To those who’ve followed a couple of decades or more of consumer technology, the enthusiasm of today’s entertainment world for all things 3D will come as nothing new.
After all, there’ve been several phases in the past where film companies have eagerly pushed the third dimension as the next big thing in cinema. To date, the hype has dissolved into nothing within a very short space of time. But the sheer number of companies involved, and the intensity with which they’re embracing the new wave of technology, suggest that it could be different this time. The next ten years really could be the decade in which 3D gathers substance.
We’ve seen a steady stream of both 3D film and game titles coming out recently. And media behemoths like Sky have been throwing much of their substantial marketing clout into securing the future success of this technology in the UK. Perhaps most significantly, the technology in PCs, televisions and monitors is now sufficiently advanced to make 3D work and work effectively. The Asus VG236H is one of few full 3D monitors, but there are a sizeable number being promised for upcoming months.
But first, let's take a look at what's required to see images in 3D on this screen
In common with other 3D screens today, the Asus VG236H takes advantage of nVidia’s proprietary 3D Vision technology, and this means you’ll need a compatible nVidia graphics card to get started, bad luck for those using ATI. A good number of nVidia cards will work with 3D Vision, including most of those available today - there’s a full list on the nVidia website.
Should you want to use the Asus VG236H on a gaming machine, you’ll undoubtedly want to ensure you have a graphics card with plenty of speed. In practice, this eliminates most of the cheaper options.
Besides a compatible graphics card and 120Hz screen, you’ll also need nVidia’s 3D Vision Kit. One of these should be supplied with the Asus VG236H (although always check before buying), and consists of a pair of 3D glasses and a USB controller/IR emitter.
The 3D glasses are lightweight (looking rather like a cheap pair of Ray Bans) but rather more robust than the typical shades you’ll get for 3D. A mini USB cable allows them to be plugged in for recharging their integral batteries. The glasses last for several hours between charges. When not charging, the glasses are completely wireless and communicate with a Windows PC via the IR emitter.
Should you want to use the glasses for viewing films, you’ll need a Blu-Ray drive (either a writer or a BD-ROM like the Plextor PX-B120U) and suitable playback software. The latter must have 3D support. CyberLink PowerDVD version 10 will be fine, for example, as will the 3D edition of version 9. Finally, your PC must be running Windows, either Windows 7 or Vista, and it’ll need to be equipped with at least an Intel Core 2 Duo or an AMD Athlon X2 CPU.
The crucial feature of the Asus VG236H is its ability to refresh at a rate of 120Hz. Standard screens refresh at 60Hz, and the Asus’ higher figure means that it can operate two separate 60Hz images at once.
The screen uses alternate-frame sequencing to display a different image for each eye. You then put on active shutter glasses which ensures that each eye only sees the image intended for it. The images will be displayed in quick succession, and each eye will be blanked out when the image on the screen isn’t intended for it. The final effect is that appropriate images are seen in three dimensions.