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NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision Glasses
Date: Jan 08, 2009
Author: Marco Chiappetta
Introduction and Specifications

NVIDIA Accelerates the Search For a Cure

Back in August of last year, at the NVISION visual computing conference in San Jose, NVIDIA publicly demonstrated some new stereoscopic 3D technology. While stereoscopic 3D in and of itself is not new, the devices on display at NVISION were, and featured new hardware, monitors, wireless glasses, and software. At the event, the technology was demoed on a Mitsubishi 73-inch 3D Ready 1080p-capable DLP television and new ViewSonic 120Hz LCD monitors using a number of popular games. We got the chance to play a few games ourselves back then and watched some others play as well, and thought the effect was excellent.

Fast forward to today, and NVIDIA is ready to officially take the wraps off of their stereoscopic 3D technology, which is now known as GeForce 3D Vision. NVIDIA's GeForce 3D Vision product consists of a pair of wireless, rechargeable glasses, a base station / IR transmitter, and the necessary software and cables to connect the device to a PC. However, it needs some other specific hardware to function properly as well--namely a compatible monitor and graphics card.

The specifications and main features of NVIDIA's new GeForce 3D Vision glasses are posted below, but we've got many more details on the pages ahead. Take a look... 

NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision Glasses

NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision Glasses
Specifications & Features

Minimum system requirements

  • Microsoft Windows Vista 32-bit or 64-bit
  • Intel Core2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2 CPU or higher
  • 1GB of system memory. (2GB is recommended)
  • 100 MB free disk space

Compatible GeForce 3D Vision-Ready displays devices

  • Desktop Monitors
    • Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ 120 Hz LCD display
    • ViewSonic FuHzion VX2265wm 120 Hz LCD display
    • 100 Hz and higher analog CRT
    • Mitsubishi 1080p DLP Home Theater TV: WD-57833, WD-60735, WD-60C8, WD-65735, WD-65736, WD-65C8, WD-65833, WD-65835, WD-73735, WD-73736, WD-73833, WD-73835, WD-73C8, L65-A90
    • Generic DLP Home Theater TV supporting 3D checkerboard pattern format
  • Projectors
    • DepthQ HD 3D Projector by LightSpeed Design, Inc.

Supported Microsoft DirectX Games:
View the complete list of certified games please vistis the NVIDIA
3DVision website.

Compatible NVIDIA GeForce GPUs:

  • GeForce GTX 200 Series
    • GeForce GTX 295, GeForce GTX 285, GeForce GTX 280, GeForce GTX 260
  • GeForce 9 Series
    • GeForce 9800 GX2, GeForce 9800 GTX+, GeForce 9800 GTX, GeForce 9800 GT, GeForce 9600 GT
  • GeForce 8 Series
    • GeForce 8800 Ultra, GeForce 8800 GTX, GeForce 8800 GTS, GeForce 8800 GT

GeForce 3D Vision Kit includes:

  • One pair of GeForce 3D Vision glasses with storage pouch, adjustable nose pieces, and microfiber cleaning cloth
  • GeForce 3D Vision USB controller/IR emitter
  • Custom 5’ VESA stereo to 2.5 mm stereo audio plug cable
  • 10’ DVI to HDMI cable
  • 10’ USB 2.0 type A to 5-pin mini-B cable
  • 6’ recharge cable (USB Type A to 5-pin mini Type B)
  • Quick start guide
  • Installation CD & Demo Disc


As you can see, the system requirements for GeForce 3D Vision are not very high--a modern dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and Windows Vista are necessary, along with a compatible GeForce graphics card in the GeForce 8- 9- or GTX200-series. Finding a compatible monitor is a different story though. Any CRT capable of a 100Hz refresh rate (or higher) will work, as will a number of 3D capable HD televisions and projector. As for LCD monitors, only certain, true 120Hz capable displays will work.

Viewsonic and Samsung 120Hz LCD Displays

GeForce 3D Vision Kit

NVIDIA Accelerates the Search For a Cure

As we've already mentioned, the NVIDIA GeForce 3D Vision kit consists of rechargeable 3D shutter glasses, an infrared emitter / base station, cables, software and a few handy accessories. 


Let's start with the glasses. Dare we say, the first thing you'll notice is that they're more stylish than most of the other 3D glasses out there (remember ELSA's 3D Revelators? Yikes.). There's a power button and indicator LED on the top of one side (visible at the upper-right in the image above), and a USB port on the underside. The USB port is used to charge the glasses, which can operate for about 40 hours between charges. 40 hours of use should be plenty for a couple of days of gaming--that is unless you're a marathon gamer that never sleeps.

The GeForce 3D Vision glasses work by blocking the light to alternating eyes. Each lens is essentially a monochrome LCD display that can be turned on or off. When off, light can pass though; when on, it cannot. This effect allows only certain frames in a game to be viewed by each eye, and each alternating frame is slightly offset, which in turn is perceived by our brains as a 3D image. Much in the same way our eyes actually work. We should note that the glasses provide better viewing angles and resolution than most passive glasses, through the use of higher-quality optics. 


