This year tech companies went over the top to shove 3D into everybody’s homes, offices and pockets. 3D’s is not really terrible. It has its flaws, but it’s getting better with every month.
Leading the 3D revolution are obviously Sony, Nintendo and Toshiba. No other consumer electronics companies have bet as much on 3D as these, so don’t be surprised to see more than a few of their products make our list of 15 3D gadgets that are worth your money this year.
HTC EVO 3D smartphone
If you’re looking for a great glasses-free 3D smartphone, it doesn’t get more solid than HTC’s EVO 3D. It rocks a huge 4.3-inch display with a 960×540 resolution, 1.2GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, twin five-megapixel cameras on the back, runs Android 2.3 and operates on Sprint’s 4G network. Should Sprint not be your preferred carrier you can always go with AT&T’s $100 LG Thrill 4G.
Sony Personal 3D Viewer HMZ-T1
Virtual reality goggles never really took off because they were silly looking, they generated headaches and they were expensive. The Personal 3D Viewer isn’t really VR, but it’s a step towards jacking into the matrix and never having to come out ever again — except for food and, hopefully, showers. These goggles project a virtual 150-inch display as if you were standing 12 feet away from it. You’ll still look dweeby wearing it on your head, but at least you’ll be enjoying Blu-rays and PlayStation 3 games in 1280×720 resolution and virtual 5.1 surround sound without requiring a room full of gear.
Given how powerful today’s smartphone cameras are, you’d think point and shoot cameras would be dead, right? Well, they will be, but there’s still time to squeeze in some 3D before every smartphone gets dual cameras. The Lumix DMC-3D1 delivers ultra-wide angle photos with its 25mm optical zoom and 1080p HD video. The beauty is how each camera can function on its own as well. For instance, you can record video with one lens and take photos with the other — at the same time! It’s like holding two cameras at once.
PlayStation 3D Display
With the PS3 this year, Sony’s really pushed developers to program 3D into their games in order to differentiate them from the Xbox 360 versions. And Sony knows that 3D TVs are expensive, which is why it’s easing in everybody with the PlayStation 3D Display. For half a grand, you get a starter kit that includes a 24-inch 1080p HD display that does 3D with one button, a pair of active shutter glasses, a copy of MotorStorm Apocalypse and an HDMI cord. Sure, it’s a little small, but it does have a very neat feature: SimulView — a mode that lets two players see their own private 2D fullscreens (with 3D glasses on) during multiplayer without splitting the screen into halves.
Sony 3D Binocular Camcorders
Its genius: why creep around recording things in 3D when you can just pretend you’re a bird watcher documenting nature? Nobody will be suspicious of you! Sony’s DEV-3 and DEV-5 binoculars not only let you record HD video in 1080p, but give you a powerful 10x and 20x zoom and GPS geotagging capabilities. And you can walk around looking like Luke Skywalker on Tatooine!
HP TouchSmart 620 3D Edition
Whether you’re a gamer or just want to enjoy 3D movies or photos, the TouchSmart is about as friendly as a PC can get with 3D and a touchscreen. The TouchSmart 620 has a brilliant 23-inch HD display that reclines 60 to 180 degrees — for arm comfort when using the touchscreen.
Nissho’s 52-inch Glasses-free 3D TV
When it comes to 3D, smart shoppers will argue that you either go big or go home. 3D movies impress in a movie theater because of the massive screen. Nissho’s 52-inch 3D TV ditches the glasses and gives you a 1080p picture, 8ms response time and 60Hz refresh rate, but it’s going to cost you an arm, a leg, or the equivalent of a new car.
Nvidia 3D Vision (PC)
Before 3D moved into every consumer electronics, its home was on the PC — for the enthusiast —the most hardcore technology adopter. PC games supported 3D years before Sony started slapping it on every major PS3 game. Nvidia hasn’t forgotten, that’s why 3D Vision glasses are cheaper than ever but won’t give you a migraine. Each pair comes with a super thin 10-foot cable, but as our smart readers have said before, who really moves their head that much when they’re sitting at a PC? $50 more gets you a wireless pair.
Toshiba Qosmio F755 Glasses-free 3D Laptop
This is the first glasses-free 3D laptop — no “sheets” and no 3D glasses. For your hard-earned cash, you get a large and bright 15.6-inch 1920×1080 resolution display (it drops to 1366×768 in 3D mode), Blu-ray drive, second-gen Intel Core i7 processor, and 750GB hard drive, 6GB of DDR3 RAM, three USB 2.0 ports and a USB 3.0 port for good measure. It’s quite a beast.
The 3DS’s successor started off slow. At $250 it was considered too expensive for a Nintendo handheld. What a difference eight months makes. With the lower $170 price, stronger first-party games from Nintendo such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Super Mario 3DLand and Mario Kart 7 (on December forth) and a software update that’ll add 3D video recording and Hulu Plus, the 3D looks to be a much better handheld than it was earlier in the year.
Sony Glasses-free 3D Laptop “Sheet”
Times are tough and not all of us need 3D. For when you do want to enjoy some 3D content, glasses-free is a nice way to go, especially when you’re dealing with a short distance like with a laptop. Installing Sony’s lenticular “sheet” is easy — simply places it over your Sony Vaio S laptop, open up a 3D movie or game and that’s it. Where’s the easy button when you need it?
Toshiba TL515U LED 3D TV
High-end 3D TVs can cost over $2,500. Toshiba’s LED (read: thin) 3D TVs are all 1080p resolution, have built in Smart TV functions, work with passive glasses (like those freebie 3D glasses), have four HDMI ports and a sweet “TriVector” 2D to 3D conversion mode that can sort of force 2D content into 3D (it even works with the YouTube widget). I say “sort of” because sometimes it works and sometimes it just splits a 2D image into two overlapping ones — so when you put on the 3D glasses, it just goes back to 2D. Either way, these 3D TVs are some of the most affordable that are still able to produce a very good picture.
There already are 3D smartphones, so why not tablets? LG seems to be the only major electronics company with the balls to release a 3D tablet. The G-Slate has an 8.9-inch screen (which is really the sweet size for tablets), dual-core processor and 32GB of storage. The twin cams on the back can pump out 1080p HD video (720p in 3D) and there’s an HDMI port to output 3D footage to a 3D TV as well. The only real downside is that G-Slate doesn’t do glasses-free 3D like the Thrill 4G smartphone. You’ll need 3D glasses to see the eye-popping media.
Gucci 3D glasses
Those cheapo RealD 3D glasses you get with the purchase of a 3D movie are crappy because they’re worth about 50 cents. Want a decent pair of passive 3D glasses that look good, feel comfortable and have lenses that won’t break with a finger poke? You really can’t get classier than these Gucci 3D glasses.
Gunnar 3D Glasses
$225 is a lot to drop on a pair of passive 3D glasses (no batteries). We totally understand. That’s why Gunnar’s 3D glasses are the next best thing. Like real glasses frames, the Gunnar 3D eyewear lineup feels pretty good. The lenses are slightly curved so the 3D feels that much more effective, they’re light and best of all come in different prices to fit anybody’s budget. Warning: if you already wear glasses, these won’t fit over them. You’ll need to pop in contacts or just skip the prescription lenses and sit closer to the 3D TV.