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3D Laptop Screens | 3D Screen Technology

 3D screen technology


One of the many new and innovative steps in screen design is no doubt the foray by several well known brands, (Acer, Sony, and Sharp,) into 3D technology.

3D displays

How is the 3D effect achieved?

A 3D effect is achieved through the manipulation of light, which in turn exploits the brain’s rational perceptions. When a person is looking at an object in front of them, ordinarily, the left eye sees the object to its right, whilst the right eye sees the object to its left.  It is through the assimilation of this and an array of other information, that the brain is able to judge the distance of the aforementioned object. Now, let us consider that two identical objects, perhaps two triangles, are presented on a screen. In an ordinary setting, each eye would be able to fully see and ascertain the 2D qualities of both triangles. In order then to create the 3D illusion that the triangle possesses a dimension which can extend beyond the confines of the screen, one must devise a way in which each eye sees only a single object. This effect can be achieved through the use of polarizing light, or, more familiarly, through the use of 3D polarizer glasses. 3D glasses contain polarizing material which obstructs each eyes view of certain portions of the screen. In eliminating the crucial lines of light necessary to the brain in order to help it judge distance, depth and shape, it creates the illusion that the viewed object, for our purposes the triangle, exists in reality.  

Laptops with 3D displays: current innovations

The new F series models from Sony

These machines come equipped with screens (and 240 Hz active shutter glasses to polarize the light,) which allow you to watch crisp, uninterrupted 3D films and videos. Unlike earlier 3D models, The F series screens allow you to watch vivid visuals in relative comfort. However, despite this innovative step in 3D technology, the models exhibit a notable design flaw in that they don’t come complete with a gaming grade graphics card. Equally, whilst the models offer an optimum 3D viewing experience, there is in fact a limited amount of material available to watch. For example, Youtube’s 3D channel offers just 6000 clips and, without a Sky 3D or Virgin box there is only a limited range of appropriate Blu-ray discs to choose from. 

Prototypes of a new Sony Vaio model

The prototypes come equipped with a 3D button, and, as in the previous example, active shutter glasses, at the IFA electronics show. The prototypes utilised “frame sequential” technology in which images are rapidly produced to appeal individually to the right eye and then the left. These frames are also interspersed with blank screens which help eliminate the ordinary circumstances necessary to help the eyes and brain perceive and judge accurately, thus creating the 3D effect. In order to display 3D material in this manner, the prototypes must display video at 240 frames per second in order to keep up with the 3D rate of 60 frames per second. As the IFA show indicated, whilst many are still dubious about the application of 3D technology, it is a mode of design which is sweeping gradually across the entire electronics industry.

The Acer 5738DZG

Acer achieve the desired, (3D,) effect by superimposing a transparent polarizing filter upon the laptop screen which helps divide the visual information into images which appeal solely to the experiences of each eye, thus creating the 3D effect earlier described. However, if one looks at the screen straight on or the angle at which you are viewing the display is too wide, the 3D effect disappears. The models, as with the Sony laptops, also come equipped with active shutter glasses. However, when viewing 3D material through them, the results vary widely depending on the quality and type of material viewed. For example, the trailers and animations (some ready saved on the machine hard drives, others available for download,) specifically suited to this form of technology can be viewed in stunning quality due to the operation of TriDef 3D software. Such quality however is impaired if you wish to view ordinary video. Whilst TriDef 3D software is able to add a three dimensional effect to both ordinary videos and games, the overall effect achieved is fairly minimal and is not greatly improved by the use of the active shutter glasses which tend to dim out light and eliminate significant screen colour. Despite these designs flaws however, we must remember that this is one of the first models of its kind and no doubt, the innovative features it possesses will improve greatly with the assistance of time.  

Sharp's Actius RD3D notebook

This machine possessed a screen which could alternate between the standard 2D display and a stereoscopic 3D effect. This ability to alternate between different viewing modes lead Sharp to claim that the model and technology they had created was unique. Whilst models from other brands tend to require subtle changes to the screen surface, or the superimposing of extra material over the screen in order to produce the 3D effect, screens on Sharp machines are identical to those found on ordinary models. Instead of achieving the 3D effect externally, Sharp achieves it through the use of an internal LCD filter behind the screen which bends the angles of light used to illuminate the display. In this respect then, it is the machine that inwardly polarizes the material, the light on the right hand side of the screen moving through pixels to appeal to the right eye, and the light on the left hand side being bent to appeal to the left eye. The best 3D effects are achieved with the viewer seated approximately 21 inches from their screen. Movement from left to right however, is less effective. 


As is highlighted by the range of models described, 3D technology is, at present, an innovative design step which is spreading rapidly throughout the entire electronics market. Whilst the models here discussed exhibit individual design flaws and faults, they represent only the beginnings of an entirely new technological movement, the forerunners of the future.

Where can I find out more?

Further reading


Can any laptop display be made 3D?

Now, the 3D effect is not simply limited to computer screens specifically designed to suit that purpose. A Japanese company called, “Global Wave” has developed a new type of thin film, called Pic3D sheet, which can produce a 3D effect by being applied to a 2D display. The sheet utilities a a lenticular lens system which employs the use of several magnifying lenses, designed to display screen images from a variety of angles, thus producing the illusion of the 3D extension of viewed objects. Unlike the effect produced by parallax barrier slits which tend to obscure the images and light produced by the original 2D screen, Global wave assert that their Pic3D sheet, (and its associated technology,) aids the preservation of  90% of the screen’s original light and provides an optimum viewing experience, achievable at a variety of viewing angles. Global Wave intends to make such technology available for both standard laptops and iphones and ipads in the late summer. 

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