Ultra-D Glasses-Free 3D TV Hands-On Experience - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 118 Old 04-30-2014, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
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The future of 3D TV is glasses-free, and it looks like that future is right around the corner. That's because I have a prototype of an Ultra-D TV in my home for testing, and even though the technology is still in development, it works. Almost a full year has passed since I first saw Ultra-D from StreamTV Networks in person, during the 2013 CE week in New York City. At the time, the display—based on a 1080p panel—looked purely experimental. StreamTV's VP of sales, Leo Riley, told me that the technology needed a 4K/UHD panel to work properly. When I found out StreamTV is based out of Philadelphia (where I live), I asked if it would be possible for me to visit from time to time. As you can already guess, Leo said yes.

 

I have a working development sample Ultra-D TV in my studio

 

The first time I visited StreamTV Networks offices, it was because the company just received its first Ultra-D demo unit based on a UHD/4K panel. The difference between that display and the 1080p one I had seen a few months earlier was night and day, and you can read about my first impressions here. Suddenly, I was very excited about the potential of glasses-free 3D. That first prototype panel wasn't perfect, but it showed tremendous potential.

 

A few months later, Leo invited me back to the StreamTV Networks offices to see an updated version of Ultra-D. Thanks to a software update, image quality was so good that I thought to myself, "This technology is about ready for commercial release."

 

After that visit, I knew that Ultra-D was not vaporware. At CES 2014, StreamTV Networks had a sizable booth with an impressive display featuring a number of Ultra-D panels showing glasses-free 3D programming. Ultra-D was not the only glasses-free 3D at the show. Competing systems were on display from Samsung, Dolby, and Vizio, but Ultra-D looked the best.

 

Not long after CES, I asked if I could get my hands on a prototype Ultra-D TV to check it out in person. Happily, StreamTV Networks said yes and had a panel shipped to me last week. Now, I'm ready to put it through the paces by re-watching my library of 3D Blu-rays glasses-free!

 

The Ultra-D "development sample" TV and SeeCube processor arrive

 

The panel itself and the processor that drives it are both prototypes. Please keep that in mind as this thread progresses. The panel is a 46-inch UHD/4K TV with a single HDMI input and no picture controls. It is not representative of what a production-ready consumer product would be like. For one thing, it is impossible to properly calibrate the prototype monitor—the only two available controls are brightness and contrast. In addition, an external PC powers this prototype, whereas the final products will have a built-in processor based on a Qualcomm chip.

 

Kirk helps unpack the Ultra-D TV

 

First impressions

 

On my first day with the development-sample Ultra-D TV, I decided to check out Gravity 3D. I chose Gravity because it is a spectacular 3D movie that I've seen several times in the past months. For example, few weeks ago I visited Dolby's Manhattan offices to see Gravity in Dolby 3D—the theatrical version that requires glasses, not the new glasses-free 3D TV technology that Dolby is developing. The day after the Dolby demo, I also watched Gravity in 1080p passive-3D on my Vizio M3D550K. Thanks to its exceptional production values, Gravity will continue to serve as my primary 3D reference movie for 2014.

 

Gravity 3D (blu-ray) is full of eye-popping imagery, it is a great 3D reference disc

 

First things first—Gravity looked great in Ultra-D. The 3D illusion is quite palpable and seamless—I love how all the floating space hardware looks as if you could just reach out and touch it. The funny thing is what happened when I went back to my Vizio to re-watch a few scenes and compare the overall effect of passive-glasses 3D versus Ultra-D. Suddenly, passive 1080p 3D looked rough to my eyes; I could clearly see the loss of vertical resolution—it bothered me more than it ever has before. I also found that the sense of depth imparted by passive 3D was roughly equal to what Ultra-D achieved.

