003 12:54, the reply came in at 05 August 2003 13:08, which is 14 minutes later, for the mathematically challenged. You can't ask for much more than that!

Ghost Recon in a new Light!

Let's get down to it then. How does it look in Ghost Recon, can it really be 3D?

The way the system works, is that while you are working away, or browsing the web, everything is displayed as normal, but as soon as you fire up a game, the 3D software kicks in and you are up and running.

In Ghost Recon, the 3D software takes over right away, which made the menu screens go all out of whack - not a problem though; there is a range of useful keyboard shortcuts for controlling the software, so a quick Ctrl-T, and the menus are back to normal. So, let's start a quick mission, auto equip the team, and get started!

Out of the Monitor!

While the mission is loading, I put on the glasses, not knowing just how it was going to look. As soon as the mission loaded, I spun my character around to survey the scenery, it was awesome. It works in two ways - there is an amazing depth of field, and there is that awesome "out of the monitor" effect too. Let me explain.

The "out of the monitor" effect displayed itself best when I walked up to a sniper and had a close look at him. I cannot express how cool this was. The camo webbing that is draped over the snipers, it was really "hanging" over his arms. Through the gaps in the camo, I could see his body, and the depth of field just in that one character model was so cool. It was like someone just dropped an action man figure on the desk in front of me, no kidding.

Zooming in on his face, even his nose was 3D! Do you remember the first time you saw a GR character blink at you? Or maybe it was in Rogue spear you saw it first, wait until you see a 3D face blink, superb!

When he raised his rifle and pointed it at me, that's when I really noticed that he was leaning out of the monitor. The top half of his body, and that huge sniper rifle, were midway between my nose and the monitor! I could make out the camo draped over the end of the rifle, and look at both sides of it! I put my hand out to "touch" the rifle, then looked at my hand - it was about 6 inches away from the monitor!

Depth of Field

For the most part, this is what you will notice, and for me this was equally impressive. Every single aspect of the display suddenly develops a depth. I saw a group of 4 guys standing in a group. As I approached them, I could see they were standing in a circle, a real circle. It's hard to explain, so try this experiment. Get four action men figures, remove the glass from your monitor, take out the CR-Tube, put the 4 figures inside the monitor - THAT is what it looks like, for real!

Another impressive effect was on a bridge. As I looked out, past the bridge ironwork, the valley and hills in the distance, really were in the distance - it was like a tiny world just dropped inside the monitor.

Details Details

For some reason it was the character detail that really floored me. Examining my Ghost buddies was great. The pocket pouches on their legs, were bulging full, sticking right out, and the helmet visors had a clear gap in front of the face.

The weapon models were tremendous. I was looking at some of the modded weapons available in the Frostbite mod in 3D, and my first thought was of the modders who put these weapons together. Until they see them in Ghost Recon, in 3D, they have not seen their work at its best. Infact I would go as far as to say that the 2-D models are bland and boring by comparison. It also goes to show what a totally amazing job the modders have made of these weapons that they look tremendous in a medium that the modders had no access to - true 3D.

The same goes for the tank models. They looked awesome and far more imposing in three dimensions than in two. And when I blew a tank up the flying debris was clearly 3 dimensional even when viewed from a safe distance.

Another neat moment was when I was rushed by a Russian, just after I had thrown a grenade in his general direction. Before he had a chance to raise his weapon, the frag blew up behind him, throwing him, spread eagled right in my direction in full 3D! That is spectacular.

Fine Tuning

It was while playing Frostbite that I started playing with the settings and checking frame rates. Because it is so easy to toggle the 3D on and off even in the middle of a mission, I was able to record some Frames Per Second (FPS). There is a FPS hit when you run the game in 3D. I was losing between 3 and 12 FPS on different areas of the map. Depending on your graphics card, and your graphics settings you may not notice a drop - but there is an impact on the performance.

Anyone who has heard of these 3D Glasses before might have heard of an aiming issue. By fine tuning 2 of the settings (while in the game) I was able to maintain a good 3D effect, and still have quite a sharp, single reticule on the screen (this fine tuning also resolved an issue with the command map not appearing correctly at first). This meant I was hitting similar kill ratios as I did playing in 2D. I did notice that the 3D effect seemed to force me to use a slightly different aiming procedure, where I would line up the reticule for the shot, but look through, or past the reticule for subsequent shots. It's hard to explain, but the depth of field means that the reticule takes less prominence after the initial aim, and instinct takes over - which is actually much more realistic I guess.

What About Other Games?

The stereo control panel contains a massive list of almost every DirectX game there is.

I only noticed some very recent games missing from the list - but E-Dimensional are testing new games with the glasses on a continual basis.

For each game listed, there are 2 scores which give an indication of how well the 3D glasses work with that particular game. There is also a comments box for additional information. For example if the game menus are distorted it might be noted there.

I tried a few of other games to see how they ran and looked in 3D.

Raven Shield was different from the totally immersive Ghost Recon environment. With the weapon view on, every detail of the weapon could be seen in glorious 3D, however beyond that it lacked the same depth as I had seen in Ghost Recon. When I switched the weapon view off, there was a slight increase in spacial awareness thanks to the 3D effect. Neverthess, it is 3D, and an improvement on the normal 2d version.

One of the games never worked at all - that was Homeworld, which was a pity. However the bundled Nascaar Heat worked so well, that I reinstalled two of my old racers - Touring Cars Championships 2 (TOCA2) and Colin McRae Rally, and went and purchased Nascar 2003! All of the racers look great in 3D. In TOCA I switched off all the HUD and the whole screen was 3D.

