NVIDIA 3D Vision 2 Kit Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: October 14, 2011
Product Name: 3D Vision 2
Warranty: 1 Year (for glasses)
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Introducing the ASUS VG278H 3D LightBoost Monitor

With backlit, high output, high efficiency LED panels quickly replacing their CCFL brethren, it was only a matter of time until they made a jump into the stereoscopic 3D gaming world. HDTV manufacturers have already taken advantage of the LED’s natural ability to eliminate crosstalk (also called ghosting) by transitioning to this technology for most of their current and next generation 3D televisions. NVIDIA’s monitor partners have also begun moving towards LED panels in order to realize these same benefits but they have incorporated a number of new features which further play to the strength of LED backlights and improve 3D Vision performance.

In a 3D Vision 2 environment this new generation of monitors plays a leading role since the core technologies housed within the glasses hasn’t changed.

One of the main complaints many users had about NVIDIA’s 3D Vision was the loss of brightness when wearing their polarized shutter glasses. In order to counteract this, all 3D Vision 2 certified monitors will include something called 3D Lightboost technology. NVIDIA’s own explanation of this is far clearer than anything we could possibly achieve:

3D LightBoost works by adjusting the LED backlight in the monitor to pulse twice as brightly in unison with the LCD lenses in the 3D Vision glasses, making the resulting images 2 times brighter than previous 3D products. In contrast, older 3D monitors and laptops without 3D LightBoost have constant backlights where half the light is wasted.

On the old monitors with CCFL lamps that are on all the time, both lenses were forced into a dark phase while the image shifted from left to right. Now that the LED backlights switch off quickly in-between frames, refreshing at 120 times per second with a 2ms response time, the open timings of the glasses can be stretched. This lets in more ambient light so gamers can see the keyboard better. 3D LightBoost technology is a giant leap in the visual quality of 3D gaming on a PC.

In plain English, this will allow LightBoost-certified monitors to appear up to 200% brighter than older models like the Samsung 2233RZ and Acer GD235HZ when a 3D application is run. On the flip side of this coin, when running in 2D mode, the monitor will remain at its user-set backlight ratio so you won’t have to worry about a retina searing Windows desktop or word document.

Since Lightboost allows the glasses' LCD lenses to stay open longer, users are able to realize a secondary benefit as well: increased environmental light. Finally, wearing 3D Vision glasses won’t entail fumbling around in the dark for your keyboard and mouse.

3D LightBoost is actually one of three features which are built into these new monitors. Naturally, they all still sport 120Hz refresh rates for a more fluid 2D gaming experience but advanced reduction of 3D ghosting has also been built in.

Now on its third generation (the first was rolled out with the first generation of monitors while the second was included with later units like the aforementioned Acer GD235HZ), NVIDIA’s so called “ghost busting” takes advantage of the fast pulse width modulation of LED panels to increase the internal refresh rate of their glasses to virtually eliminate 3D ghosting. In my testing, there was a noticeable difference between the Acer panel and the new ASUS VG278H in this respect.

Speaking of the VG278H, here it is in all its glory. This 27” gaming monitor is one of the first products with complete support for NVIDIA’s 3D LightBoost technology and comes bundled with a pair 3D Vision 2 glasses. It uses a TN-based 120Hz panel with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 while cutting one hell of an imposing figure.

Unfortunately, 3D panels haven’t quite progressed beyond the 1080P category yet but expect higher resolution panels to be available in the next year or so….at an astronomical price of course. The VG278H isn’t inexpensive either at $699.

Most 3D LightBoost certified monitors will have an integrated IR emitter and the VG278H is no exception. As we already mentioned, NVIDIA chose to stick with a simple, yet effective and stable infrared connection rather than transitioning to the esoteric Bluetooth link some HDTV manufacturers have chosen.

Within the screen’s OSD menu, a number of 3D Vision specific settings can be modified. The NVIDIA LightBoost section sets the LightBoost’s backlight intensity while the 3D IR Mode allows for either one or multiple sets of 3D Vision glasses to be run from the same integrated emitter.

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