Is 2010 the year for 3D TV, games and movies?

The introduction of 3D into your home means one thing to hardware manufacturers: the opportunity to sell more kit. The first thing you'll need is a new screen, and if 120Hz or faster displays seem costly, you should hold your breath when looking at the price of a passive 3D display.

The 46in JVC TV that Sky used to demonstrate its 3D content might be capable of 1080p and come with a pair of 3D glasses, but the £8,000 price tag is positively mouth-drying. Not only are you likely to need a new screen, but you might also need a new graphics card if your PC is looking a little long in the tooth.

All 3D games are rendered twice, thanks to the need for distinct left and right images. "It's quite handy for us that people want to play in this 3D environment," says Richard Huddy, ATI's Senior Developer Relations Manager. "The gaming situation clearly requires a great deal more horsepower, because essentially [the video card] is doing twice as much work."

There's even worse news if you're a console owner. Huddy says that while Sony and Microsoft are in the process of giving their PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles longevity by releasing new motion-sensitive controllers, neither has a future in 3D.

"The truth is, doubling the memory demand and the fill rate [would] overwhelm both an Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 at any respectable resolution," he says.

If Microsoft or Sony released 3D games for either console, Huddy says that it would be a "token effort". "You couldn't take any of the high-end games of the moment – Killzone, Halo 3 or anything like that – and run them in full 3D on those consoles. They don't have the horsepower," he warns.

Burnout 3 3d

However, a Sony spokesperson revealed to PC Plus magazine that "technological investigation" into 3D on the PlayStation 3 is underway, with a view to allowing gamers to play 3D games on the existing hardware.

For the time being, the best way to play 3D games is on a PC. Doug McConkey, a product manager at EA, claims that the PC is the best medium for dragging 3D into the consumer's consciousness. "The more platforms [3D] is on the better, but the PC has the potential to make it mainstream," he told us.

3D gaming on PCs

For now, PC users are at the forefront of the 3D revolution. Upgrading a monitor is cheaper than upgrading a TV set and, similarly, a graphics card can be replaced without the need for an entirely new system. 3D is even available on laptops.

The Acer Aspire 5738G, for instance, looks like any other mid-range laptop, but its bright 15.6in screen has a polarised filter that's similar to Sky's 3D system. Pop on a pair of polarised 3D specs and the ATI Radeon HD 4750 can render videos or games in 3D.

If anything, however, the Aspire underlines how new 3D really is, as well as how far it has to go before it becomes, in the words of an Nvidia spokesperson, "just there" – included by default in all consumer screens.

The demo material included with the laptop has an undeniable sense of depth, but vertical lines appear jagged and the laptop screen's viewing angles are so restricted that tilting the screen just slightly too far towards or away from you ruins the image.

3D isn't restricted to computers. Fujifilm raised eyebrows in July last year when it announced its twin lens, dual-CCD camera, the FinePix W1 3D. Like Sky's 3D cameras, the set-apart lenses capture the same picture from slightly different angles. Unlike the polarised 3D effects of Nvidia or Acer's solutions, however, the W1 relies on lenticular technology to trick you into seeing a 3D image.

Fujifilm 3d cameras

Lenticular technology places a ridged coating on top of an image to feed you different pictures, much like the apparently moving images occasionally found on the back of cereal packets. The W1's 2.8in screen displays two images at once, so depending on where you stand you'll either see a 3D image or a mishmash of two separate ones. The upside is that you don't need a pair of glasses to see a 3D image, but, as with Acer's 3D laptop, the technology currently feels a little rough and ready.

Lenticular technology's major downfall is that it's heavily dependent on your viewing angle, so you need to be almost exactly the right distance away from the screen, and viewing it at almost exactly the right angle, which can be difficult with a handheld device. The W1's price also smacks of early-adopter pocket-squeezing: at £400 it's more expensive than the far more luxurious – but 2D – Canon G11.