Add 3D to Any HDMI-Capable TV or Projector

If you've invested thousands into an HDMI theater system for a home or business, you will soon have multiple options to preserve that investment and still go 3D. That's the promise from companies like Video Innovation Products (VIP), Just Add Power (JAP) and Optoma Technology.

Earlier this year, startup VIP announced a line of affordable 3D converters aimed at consumers. These will let 3D content be displayed on any HDMI-capable TV or projector. 3D-VIP so far is only shipping one of three planned products, the 3D Gamer converter, which costs $269 and includes the 3D glasses.

VIP's 3D-Gamer brings 3D to your gaming experience.

3D-Gamer takes HDMI 1.4(a) stereo 3D input and outputs frame sequential stereo 3D that can be understood by a 3D DLP projector. So, you can connect your PlayStation 3 console to the adapter and connect a 3D DLP projector to it and play 3D stereo games the size of your wall. DLP glasses are required. The units began shipping last month.

VIP's DLP glasses could use a little styling help from Oakley.

VIP promises two more converters, the VIP Displayer and the VIP Theater which are specifically designed to show 3D content from multiple video sources (games, BlueRay satellite/cable, Internet streaming) on an HDMI television. But the company has so far been tight-lipped about pricing and availability for these units. Enter JAP, a maker of video systems for the custom installer market, best known for bringing HDMI-over-IP to the market. It announced plans to introduce a high-end turnkey product based on the VIP converters.

JAP was demonstrating its high-end setup last week at the the Electronic House Expo, reports CEPro magazine. It plans to have that product ready for the commercial market in June ... ergo it seems likely that the less expensive underlying technology from VIP would be available about that time frame too.

JAP's new 3D converter system is dubbed 3D Manager and, like its other wares, is geared towards really big houses or commercial sites that have multiple televisions like sports bars. It hasn't announced pricing, but CEPro reports that $5,000 is a ballpark figure. Clearly not the kind of price an average consumer will want to pay to add 3D.

Still, the technology is interesting as a proving point for the VIP converters. JAP's 3D Manager works with the full range of 3D broadcast standard (Frame Packing, Side-By-Side, Top-and-Bottom) to deliver a Frame Sequential 3D experience with the matching 3D Glasses. It has three parts and, if you gagged at the ballpark price, consider that the initial turnkey package will include 9 pieces:

One Discover Encoder 

A pass-through device that converts the 3D source content to a 1080p or 720p signal that JAP promises is compatible with practically any existing HDTV or projector.  Using the RS232 interface, the custom installer is able to dynamically control various fine tuning functions such as Hz frequency (60/120), scaling, color processing, noise reduction, EDID response, etc.

Two Synch Nodes with two IR Emitters

These pass-through devices are placed in each room with an HDMI TV ready to also have the 3D video effect.

Four pairs of active shutter 60/120 Hz 3D Glasses

The company says that the distinguishing feature of its 3D Manager versus the stand-alone VIP box is the inclusion of an RS232 port on the Encoder to provide an automated way to eliminate any ongoing manual intervention. Apparently, initial reviewers of the VIP product say that sometimes the unit needs to be manually told to invert the forefront and background video streams. Not a biggie when you only paid a couple of hundred bucks for a unit, but if you paid a professional installer thousands, that's another story.

If you don't want to wait for any of the VIP technology, high-end or low, competitor Optoma Technology technically has its 3D-XL Projector Adapter on the market now, for $499. The 3D-XL is compatible with the several Optoma Projectors, and a few third-party projectors like Acer's H5360, BenQ's MP626 and MX750 ST, Viewsonic's PJD6251 and PJD6531W, and Vivitek's D510. However, there's no guarantee that you'll get the Optoma unit faster. The company has had notorious problems producing enough units to fill its orders and pre-orders. People have reported waiting for eight months for a pre-ordered unit.