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Fatal1ty Free: Zalman Drops Fatal1ty, Intros 3D Displays

No More Fatal1ty from Zalman

Zalman, the company which became well-known for its quiet, but efficient, cooling solutions has not only been improving its cooling product lineup, but also has started to introduce new products, e.g. 3D monitors that can be used in conjunction with Nvidia Stereo technology are shown at CeBIT 2007.

Computer case by Zalman with 3D glasses on top. Click to enlarge

A significant focus for the company in the past few years has been the market of hardware for video gamers. To tap the market of gaming hardware, the company hired Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendell and even released some new products under that brand-name, but this year the firm decided to terminate the agreement, probably due to necessity to assign relatively tangible funds on supporting the brand, which did not attract a lot of attention to the company’s actual products (and whenever a product is sold, hardware manufacturers have to pay royalties to Fatal1ty).

If last year Zalman displayed Fatal1ty-branded CPU and GPU coolers, a power supply unit and a computer case, then this year the company showed none of those devices, but demonstrated redesigned Fatal1ty computer case which has been re-branded into ZMachine.

Zalman Goes 3D

Besides its usual cooling devices, Zalman demonstrated a series of Zalman-branded monitors which are capable of displaying 3D images provided that special glasses are worn and Nvidia stereo driver is used.

3D display from Zalman. Click to enlarge

Unfortunately, the company does not provide any extensive explanation about how its stereoscopic technology works and the following is our guesstimate.

Nvidia driver offsets odd and even lines on the screen by n pixels to the right and to the left and displays them. Zalman’s monitor has a special coating that does linear polarization for every pixel (it spreads light vector from every screen pixel into two [or more] so that to interpret odd and even lines like they were under different angles) and then the glasses do circular polarization for each tip of the light vectors so that to they looked like circles and the brain would interpret the image as a volume one. Basically, Zalman’s approach is similar to autostereoscopic display approach with the difference that the Seoul, Korea-based company offers special glasses.

Zalman 3D stereo technology's working principles. Click to enlarge

Nvidia’s stereo technology is nothing new and has been known for many years now. It is pretty simplistic to explain, however, it is uncertain whether it is as simplistic to provide support for it, as the latest ForceWare driver that features technology is 91.31 (dated June 29, 2006).

The impression is fairly good: the stereo 3D actually works and can be seen. But the experience is not really extraordinary, as viewing angles for 3D on this monitor are 8-12° vertically and 90° horizontally, which essentially means that users should sit in front of their monitors still while watching movies or playing video games, as a movement in any direction would indisputably interrupt the stereoscopic 3D experience. Moreover, users who wear glasses (or have different kinds of issues with eyes) will not be able to use 3D stereo on such monitors.

Zalman will have three 3D monitor models – 19” with 1280x1024 resolution, 19” with 1440x900 resolution as well as 22” with 1680x1050 resolution – all based on TN+film matrixes with 300:1 luminance of white,1000:1 contrast ratio and 5ms response time.

Even though pricing of 3D monitors from Zalman may be considered as low compared to solutions from Sharp or Nec, e.g. Zalman’s 19” model should cost around $499, it is greatly overpriced compared to typical LCD panels of that size, which cost about $200 in the U.S.

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