Besides the gaming driver, the iZ3D has a special player for viewing 3D movies and pictures. Such content must be originally recorded as 3D content. The monitor cannot add depth to flat images.
The viewing angles are quite good in the stereo mode. You don’t have to keep a certain position of your head. The picture gets distorted only when you deflect your head far from the center of the screen. The iZ3D uses linear polarization of light, so the image quality is affected if you tilt your head left or right.
By the way, the marketing folks’ favorite picture of a monster sticking out of the screen has little to do with reality. Perhaps if stereo monitors take off for real and game developers take them into account, we will really see monsters jumping out of the screen, but in today’s games the game world goes back from the screen but does not cross it.
I checked the monitor out in a few different games. I selected the stereo mode settings manually for each game, so the value of Separation varied from 10 to 20%. The Convergence parameter was selected in such a way that distant objects did not double.
- Far Cry. The stereo effect is present in this game, but there are very distracting artifacts that show up as light shadows around objects (I will explain their origin below). It is virtually impossible to aim with the accurate sight when the gun’s barrel is in the center of the screen. The eyes get tired in 30-40 minutes of play.
- Need for Speed: Underground 2. The stereo effect is not strong but noticeable. Especially beautiful are the menus and dials that hang in the air between you and the car. Unfortunately, numerous artifacts (light shadows again) counterweigh the advantages, so I can’t say that playing in the stereo mode is surely better.
- F.E.A.R. The stereo effect is weak while the doubling contours make the picture fuzzy and noisy.
- Team Fortress 2. The stereo effect is superb, the game indeed acquiring a third dimension. The visual effect of a rocket flying away from you can only be beaten by the effect of a grenade flying in. Unfortunately, the light-shadow artifacts make the image noisy, especially in action and in close combat with multiple enemies. It is hard to orient in space as the result. Explosions and smoke trails of flying rockets are most impressive. You instinctively shut your eyes when you spot a grenade flying at you but enemies and people from your team double too much when they are running near you. I set the Separation parameter at 100% for this game to achieve the feeling of spaciousness.
- Heroes of Might and Magic V. A third dimension can do a lot for a strategy, too. It seems that you are looking from above at real toy houses, trees and mountains and a small toy knight standing among all that. The feeling of spatial depth and direction of sight is very real but the game is spoiled by two things. First, it is the above-mentioned artifacts (even though they are no so critical in a strategy than in a dynamic shooter). Second, the caption with the number of live warriors in a unit hang closer to the gamer than the unit itself. So you have to focus your eye on the unit and caption alternately. This is the game’s, not the monitor’s, problem, yet it’s a problem anyway.
I stopped my tests at that as I saw the trend quite clearly. The stereo mode worked normally (in every of the mentioned games) but was accompanied with noticeable artifacts that made gaming uncomfortable.
I can illustrate this with two series of photographs of the screen captured during my play in Far Cry. The first photo is each series is the monitor’s screen as it is. The second photo shows the same scene through one lens of the eyeglasses, and the third – through the other lens.
As you see in the first photo, the monitor really displays two images at once, showing the game world from two different points of view. The picture looks a fuzzy mess to an unaided eye.
The second photo shows the same screen for the left eye. There is one picture now, but not quite… You can see elements of the second picture, too: the red silhouette of the hand with the rifle, the white outline of the palm tree, and the blue outlines of the buildings. Thus, the left eye sees its picture and also a ghost of the picture intended for the right eye. Moreover, the picture has become warmer. This effect is not due to the camera’s settings as I processed all the photos with the same point of white.
The third photo shows the picture for the right eye. Again, there are traces of the other image, and the colors are now colder than the original ones! In other words, the eyeglasses bring distortions into the monitor’s color reproduction.
So, the overall result is unsatisfactory. Although the monitor gives you a depth of space, it also produces numerous artifacts that show up as shadows around both distant and close objects. As a result, you should not look at the weapon in your hands at all in Far Cry, for example. The picture gets noisy, making it hard to aim. And the eyes get tired in half an hour of play.
Right now the developers at the iZ3D forum report about a new model of the eyeglasses that should solve the mentioned problems. Judging by the latest posts, this model is ready to be released. I hope the improvements will be significant. The 3D image in games is indeed very impressive. If the iZ3D gets rid of the artifacts, it will be a most interesting product for every gamer.