Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Console Mini-Post Of The Week: Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo announced a 3D DS today. Seriously.

No glasses.

Details are sketchy, although Engadget seems to have the most details
Asahi in Japan offers the first word on how the 3DS achieves its 3D-ness by suggesting that the new portable game machine with feature a parallax barrier LCD from Sharp. The tech has apparently already been deployed in a few cellphones over there and is described as "unsuitable" for large-screen TVs.

The "parallax barrier" being mentioned is a technology originally announced in 2006 that would allow different content to be seen by two people looking at the same LCD from different angles (for instance, the driver in a car would see a different image from a center mounted monitor than the passenger). Sharp announced an LCD panel using such a barrier here.

It's difficult to sort through the various tech possibilities here and arrive at any definite conclusions, particularly with the paucity of details in Nintendo's announcement, but I do believe the following are true:
1. This unit will fit into Nintendo's historical DS pricing scheme. In other words, it will be very affordable.
2. 3D without glasses is the Holy Grail of tech, but it's highly unlikely that this is the "killer" version of autostereoscopic 3D that will blow people's minds.
3. Having said #2, though, it's also not the Virtual Boy. Even a reasonably convincing (and amusing) 3D effect will make the sales of this unit absolutely explode.
4. Nintendo did announce that it's backward compatible with previous DS games (not in 3D, obviously, but they'll play), which is an excellent feature.

I think this is a very, very shrewd move by Nintendo. 3D is absolutely THE tech buzzword right now, so in a marketing sense, this unit couldn't come at a better time. And they understood, apparently, that having to wear glasses would be a dealbreaker.

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