In yer face stereoscopic 3D gaming, for a price
Review Late last year we were left somewhat underwhelmed with Acer’s attempt at a 3D laptop. The Aspire 5738DZG was underpowered, making 3D gaming nigh-on impossible. Now Asus has entered the fray, with the G51J 3D, which handles the whole 3D thing in a very different way.
Asus’ G51J 3D: combining 3D and raw power
Instead of using a polarised pair of specs, Asus has opted for Nvidia’s 3D Vision technology. Just as important, however, is that the G51J 3D is much more powerful under the bonnet, with an Intel Core i7 720QM 1.6GHz processor, 4GB of DDR3 memory and Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M all combining to provide far more oomph than Acer’s attempt. As you might expect, this also means it will set you back a fair bit - £1,699, to be precise.
It’s a fairly bulky piece of kit, measuring 375 x 265 x 41mm. The battery also pokes out from the rear, which is a shame since given the size of the laptop there should have been room to keep it in within the confines of the chassis.
The laptop’s styling is questionable. The lid looks like Wolverine has gone to town on it, with a large tear motif sitting in the middle. Asus has also deemed it necessary to adorn the chassis with lights – two strips on either side and a third on the lid – as well as illuminating its Republic of Gamers logo. Somewhat annoyingly, it’s not possible to switch these blighters off. Worse still, leave the laptop in standby with the lid closed and the two lights on the top will endlessly flash.
LEDs have been put to far better use with the backlit keyboard. A variety of brightness settings are available, including switching the backlight off altogether. The flexing exhibited by the keyboard isn’t quite so impressive, and both the Enter and arrows keys have been slimmed down in order to fit a reduced-size numeric keypad.
The backlit keyboard is a nice touch
Sat just above the keyboard is a touch-sensitive strip with three controls for disabling the touchpad, changing the power mode and activating the 3D engine. Two more traditional buttons sit alongside this strip – one’s the power button, the other loads the Linux-driven ExpressGate OS. Asus claims an eight-second startup time for ExpressGate, but it took us 30 seconds to go from a cold boot to a working browser window.
nice, but i hope things improve from this...
Particularly, I like how the shutterspecs have a non-laughable framerate now - but as one who was close to offering celebratory sacrifices to whichever small god was responsible when flickeriffic CRTs were washed away by rock steady LCDs, I hope we can re-double that. Anything much below 85Hz makes my eyes and head hurt after a while, and sub-72Hz is nasty. My only, thankfully brief encounters with 56Hz original SVGA were battles against near-unreadable text (monitor phosphors have FAR shorter persistance times than 50Hz TVs) and the 60Hz default was a bane.
No, it's not one of these stupid "powerline fields cook my brain" claims. Set me up a CRT and I will have a fairly good chance of guessing what the refresh rate is if it's between 37i and 75p. The flickering is visible and eventually causes irritation, much like the also-detectable 15.6kHz whistle from a TV tube. However there is an upper limit to what even the most hyperactive rods & cones will detect before their nerve impulses reach 100% duty cycle and the output is considered as "steady". Even with it right up against the eye (making the whole world flicker!) instead of only being a relatively small, distant screen, 120Hz Per Eye should do the trick. We have 200Hz TVs now, allegedly, for whatever good they're supposed to give against a 100Hz (or 50Hz 2D LCD), so it can't be impossible.
By the way, what causes the framerate to drop so? Is it because it's having to render two seperate scenes but not flip the buffer for either of them (except flipping between L & R of course) until both are updated to prevent mind-warping 3-dimensional "tearing"? Like, a 3D Vblank? If they're not doing this, then I see no reason why simply jittering the POV position left and right by a few inches for each drawn frame and dropping the result into a different buffer should be difficult.
Suppose what we need is some kind of SLI-type setup that can offer a reasonable guarantee of maintaining 60fps for each eye to keep up the illusion... well so long as you keep the detail levels down ;)
Finally why do we need to wait for special software to support this concept? Descent, Terra Nova and a few others have been supporting shutterspecs and other true-3D render methods since the mid 90s (ever since fully shaded & textured polys became a practical prospect) and the guys selling the devices allegedly had go-between drivers for a variety of other titles to retroactively enable it. Can't we do similar now? And where, goddammit, is my 3D, HD-movie-capturing digital camera?
External IR emitter?
Has Will asked Asus why the IR emitter for the glasses isn't integrated into the lid?
BTW, the alternating shutter glasses effectively have the fps of the display, as the odd-numbered frames display the left image, and the even-numbered the right.