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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:17 pm 
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I started thinking about this about a year ago after I bought and started using my LG Optimus 3D (P-925G) phone. The LG was nice as a display device, but it had been designed as a phone first. The price reflected the cost of the extra phone capabilities and the overly healthy profit margin of the phone company.

At the other end of the cost spectrum were the Nintendo 3DS and 3DS XL. It is widely believed that Nintendo subsidizes its game machines in order to earn more on accessory and game sales. As I write this, the 3DS XL cost only a little over $200 Cdn.

Apparently, 3D photo video display/playing devices ["frames"] have been available since around 2011-2012. I did not even look for them because such frames are unlikely to be upgraded with new capabilities. In fact sometimes they do not even get properly debugged. I would rather have an android device in particular because there have been 3D devices already (such as my Optimus 3D and the HTC Evo 3D) which means there is already a market for developers. More 3D Android devices can only add to this market which helps to build a viable sustaining ecosystem.

I do not know how much co-operation there has been between the companies so far (until now only LG and HTC) but the lack of "big announcements" and references to related standards means there is probably a long way to go. Video file formats are still just becoming established and standard video related programming "libraries" probably need work. In one case I have found third party software that worked when I expected it to fail. That was the MX Browser which, when used on the Optimus 3D, was able to play 3D "TV format" MP4 files correctly. But it was not able to play the Fuji W3 AVI formatted files, nor the Nintendo 3DS XL AVI formatted files.

As of Feb. 12, 2013, there is only one 3D Android tablet (the Gadmei E8-3D) with a 3D screen which has "sort of" arrived. While some people claim to have received them already, checking the vendor's website show that pre-orders are being taken for delivery in late Feb. 2013.

The following is the web page for the Gadmei:

GADMEI E8-3D Tablet [Accessed 20130212]

http://usb.brando.com/gadmei-e8-3d-tablet_p02992c051d015.html

The Gadmei has been "selling" for around $200 US.

A second Android tablet, the "Bosma E8" will apparently be coming shortly. Apparently the Bosma E8 tablet uses "parallax barrier" technology to achieve separation. "http://3d-tablet-pc.de/" estimates the price range being 170 to 200 Euros. As of 2013-02-13, this tablet is still not available.

The "Polaroid PMID701i" 1024 x 768 (10" screen) 3D Android tablet was announced around April 12, 2012 in Europe. Orders were being taken at 249 Euros ($328 US). Delivery was not stated.

See: http://eeepc.net/polaroid-readying-its-glasses-free-3d-tablet/

But when I searched for a product with this name it turned out to be a 7" normal 2D tablet. It could be the original report was mistaken or Polaroid changed their minds. Poloroid has, however, been selling a 3D digital camera in Europe.

LG's Other Approach:

In 2011, LG did sell a "3D tablet," but that was "3D" primarily because it included a dual lens 3D camera/camcorder rather than the display. The display was only capable of showing 3D using "anaglyth" technology (red-cyan glasses), the same as any other standard tablet computer. This is the opposite of what I suggest right now. There are enough cameras available. The TV manufactures are still restricting consumer 3D to the very rich who are willing to pay multi-thousand dollar prices for near theatre size installations. The high priced phones have probably been seen as an added "risk" by people already buying into new Android based phones. The Nintendo, with its 240 lines of vertical resolution, supporting only its own system specific video files, is too restricted in its capabilities.

Recommendation:

I think there is a ready market for tablet computers in the 300 - 400 price range capable of displaying 3D video and still images in good quality. I am defining "good" as being significantly better than the Nintendo 3DS XL -- which is not a huge task.

I would suggest that the Bosma be looked at carefully to see any weaknesses in its specification. However, since the product has not shown up yet, there is nothing that can be done in that way. There are video clips on Youtube, but I guess that those are of pre-production models, not in the hands of general public.

Instead, I suggest building off the experience of the phones and the Nintendo 3DS and XL.

Screen Size:

The 3DS LX uses a 800 x 240 screen which is 4 3/16" wide, 2 1/2" high, with a 4 7/8" diagonal (106.5 mm wide, 63.5 mm high with a 124.0 mm diagonal). Note that the horizontal pixel pitch is half the vertical pitch. The screen size ratio is about double the width of human eyes. Jumping to 8" 1280 * 800 leaves the possibility of uncovering new user issue specifically caused by the much larger size. I would suggest keeping the size closer to the same range as the Nintendo, bringing the resolution up to 1024 x 768, but at the Nintendo 3DS XL pixel pitch. The 1024 width would be about 136.5 mm (5.374") and the 768 height would be about 102.24 mm (4.025"). The diagonal for this 1024 * 768 screen would be about 6.71".

The reason for the 4:3 screen is because still photography still tends to be as much "vertical" as "horizontal", but a 3D parallax barrier screen can only display in 3D in a single orientation. If the screen is 3D in horizontal mode, it will not be 3D in vertical mode. So photographers will appreciate 3D screens with more height than is typical of 2D displays. Note that the biggest strength of "parallax barrier" technology is that the screen is when it is used as 2D screen it is a perfectly normal screen, which can be rotated to vertical or horizontal. If a 1280 resolution 3D screen device is brought out later, it would be better as a 1280 x 960 screen, or even better, a 1280 x 1024 screen.

Chipset:

The chipset I would recommend would be that used in the LG Optimus 3D, but at a higher speed. I do not know how close to the limit of the chipset the 3D rendering was taking, but 800 x 480 = 384,000 pixels. 1024 x 768 = 786,432 pixels, which is about double. It might be necessary to increase the specification of part of the chipset, though probably not to a level that would be difficult.

A 3D Camera?


I would not include a 3D camera, but if you do, then I suggest a baseline (distance between the focal axes of the lenses) in the 3.5 - 4.5 cm range. I understand why many cameras have come out with baselines narrower then 3.5 cm, but my experience with 3D products leads me to believe that the more one uses 3D, the less satisfactory the narrow baseline (2.5 cm) of the LG phone becomes and the more one appreciates having the 3.5 cm baseline in the Nintendo 3DS products.

I think that a 3D camera on a small tablet might be attractive for use for larger scale photography, such as outdoors scenery. Personally, I would not want to take out a tablet to shoot casual shots of a wedding or other indoor function, because because it would attract undesirable attention. A camera on a small phone, or a dedicated camera is more acceptable.

A better alternative than adding a 3D camera, particularly on a larger tablet, is to get in touch with one of the better OEM camera makers and contract a small run of "badged" Archos cameras. I would recommend the "Aiptek" cameras (one of their cameras was sold by Viewsonic for a while), or the "3DinLife" cameras (which are currently badged in Europe as Rollei or Polaroid).


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