 

Before delving deeper into the 3D performance of Ultra-D, I want to take a minute to discuss using an Ultra-D monitor as a 2D display. Even though the Ultra-D panel I am testing is a 4K display, when operating in 2D mode (Ultra-D turned off), it looks like a 1080p monitor. It's still usable despite a bit of lag, but it certainly is not a full UHD/4K display in the conventional sense. It is not a dual-purpose device on which you would watch 2D most of the time and then occasionally turn on 3D mode. In their current manifestation, Ultra-D TVs are meant for watching 3D (or converted 2D) content on a regular basis. Please remember, since this is not a production TV, 2D performance parameters are subject to change.

 

After my first couple of days with the Ultra-D TV, I started to wonder if tweaking the settings would result in a superior viewing experience. After all, most TVs require adjustments to perform in an optimal manner, not just prototypes that use new technology. I will spare you the suspense—the answer is yes. In fact, the answer is emphatically YES!!! Using my computer as a source, I loaded up a series of high-quality 3D photographs. I used two controls, called 3D Factor and 3D Offset, to tweak the images on screen, until I found the range of parameters that produced the most natural-looking 3D. I found the 3D Factor control—which defaults to 100 on a scale of 0-200—needed to be set between 35 and 50 for content to look realistic. I also found it helpful to set 3D Offset to -10, which pushes the whole scene little bit further back into the screen. Once I had the Ultra-D TV dialed-in with the new settings, just about any content looked fantastic.

 

Finding the right 3D Factor is a crucial step; at higher settings, I continuously saw glitches in the 3D rendering—for example, a character's face that should be sharp would be blurry. Using optimized settings made those artifacts go away, which in turn made it easy to watch a movie in 3D (I checked out Man of Steel) or a TV show like Cosmos converted to 3D by the TV—that looked quite amazing. I can scarcely believe it how pleasing the 2D-to-3D conversion was during spaceflight scenes showing stars and planets and galaxies. Even Neil deGrasse Tyson looked properly proportioned and three-dimensional standing in his spaceship of the imagination. Ultra-D literally added a new dimension to the viewing experience!

 

With tweaked settings, Man of Steel 3D looked fantastic viewed in Ultra-D

 

My next experiment involved using my PC as a source and alternating between 2D and 3D. I spent an entire day using the Ultra-D TV as a computer monitor in 2D mode. It was a bit of a drag dealing with the lag, which is similar to what you find on a LCD TV that is not set to game mode. It's less than ideal for doing computer work or playing video games, but not unusable. Speaking of video games, I tried playing Need for Speed: Rivals, which looked fantastic in 3D, far better than the same game played in 1080p passive 3D. Unfortunately, the lag made me feel like I was a drunk driver in a game that requires lightning-fast reflexes. 3D videogames look spectacular on the Ultra-D monitor; I hope the latency issue will be resolved when the product finally comes to market.

 

Several AVS members have asked me to see how well an Ultra-D monitor works with video-editing software. I use Sony Vegas 12, which supports full-screen 3D previews, and I'm pleased to report that it works correctly with Ultra-D. I can see anyone who is interested in editing 3D video being very interested in this technology.

 

One of the coolest things I've done with the Ultra-D TV so far is to play music along with a real-time visualizer—I used Aeon from Soundspectrum. As abstract patterns morphed and pulsated to the beat, Ultra-D's algorithm took its best guess as to how the graphics should render in 3D. The effect was decidedly psychedelic; frankly, it was one of the most interesting tricks that I've seen any TV perform.

 

Ultra-D rendered Aeon's music visualizations in mesmerizing glasses-free 3D

 

I have a ton of additional testing to do during the short time that I have with this most intriguing TV. So far, my first impressions are very positive—I'm amazed at the progress that Ultra-D has made in the last year. I can't wait to check out some more movies in glasses-free 3D.