To accompany the glasses, NVIDIA includes a couple of additional nose-pads, a carrying case, and a micro-fiber cloth for safely removing fingerprints, etc. A pair of USB cables are includes as well (not pictured) for charging the glasses and for connecting the base to a PC, as is a driver CD with some sample imagery. A DVI to HDMI cable is included as well, along with a VESA 3-pin stereo cable, to accommodate certain televisions.

Which brings us to the base station / IR emitter. The IR emitter is used to sync the glasses to whatever is being displayed on screen. The emitter transmits data directly to the wireless shutter glasses, within a 20 foot radius. The emitter also features a real-time 3D depth adjustment dial on its back. This feature is crucial for those that tend to get pseudo-motion sickness using stereoscopic 3D glasses like these. Turning the dial alters the 3D effect, which can help uses more easily get acclimated to wearing the glasses.

Installation and Examination

NVIDIA Accelerates the Search For a Cure

 Installing and using the GeForce 3D Vision glasses is very easy. Assuming you've got a compatible GeForce graphics card and monitor, the process requires connecting the base / IR emitter to a PC, installing the necessary drivers (which are integrated into NVIDIA's GeForce drivers), and running through a setup wizard.

There is nothing out of the ordinary to consider when connecting the base to a PC, other than to ensure the base has a clear line-of-sight to the glasses. The infrared signal emitted from the base needs to be picked up by a receiver in the glasses to keep everything in sync. 

As we've mentioned, the base itself has a thumbwheel on its backside that's used for real-time adjustment of the 3D depth effect. There is also a power indicator light, USB connector, and a VESA stereo cable port on the back. On the front of the emitter, there's an On / Off button that's backlit and shows whether or not stereoscopic 3D has been enabled. An NVIDIA logo on the button glows bright green when 3D is enabled and a dim green when it is not. 

The glasses are fairly streamlined with only a power / charge indicator LED and power button on one side and a USB charging port on the other. At the front edge of the glasses is a tiny IR receiver, which again is used to sync with the base / system. And the interchangeable nose-guards snap right on and off the glasses. 


The software setup is very straightforward. Install the drivers, and a few icons will be placed on the desktop. Run the setup wizard, which runs users through a series of test screens, and you're basically done. The glasses work with over 350 Direct3D games, which are automatically detected via the drivers. There are profiles within the drivers for each game, similar to SLI profiles. The GeForce 3D Vision profiles, however, store information on compatible games and recommended settings. Launch a compatible game, for example, and an overlay will come up on-screen with recommended image quality and in-game settings to get the best 3D effect.

Our Thoughts and Conclusion

NVIDIA Accelerates the Search For a Cure

We can't show you exactly what NVIDIA's GeForce 3D Vision stereoscopic glasses do to a game, because you obviously must be wearing the glasses the experience the 3D effect. But we did shoot some quick video to show you what's being displayed on-screen when gaming in 3D.

This video shows Unreal Tournament 3 and Half Life 2: Episode 2 being played in 3D mode, with a FRAPS framerate counter being displayed at the upper-left. We switch from 3D mode, to normal mode, and back to 3D mode on-the-fly to illustrate what's being shown on screen and how it affects framerates in a couple of games. Please keep in mind, that there are a myriad of factors that will determine the ultimate performance of a game running in 3D stereo mode, including the speed of the graphics card, refresh rates, the CPU, image quality settings, etc. However, a good rule of thumb is that a game that runs with acceptable framerates, should play well in 3D stereo mode. If a game chugs along on your PC in normal mode, it's only going to get worst in 3D stereo mode.


Having played games like UT3, Call of Duty, GRiD, Left 4 Dead, HL2:EP2, and Spore in 3D stereo mode with the GeForce 3D Vision glasses, we can say that the effect produced by the glasses is quite realistic. In our opinion, the effect is most impressive when there are some static elements on screen, like when looking through a sniper scope for example. And while shooters looked great in real-3D, RTS games truly change for the better in 3D stereo mode. Spore is a different animal altogether when playing with GeForce 3D Vision.  It's literally a game-changer, in a very good way.

We should note that NVIDIA's GeForce 3D Vision glasses are not only for playing games. They also fully supports 3D video players such as 3dtv Stereoscopic Player, which gives users the ability to view fullscreen 3D movies. The GeForce 3D Vision glasses also allow users to take in-game screenshots and view them in stereoscopic 3D with a free photo viewer. In addition, users can import and view stereoscopic pictures from a variety of different capture sources and online stereoscopic enthusiast websites as well.

At $199, in addition to the cost of a suitable monitor if necessary, NVIDIA's GeForce 3D Vision glasses are not for everyone. But should you be in the market for such a product, NVIDIA's solution is about as good as they come. Getting 40 hours of use between charges is great, and the on-the-fly 3D depth adjustment makes getting acclimated to the effect relatively easy on the eyes. The fact that 3D just works with hundreds of games right out of the box is the icing on the cake.


  • 40 Hours of Use From a Single Charge
  • Compatible with 350+ D3D games
  • Excellent 3D Effect
  • Painless Install
  • Requires Specialized Monitors
  • No OpenGL support
  • Expensive

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