True 3D in your home, on your PC; what kind of fresh madness is this? We've got our greasy paws on Zalman's 3D monitor (messing up the shiny display with mucky fingerprints and sophomoric drool); a technology that promises enhanced 3D gaming and mind-blowing video. I'm sure you can guess what's coming next; yup it's a damp squib.
The first few runs of a newish technology always make things tough for a jobbing hack; on one hand you've got the all possibilities that a new technology offers if it's embraced and on the other you've got the fact that the first few iterations will normally be a bit rubbish and over-priced.
Not ready for True 3D
Case in point, in the past we reviewed Philips' AMBX kit: a promising tech that, in the right hands and for the right price, could be a worthy addition to immersive gaming - just not yet. The same caveats stand for the 3D monitor 'revolution'; it could work brilliantly and provide some serious visual benefits for games. Unfortunately, right now it's totally reliant on NVIDIA's not totally reliable stereo image drivers. The only compatible Forceware driver you can use is the fairly geriatric 91.31, and that will only support the last generation of NVIDIA GPUs.
After wrestling with the installation and tweaking the drivers, we managed to get the bundled 3D video working impressively on Zalman's Stereoscopic player. More than images jumping out at you from the screen, the impressive thing is the sensation of depth that the moving images create.
Not a usable technology
Game-wise though, right now it's just not an usable technology. Gaming is generally what drives the constant refresh of GPU drivers and as such the latest titles usually need updates to make them play nicely with your graphics card. Because you're strapped to the corpse of the old drivers, most games will artefact like your GPU is melting, if they even run at all.
We had a vague approximation of true 3D in Quake 4, but the ghosting was rampant and textures winked in and out of existence with gusto, and even then the stereo visuals swallowed all the frame rates. Unreal Tournament 3 and Half Life 2 failed to get near the rendering pathways.
Should we find that a proper stereo driver hotfix is coming out, then the extra premium on top of the standard price of a 22-inch monitor may just be worth paying. Right now though, it's not a realistic solution for 3D gaming, no matter how cool we look in the polarised glasses that come with the screen.