 


 

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post #2 of 118 Old 04-30-2014, 04:11 PM
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An interesting experiment would be to play a 2D bluray and watch the effect it applies and then to enable the Bluray Player's 2D->3D converter and then see if the TV interprets things differently. If the TV truly stays faithful to 3D sources (which it should recognize from the players 3D output) then I would expect that the 2D->3D performed by the player would look worse than the effect from when the player sends 2D to the tv to upconvert to 3D.
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post #3 of 118 Old 04-30-2014, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
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An interesting experiment would be to play a 2D bluray and watch the effect it applies and then to enable the Bluray Player's 2D->3D converter and then see if the TV interprets things differently. If the TV truly stays faithful to 3D sources then I would expect that the 2D->3D performed by the player would look worse than the effect from when the player sends 2D to the tv to upconvert to 3D.

 

Yes, I think I will do that! I have PowerDVD on my PC which auto-converts 2D to 3D, as does my Sony BDP-S5100—I'll compare them both. That's a great idea, thank you.


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post #4 of 118 Old 04-30-2014, 04:21 PM
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Thanks so much for taking the time for such in depth testing/viewing and sharing. Looking forward to more!
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1080p and lossless audio. EVERY BD should have them both.
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post #5 of 118 Old 04-30-2014, 05:20 PM
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Excellent review, I'm really excited by this glasses-free TV tech, as it could have a direct impact on my day-to-day job (working as a 3d gfx programmer doing videogames).

Can you do an input lag test as well? In 2D and 3D. That would be super. I'm curious about the built-in conversion lag, compared to displaying a native 2D image or a native 3D game.

Maybe I didn't read it properly, is the 2D to 3D conversion chip always on? Like, is it defeatable when 3D setting is turned off entirely?
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Also, is there any frame interpolation mode on this TV ? Like 24hz -> 60hz. Or does it accept 120hz input signal in 1080p, or 720p, from a 3DTV enabled HTPC via an NVidia 3D graphics card. It would be really cool to try a racing game in 3D on this, in 120hz.
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post #7 of 118 Old 04-30-2014, 05:36 PM
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Thanks for doing this for us, Mark. I'm really hungry for information on this display.

I'm assuming you set up the Ultra-D display as a single 3D editing monitor in Vegas, then switch to full screen to do 3D previews, right? If so, what resolution and frame rate do you use? Is there any sort of clarity issue with the 2D editing interface (such as text legibility)?

Also, could you talk about the "peek around" feature? That is, how far can you "peek around" an object (and how far can you move your head) until you reach the "peeking limit?" And then what happens?

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Mark graciously provided me with the opportunity to view this set a week or so ago at his place. While not a fan of 3D, I wholeheartedly concur that this set works very well. With a better quality 4K panel, I imagine that it will work even better. Are there still issues? Yes. For me, the biggest is that some of the objects are out of focus in the 3D field. I am sure that they will eventually be able to dial this issue in as well. UltraD is no doubt doing some very fine work here and seem to be way out ahead of the rest of the field. In fact, I can easily imagine that UltraD will eventually be the tech that wins out in the glasses free 3D field. Another fine review by Mark as always. it was quite an enjoyable afternoon.
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^ I think a couple dozen people are about to invite themselves over biggrin.gif
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RLBURNSIDE View Post

Excellent review, I'm really excited by this glasses-free TV tech, as it could have a direct impact on my day-to-day job (working as a 3d gfx programmer doing videogames).

Can you do an input lag test as well? In 2D and 3D. That would be super. I'm curious about the built-in conversion lag, compared to displaying a native 2D image or a native 3D game.

Maybe I didn't read it properly, is the 2D to 3D conversion chip always on? Like, is it defeatable when 3D setting is turned off entirely?

