If there were two things we knew we’d be seeing at CES 2011, it was tablets and 3D. We’ve not been disappointed. We’ve been bringing you all the tablets as they come in on our CES tablet-counter but now it’s time to talk of the other; so what has Vegas brought us in 3D for 2011?
We were all expecting some upgrades in TVs - improvements in crosstalk, more powerful picture engines and faster refresh rates - but what of all the other gadgetry out there? What else has just gone 3D?
Computer screens were HD a long time before TVs were and, with games expected to be as big a driver of 3D as films, it’s of little surprise that we’ve seen a few launches this way in Vegas. Ever the force in laptop video gaming, Alienware has brought out its first 3D model in the shape of the M17x R3. It comes with a 1.5GB Nvidia GTX 460M graphics card and the same chassis as the first two 17x computers with all the LED lighting, logos and metal plate under the WADS keys, but inside lurks the new Intel i5 or i7 Sandy Bridge processors.
Dell’s also brought out a 3D laptop in slightly more sedate fashion under the XPS label. It’s another 17-incher and revamped with Nvidia's 3D tech on board the JBL sound based machine; again, with the new Sandy Bridge Intel Core i7 processor. It packs the Nvidia GeForce GT 555M graphics card which, combined with the NVision 3D glasses (sold separately), means 3D on its 17-inch screen, or via your 3D TV using Nvidia 3DTV Play if you'd prefer.
Among the 16-laptop raid Lenovo launched at CES 2011 was a 3D high performance model known as the Lenovo IdeaPad Y570d. It’s a 15.6-inch machine with the new Intel Core i7 CPUs, Nvidia's GeForce 555M 1GB switchable graphics, up to 8GB of DDR3 RAM and up to 1TB HDDs. Oh, and it’ll boot up in under 10 seconds.
Finally for laptops, Sony was good enough to make its IFA 2010 prototype a reality. The Sony Vaio F Series, with its 16-inch Full HD display and 3D to 2D switch, will be going into production. It’ll even let you convert flat films to those with the added depth as well.
Camcorders is where it’s getting hot in 3D right now. We saw the first one-camera professional solution at CES 2010 with Panasonic’s $20,000 offering but things have got very consumer this time around. JVC brought out its very first in the shape of the JVC GS-TD1. It’s capable of producing two simultaneous HD images using two camera lenses and two 3.32 megapixel CMOS sensors - one for each lens - to capture 3D images and it picks up a “world's first” for its left/right independent format ensuring left and right images are taken at 1920 x 1080i and processed simultaneously by its high-speed imaging engine. All very nice and only about a grand.
For something a little cheaper, you can pick from one of five Panasonic models with the company an old hand in this field since bringing the first consumer camcorder to market in 2010. The trick is that while all of them come as standard with just the one lens, they’re each compatible with the Panasonic VW-CLT1 3D converter. The top three of the range come with three processing sensor solutions but you can pick up one of the cheaper two that just sport the one.
For the casual user, Sony has updated its Bloggie camcorder to become the first of its kind to shoot 3D. The Sony Bloggie MHS-FS3 comes with a 2.4-inch 3D glasses free LCD display that lets you enjoy the footage straight away from the two optics on the front of the device. It shoots 1920 x 1080p MP4 HD video with 5mp still images and up to 4 hours of 2D HD with 8GB of internal memory. All that for $250 from spring. Of course, if you’d rather go with the mega-bucks, there’s also the Sony HDR-TD10E for $1500. It’s a handheld 3D camcorder, like the JVC, with Full HD to each eye. It lets you playback in 2D or on the 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD with glasses-free 3D.
Sound has been 3D for quite some time now, so if you’re wondering how the manufacturers have managed to sell home cinema on this promise, it’s because it’s all about Blu-ray. LG’s biggest product is the whopping 7.2 channel LG HX996TS. At its heart it’s a 3D Blu-ray deck but there’s also the company’s Vertical 3D Effect Channel technology in the sound department as well. There’s all the USB, iPod docking and DLNA you could ask for but, if you’d prefer something a little more modest, there’s always the 5.1 LGHB906SB or even just the stand alone Wi-Fi-enabled LG BD690 player which comes with a 250GB HDD for storing downloaded content. Follow the link for full details, pretty pictures and a little bit of drooling.
Sony was also on the charge with 3D home cinema kit as well. In the Blu-ray player department, we can now await the arrival of the BDP-S480 and S580 both of which bring internet and USB connectivity for sharing/streaming video, pictures, browsing the web and the all important 3D functionality, DLNA networking and a drop of Wi-Fi if you happen to opt for the latter model. As for the sound side of the equation, there are three set ups which all stream videos and music from the Internet or your iDevice, can play 3D movies through the Blu-ray player and have 3D surround sound functionality. If you’re hot on numbers, they’re known as the BDV-E280, E380 and E880.
Finally, not to be outdone, Samsung launched the world’s thinnest 3D Blu-ray player. It’s just 23mm thick and comes with the company's Internet@TV as well as being compatible with many of the Samsung apps that are emerging as the connected service matures - YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Lovefilm and the other usual suspects.
It would be remiss of us not to mention the 3DTVs that were announced at the show but not purely for reasons of completeness. Yes, there were the usual rounds from Sony Bravia with an emphasis Skype, internet connectivity and 3D; Panasonic Viera plasmas with faster then ever panels and stylish looks; Samsung with Smart Hub technology at the helm and LG with its debut into the world of 3D LED screens, including a 72-inch model - the world’s largest - that was quite hard to miss. Oh, and in case LG was feeling all smug, Mitsubishi was only a couple of stands over with the largest 3D LCD TV of all time measuring an extension building 92-inches on the diagonal.
Probably more interesting than the numbers chase though was the news from Toshiba who promised glasses-free 3DTVs on the shelf and available for purchase some time between April 2011 and March 2012. They’re set to be LED backed and range from 40-65-inches in size.
Mobiles, glasses and other prototypes
Some of the more exciting developments in 3D at this year’s show were much smaller than 72-inches across. Samsung developed the world’s lightest pairs of active 3D shutter glasses to keep that uncomfortable weight off the bridge of your nose. There were also some more stylish pairs as well.
Sony went for eyewear that was just a little more bulky with a 3D prototype concept that looked something like early 90s VR from the outside. What was actually going on was a Vuzix-type solution to personal 3D where each eye has a separate OLED screen in front of it to offer a depth effect free of crosstalk. The company also took the time to tell us about its 4K and 3K autostereoscopic panels it's been developing.
Last of all, there was LG looking to bring the big screen’s latest crowd pleaser to the smallest screens of all - mobile phones. Pocket-lint was there to get a hands on experience of how it all might be looking, glasses-free, on our handsets in the not-so-distant future.
Be sure to check out our dedicated CES homepage for all of the news, views and analysis of what went down in Vegas.