Available for around £140, the Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision Kit brings a unique 3D video game experience to your computer. The visual effect it produces in games is a fun gimmick, but, in some cases, the 3D effect is more distracting than entertaining. We wouldn't recommend the kit to hard-core gamers who value playability above all, but casual gamers may want to try it, provided they can swallow the relatively high price. When it works, the kit's 3D effect is very convincing. For us though, it just didn't work consistently enough to justify its price or warrant a stronger recommendation.
The Vision Kit comes with Nvidia's stereoscopic 3D glasses, a pyramid-shaped infrared emitter, two USB cables, a DVI-to-HDMI cable, a quick-start guide, a VESA three-pin stereo cable, two extra nose pieces, a storage pouch, a cleaning cloth, software and drivers, and a demo disc.
The glasses look like the kind of sunglasses you'd find on someone who doesn't pay much attention to the latest fashion trends. The frame of the glasses is a glossy black that, like the lenses, retains fingerprints very easily. The glasses fit comfortably on an average-sized head. With prescription glasses on, the Vision Kit glasses are slightly less comfortable, as they put downward pressure on the nose. Switching to a different nose piece may reduce the pressure.
On the right arm of the glasses, about halfway between the lens and the tip, is the USB port used to charge them. On the top side of the left arm are an LED and a power button. The LED indicates how much power is left in the glasses -- it glows green when there's enough juice to function, red when the battery is running low, and clear when the battery's dead. At full charge, the glasses should work for several hours.
The IR emitter's base measures about 51 by 51mm. It's meant to be placed on or near your computer monitor. On the front of the emitter is the power button, illuminated by a backlit green LED. On the back is a USB port for connecting it to a computer and a VESA stereo input for connecting to DLP high-definition televisions.
The Vision Kit requires Windows Vista and a Nvidia GeForce 8800, 9600 or later card, or a GeForce GTX 200 series card. You can check out the full requirements on the Nvidia Web site. The Web site also offers a free test so that you can determine if your set-up is 3D-ready. Currently, there are only two LCD computer monitors available that are compatible with the kit: the ViewSonic FuHzion VX2265wm and the Samsung SyncMaster 2233RZ.
The software set-up wizard performs a few eye tests to determine if your hardware set-up is compatible and that you have the correct drivers installed. After about 5 minutes -- if you pass the tests-- you're good to go.
When playing a Vision Kit-compatible game with the glasses on, 2D screens take on a subtle perceived depth. For example, when playing Unreal Tournament 3, your map and menu items look as though they are stickers, stuck to the screen, and the rest of the graphics -- characters, vehicles and so on -- look much further away.