Mark can correct me if I'm wrong, but from the Scott Wilkinson Home Theater Geeks review it sounds like processing is always happening in an Ultra-D display. Part of creating a light field involves mapping sub-pixels in a very different way than other sets. That is, the red, blue and green sub-pixels of a standard pixel are being mapped to different screen locations for the left and right eye views, all in coordination with how the optical layers of the screen divert light. In order to do regular 2D, sub-pixels have to be remapped to create a flat image. In other words, red, green and blue sub-pixels that represents one normal pixel of a 2D image will still be coming from different sub-pixel locations on the screen. The processor "simply" figures out where they should be mapped to in order to get a 2D image. Whether the image is 2D or 3D, Humpty Dumpty has fallen and still has to be put back together again. The result: lag, and probably why 4K images won't be as highly resolved on an Ultra-D set. I can live with that for glasses-free 3D. (I watched Scott's interview a couple of times to come to this conclusion. smile.gif )
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Congrats Mark you've got the holy grail of 3D in your living room! Great write up, we all especially appreciate the pics and the short video. I think I'm going to skip on current traditional 4K offerings for the next few years at least as I'm not completely sold on them, and so hopefully I won't have to wait too long for one of these Ultra D sets to hit the market

I do have a question though, I'm a huge 3D fan and native 3D content via an active glasses tv setup doesn't bother me in the least, but converted material produces noticeable eyestrain on the same tv. So how was eyestrain with Ultra D after extended (hours of) viewing? Was it present at all or was it a total nonfactor? This is the big question to me since this tv is not made for regular 2D viewing and 3D conversion would likely be on for me at all times

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post #12 of 118 Old 04-30-2014, 07:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Congrats Mark you've got the holy grail of 3D in your living room! Great write up, we all especially appreciate the pics and the short video. I think I'm going to skip on current traditional 4K offerings for the next few years at least as I'm not completely sold on them,and so hopefully I won't have to wait too long for one of these Ultra D sets to hit the market. I do have a question though, I'm a huge 3D fan and native 3D content via an active glasses tv setup doesn't bother me in the least, but converted material produces noticeable eyestrain on the same tv. So how was eyestrain with Ultra D after extended (hours of) viewing? Was it present at all or was it a total nonfactor? This is the big question to me since this tv is not made for regular 2D viewing and 3D conversion would likely be on for me at all times

I will have a pretty complete answer for you in a few days. Yesterday I watched about an hour of 2D to 3D converted content and two hours of Man of Steel, which is a studio 3D conversion that Ulta-D treats as native. No issues with eye strain.
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Are there still issues? Yes. For me, the biggest is that some of the objects are out of focus in the 3D field. I am sure that they will eventually be able to dial this issue in as well.

Did you get to see it after Mark's 3D setting tweaks?
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post #14 of 118 Old 04-30-2014, 07:51 PM
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Is there anything preventing this method being used in a 4k projector based approach? Now that... would be cool. I still don't feel the sense of immersion in 3D without the screen reaching edge to edge of my peripheral vision.
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Is there anything preventing this method being used in a 4k projector based approach? Now that... would be cool. I still don't feel the sense of immersion in 3D without the screen reaching edge to edge of my peripheral vision.

 

I agree that a home theater with UHD/4K FP Ultra-D would be incredible. Mum's the word over at StreamTV Networks, I'll keep asking.

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How are the viewing angles on this set? Does the 3D effect work properly from a variety of angles?
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post #17 of 118 Old 04-30-2014, 09:49 PM
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awesome looking forward to more updates smile.gif

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Glad you found the modifier functionality. The best way to watch a 3D movie on my 46" Samsung is to increase the separation, which, like you said, pushes the scene back into the TV and i sit about 5ft away, having a 6.25cm IPD.

The reason for this is that in doing so the objects on the screen begin to match one of the other human depth cues, which is the size of objects in our field of vision. For example, when a full size human is in the scene from head to toe, if if they are placed at screen depth they then become the size of the display, whereas if they are pushed back into the scene, they can appear to be life sized, but just further back from you.

Its the only way to get holodeck-like 3D from a film, unless you increase the size of the display.

The input lag sounds unusable for gaming. Hope they fix that.
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I do have a question though, I'm a huge 3D fan and native 3D content via an active glasses tv setup doesn't bother me in the least, but converted material produces noticeable eyestrain on the same tv.
This is more evidence to me that eye strain is based not on the amount of separation(aka depth), but on the unreal way it is presented and constantly shifted around which each new scene. This might explain why i don't feel any strain after using 3D now for 2500 hours, but do feel it sometimes in movies, with much lower depth.


