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i3D's glasses-free prototype screen aims to take on all of 3D's problem areas

Joanna Stern
03.25.10
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Uncomfortable, expensive glasses and a lack of 3D content -- that'd be the short list of stuff we dislike about current 3D TVs, but coincidentally it also happens to be the exact issues i3D is determined to wipe out with its glasses-free technology. We stopped by to meet with the young, Los Angeles-based company last week, and though it obviously isn't the first to develop spec-less displays, its proprietary hardware and software combo was really impressive. The demo of a 7-inch prototype really tells the whole story -- and we encourage you all to see it for yourself in the video after the break, though obviously you won't be able to experience all three dimensions from your standard LCD. Our time screen-gazing was pretty breathtaking, even though the smaller display was far from immersive. As for the viewing angle issue that's the Achilles' heel of the others, i3D claims its technology allows for three-dimensional viewing at close to 90 degrees, though it was hard for us to really evaluate that on such a small screen.

The coolest thing by far is the software's ability to convert 2D to 3D content on the fly. One second we were watching a two-dimensional clip of Cars and then with the tap of the 3D button the car was driving off the screen. While this isn't the first company dabbling in 2D conversion, we haven't seen any others doing this without the glasses, and i3D does claim it can convert any resolution programming. We'll have to see it to believe it, but if it does work and the quality lives up to what's being promised there'd go our lack of content issue! Apparently the price of the technology should add at most 20 percent to that of a current HDTV, but here's where we tell you that we wouldn't be surprised if it took years for all this technology to make into Best Buy's Magnolia Home Theater section. Given the fact that we met with the company in a backyard, we'd say that both it and its technology are in the early stages. But hey, it makes you feel better that someone is working on that 3D frustration list, right?

Gallery: I3dtek prototype hands-on | 24 Photos


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