I found the best views were the two outside the car, either just behind and above, or on the front bumper. From there you could see the other car models very clearly, and from the rear view you could see right inside your own car, to the dials on the dashboard, which looked very cool in 3D. When I strayed off the track into the gravel pits, the 3D effect of gravel being kicked up by the tyres was very realistic.

 

Back on Nascaar - it was as if this game was coded specifically for the 3D Glasses - here's why. In the pre-race build up, all the screens and movie footage were in 2D, which was fine. Then when the race started, suddenly we are thrown into a huge 3D racing bowl complete with crystal clear 3D cars bumper to bumper.
But the really cool thing was the HUD elements were in perfect 2D, as if they were post-it notes carefully stuck on the front of the monitor. This added to the depth of field and made it very easy on the eye. I'd go as far as to say this was one of the best gaming experiences I have ever had - it just looked fantastic, and this is bundled with the 3D pack!

Nascar 2003 replays look fantastic in 3D. In the after-race screen where the replay is played back in a small window - it's like a window into a small 3Dimensional world, watching your car race around in a perfect 3D environment. Even in the Paint Shop where you can design your own car, the 3D model really is three dimensional as it spins around - very cool.

In my opinion, racers are going to be a huge market for these glasses; 2D just isn't the same anymore!

Conclusion

I have read the theory of how the glasses turn any game into 3D, but playing the games in 3D, I just can't figure out how it does it! From the remarkable depth of view that puts the hills away in the distance, the close up action that sticks an M4 right up your nose, to the 3D features on the characters faces - it's nothing short of remarkable. These glasses are now the best gadget in my house, no doubt about it.

I mean, I could understand if they only worked with certain, specially coded games, but these glasses have been tested with every single DirectX game, and at a guess, I would say 90%+ work well! Not only that, but with an additional software pack - you can relive your entire DVD collection - in glorious 3D, using these same glasses.

Below I have listed some other reviews for your convenience. Elited's review actually mentions Ghost Recon, so I will conclude with a quote from that review, so you can see I am not getting excited over nothing!

"Ghost Recon comes alive with the E-Dimensional glasses. The characters become amazingly real, as if you could reach out and touch them, and the way their eyes actually blink and move around makes it even more spine tingling. This is a sight to see, no doubt. Out of all of the games that I tried with the 3D glasses, Ghost Recon was the most impressive."

If you are looking for a final score at the foot of this review, I am guessing you have not read a word of my fanboy ramblings typed above. However I will say that this kit gets full marks on every count.

Finally, if you think I am excited about this product - check this guy out! (Right click Save as, view and skip to around 5 mins 30 secs.)

Epilogue

Don't Take my Word!

It's hard to describe in words how a 3D effect is so much better than the 2d version, and it is impossible to show any images to prove it. What I did do though, was video tape two unsuspecting Ghost Recon noobs when they put the glasses on for the first time. What they are doing here - is trying to touch an assault rifle as it sticks out of the monitor! As you will see near the end of the short clip - the effect extends a full 150mm out of the monitor! Download it here. For entertainment value I produced a DIVX version with a stereo soundtrack, you can download that 6mb version here.

Unfortunately I missed the really funny bit where they were grasping about in thin air with both hands in front of the monitor. When I asked them what they were doing they said, "trying to touch the trees", ahem.

I am aware that this product review comes across very positive to say the least - at least I hope it does because I love the glasses! But incase anyone reading this would like a second opinion, here are some quotes from Ghost Recon fans, and reviews from other sites. Enjoy.

"I got myself a pair after reading Rocky's review a year or so ago. At the Time I had a Gforce Grphics card that was a bit long in the tooth but I though I'd give it ago. End result was absolutley awesome, GR look absolutely fabulous..." Stig

"Your review persuaded me to buy the glasses , and I'm grateful for that." malvarez

"Woowww I made them work. Really great effects." foxhound

"I have an ATI 9800Pro and the glasses work very good... The glasses are great. It's amazing the effect. It's really 3D, the bags go OUT off the monitor, and the guns too. Now, i can´t play a game without the glasses." Pierre30 (Portugal)

"I turned up the 3D all the way, OMG ahaha i was just looking at the Sniper for about 5min" whoa

"...these glasses definitely have a large potential cool factor. After tuning, the images are 3D . The bushes and other soldiers stand out and I wish I had more time to play." Ripple

"After going through about 20 different games, my feelings ... have not changed. Racing games look impressive, and flight simulator 2002 looked incredible. These glasses make PC games fun again and ... It takes a lot to impress me, and this product really did." From Techspot.

"I’d say if you want 3D, then these glasses are the best thing on the market, hands down"

"Ghost Recon comes alive with the E-Dimensional glasses. The characters become amazingly real, as if you could reach out and touch them, and the way their eyes actually blink and move around makes it even more spine tingling. This is a sight to see, no doubt. Out of all of the games that I tried with the 3D glasses, Ghost Recon was the most impressive." From Elited

"If you think Morrowind is realistic looking now, wait until you have seen it with the 3D glasses. It appears as if you could actually touch the roughness of the trees, run your hand through the cool water" From Elited

"I am truly amazed at not only the quality of the glasses, but the 3D virtual world they have created on my monitor. Gaming has never looked so good." From Elited

"I can honestly say that I've never seen anything like it; it's simply amazing" simracingworld

"The game is literally transformed" simracingworld

"I have never felt so immersed and "part" of the game that I've been playing before wearing these glasses" simracingworld

"I was instantly amazed" overclockersclub

 

Availability

E-Dimensional 3D glasses, and a selection of other gamer gadgets are available online at E-Dimensional.com.


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