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I'm getting the impression that 3D is an all or nothing proposition. A new HDR 4K set with Ultra-D will have 1080P resolution at 3D or even dialed back to 2D. I could be that a viewer will learn to prefer this effect full time on the set, while others will not want to reduce the resolution and not purchase a set with the Ultra-D. Already I'm thinking that a set aside from my main set, in say 42" or 46" at a reasonable price, may be the route I take.

What Mark uncovers and writes will have a significant effect on my opinion and possibly the direction this technology takes owing to the following this site generates.
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While not a fan of 3D, I wholeheartedly concur that this set works very well. With a better quality 4K panel, I imagine that it will work even better.
In addition to superior panels, I wonder if the input lag could be reduced by using faster and faster Qualcomm SoCs, for instance the Snapdragon 805 or Snapdragon 810 instead of the Snapdragon 800 that this will presumably be coming to market with (as per the initial announcement).

I, dabotsonline / Nicholas Polydor, am part of Panasonic UK's 'VIERA VIP Club': a group of six bloggers and forum posters receiving all-expenses-paid trips to company and trade events (but no cash) in order to receive tailored information on the TV product range to then disseminate in an organic and authentic manner. However, I can assure that this will never compromise my integrity or objectivity as an ethical conscience is something I have always and will forever hold very dear to my heart.
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Originally Posted by tory40 View Post

This is more evidence to me that eye strain is based not on the amount of separation(aka depth), but on the unreal way it is presented and constantly shifted around which each new scene. This might explain why i don't feel any strain after using 3D now for 2500 hours, but do feel it sometimes in movies, with much lower depth.

Yes people sensitive to the shutter effect on some tv's complain of headaches etc. even with native content, but I am not affected by that aspect. I can watch native (or studio conversion) 3D blu on an active setup for hours and be fine. It's just when it comes to using my Samsung's 2D-3D conversion that the eyestrain and headaches are introduced and more likely to occur (the longer you watch) hence my concern

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post #23 of 118 Old 05-01-2014, 05:56 AM
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I wonder when the reports about seizures will come out...

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I'm getting the impression that 3D is an all or nothing proposition. A new HDR 4K set with Ultra-D will have 1080P resolution at 3D or even dialed back to 2D. I could be that a viewer will learn to prefer this effect full time on the set, while others will not want to reduce the resolution and not purchase a set with the Ultra-D. Already I'm thinking that a set aside from my main set, in say 42" or 46" at a reasonable price, may be the route I take.

What Mark uncovers and writes will have a significant effect on my opinion and possibly the direction this technology takes owing to the following this site generates.

 

I'm going to have a talk about 2D usage with StreamTV Networks later today, I'll have an update.


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Originally Posted by Ashley Seymour View Post

Already I'm thinking that a set aside from my main set, in say 42" or 46" at a reasonable price, may be the route I take.
Yes, what's interesting is that Stream TV in the US have kept saying that 4K Ultra-D TVs will be coming to market in 50" and 55" sizes from several manufacturers using unknown panels (the only detail has been that they're Full Array Local Dimming), and with the processing integrated with the internal Qualcomm 8074 chipset. Yet their SeeCubic subsidiary in the Netherlands have sent Mark a 4K 46" prototype screen with processing from an external box, but have not indicated either the manufacturer of the screen or the panel, or whether they will be the same as retail units. Stream TV have spoken vaguely that the Ultra-D technology will be featured on smartphones, tablets and monitors in the future (but no mention on whether the technology is compatible with OLED panels which, of course, don't require a backlight full stop). And it seems that this 46" screen is exactly that: a monitor rather than a TV. A single HDMI input (presumably HDMI 2.0, and with HDCP 2.2 compatibility) but with no on-board smart TV functionality or H.265 / HEVC decoding. This is favourable to me as it would keep the price of the screen down, and I agree with Ashley that these 46" and 42" sizes are what their partner manufacturers should be pursuing.

I, dabotsonline / Nicholas Polydor, am part of Panasonic UK's 'VIERA VIP Club': a group of six bloggers and forum posters receiving all-expenses-paid trips to company and trade events (but no cash) in order to receive tailored information on the TV product range to then disseminate in an organic and authentic manner. However, I can assure that this will never compromise my integrity or objectivity as an ethical conscience is something I have always and will forever hold very dear to my heart.
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post #26 of 118 Old 05-01-2014, 07:41 AM
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Great review, excited for the updates! I want ultra D to becomes popular and addictive to the consumer and hopefully it will also pave the way for motion holography and glass free 3D projectors in the future!

By the way does stream networks have a demo room for the general public? I am flying to Philly next weekend and would love to get a demo!


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post #27 of 118 Old 05-01-2014, 09:16 AM
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For Ashley Seymour and others who are interested in having an Ultra-D screen in addition to their main, what's useful is that, of the new Pioneer AVRs that Mark wrote about recently, the $600 VSX-1124 / VSX-1124-K and $700 Elite VSX-80 have two HDMI 2.0 2160p60 18Gbps outputs ( http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/StaticFiles/PUSA/Images/Product%20Images/Home/VSX-1124-K_Back.jpg / http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/ephox/StaticFiles/Manuals/Home/VSX-1124-K%20Single%20Sheet_v3.pdf / http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/StaticFiles/Manuals/Home/VSX-1124-K_OperatingInstructions032014.pdf ). This is great because, as far as I'm aware, there are currently no HDMI 2.0 2160p60 18Gbps splitters or matrices on the market.

I, dabotsonline / Nicholas Polydor, am part of Panasonic UK's 'VIERA VIP Club': a group of six bloggers and forum posters receiving all-expenses-paid trips to company and trade events (but no cash) in order to receive tailored information on the TV product range to then disseminate in an organic and authentic manner. However, I can assure that this will never compromise my integrity or objectivity as an ethical conscience is something I have always and will forever hold very dear to my heart.
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post #28 of 118 Old 05-01-2014, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Suddenly, passive 1080p 3D looked rough to my eyes; I could clearly see the loss of vertical resolution—it bothered me more than it ever has before.
Well, duh wink.gif I've never understood how you passive 3d fans have ever tolerated that. Don't know if it's a difference in vision or perception but I watched a passive 3d demo for about two seconds and saw the inferior resolution as clear as day. And the buddy that was with me was really impressed. Go figure.

Ultra-D sounds pretty intriguing. However, I'll, uh... have to check it out for myself before I get too excited smile.gif
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post #29 of 118 Old 05-01-2014, 12:00 PM
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Thanks so much for the initial impressions! With a display like this, is it possible to actual pause a scene and record the paused screen on video while moving slightly side to side so that we can see what the effect is like? That would be amazing if you could.

We'll look forward to hearing more!
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post #30 of 118 Old 05-01-2014, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McGriddle View Post

Thanks so much for the initial impressions! With a display like this, is it possible to actual pause a scene and record the paused screen on video while moving slightly side to side so that we can see what the effect is like? That would be amazing if you could.

We'll look forward to hearing more!

This is an excellent idea!!! I know Don Landis has recorded 3D demos at trade shows (from regular glasses-based 3D displays, and maybe even Ultra-D) with his specially outfitted Sony TD10 (using dual polarizing filters). It seems to me that it should be possible to shoot an Ultra-D screen with a normal 3D camcorder and record the 3D directly. It wouldn't be really high quality, but it's probably as close as I'm going to get to actually seeing the "peek around" feature in the foreseeable future.

If you don't have a 3D camcorder, Mark, I could ship you one of mine to try the experiment. Depends on whether there's enough time left during your review period. If you're interested. just let me know and I'll get it to you fast.

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