Elsa Erazor 3 + Revelator 3D Glasses - Page 7

Elsa Revelator: True 3D In A Window!
Okay, I guess we’ve reached the most anticipated item of the review. For many people, the only thing unique about the Elsa Erazor (which warrants buying it over other TNT2 cards), is that it allows use of the stereoscopic 3D Revelator glasses with it. However, Elsa has recently released drivers that allow it to work on any TNT2 card, or so it claims. In any case, let’s test out the Revelator with the Erazor card and see if it’s original intended performance is up to spec.

Firstly, a bit of background on how the 3D-Specs work. Basically, the Revelator connects to a breakout DIN-connector whose one end is attached to the monitor and the other to the graphics card. As the connectors are all external, there shouldn’t be any problems getting this to work on any standard graphics card with the proper drivers. Look at the diagram below if it’s not too clear:

Secondly, just a few pointers on what 3D-stereoscopic imaging is all about. Basically, our eyes and mind perceive things in 3D due to 2 slightly different perspective images that each eye sees. For example, just alternate closing each eye and look at an object in front of you. You’ll notice that the object is slightly “misaligned” relative to each eye, owing to the different perspectives of view presented. In general, the greater the “misalignment”, the greater the perspective presented or depth of field to your brain.

Typically, what the 3D glasses does is pretty similar. To project and simulate 3D imagery, the system simply presents 2 slightly “misaligned” images onscreen. The 3D glasses when worn, utilizes the monitor refresh rate and principally “filters” off an image for each eye. This presents a separate identical image for each eye that is slightly out of place when we stare at the monitor – exactly how our eyes & brain would have viewed a 3D image.

Of course, by altering the settings of how each image is positioned, one can actually trick the brain into having more depth of field, etc. This tweaking is thoughtfully provisioned for in Elsa’s handy in-game overlay 3D control panel.

Have you finished your theory
lesson, just tell me how it performs!!??

3D Stereoscopic Delivery - Up To Specs?
Well, how does it perform? In general, I must say I’m impressed. I never pictured that I could actually see Lara in her full 3D glory (er..hum..) and get excessive motion sickness playing Descent 3 today!! The glasses does a great job in simulating (or stimulating.. =P) 3D imagery and typically projects the 3D images “into” the screen / monitor.

To give you a clearer picture, just think Descent 3 and its HUD in the ship. The HUD will seem to be overlayed on the monitor screen with the rest of the 3D imagery projected beyond it (ie. Inside the monitor).

However, having said that let’s analyze what the Revelator really offers:

Ease of Control
When I first put on the 3D specs, I noticed obvious “fringing” or double-imagery of the 3D images. I had to adjust various settings via the handy Elsa control panel just to get it right.

It may be a pain at first to adjust as there a lot of cryptic terms like “Dyna-Z”, “Z-Front”, etc. However, through experimentation, I managed to refine it to get a decent 3D stereoscopic image. This utility is also readily accessible via a assigned Hot-Key that is enabled once the stereo driver is active.

Actually, various predefined settings are available through the Display Properties control in Windows. In fact, this applet is much more user-friendly, but offers less control than the in-game controls.

Games Compatibility
I have no gripes at all on this point and the Specs passes this with flying colours. I tried several Direct 3D games on it including Tomb Raider, Descent 3, Fifa 99, Unreal, etc, and it all worked fine. It should be pointed out (if not already known) that the Specs work only for Direct 3D games. Hence, no Glide or OpenGL games can be viewed in this form as yet…In addition, it should be highlighted that the 3D effect only works at monitor / card resolutions that support 120Hz. So playing at higher resolutions may not be possible!

Limitations
Didn’t think there were any?? Well, nothing major I suppose…But here’s what I gathered:

Firstly, it should be highlighted that by increasing depth of field, you’re typically decreasing the size of your viewed image onscreen. This is understandable, as we are trying to increase the “misalignment” effect and shifting each image further away from each other within a constrained screen-size. Hence, there is only so deep you can go. In any case, increasing depth too much may lose the 3D effect, as this is contingent upon other variables – like the distance between eyes, etc. Thus, there is a trade-off for screen-size and depth of field.

Secondly, the 3D Revelator Specs undoubtedly offers a virtual sense of 3D feel and simulation. However, by dawning on the “shades” you’ll be inevitably sacrificing vibrant colours for it and getting weaker contrasts. Even by turning up the settings via the monitor doesn’t aid much, as it’s just like putting on a screen-filter whilst playing games. So don’t expect beautiful, glorious and dazzling 32-bit colour to accompany the stereoscopic images you see.

Thirdly, we should ask ourselves the practicality of playing games in 3D stereoscopic mode. With the system having to process 2 images and superimpose them upon each other, it is understandable that there will be a performance hit. How much? As a test, I ran 3D Mark 99 Max with and without the stereo enabled:

As you can see above, there is quite a performance hit especially in 32-bit mode. This is partly attributed to the requirement for V-Synch to be on for the Revelator to work. Basically, the glasses needs to know the refresh rate to “filter” off and adapt to the monitor’s synch rate. This is a major factor especially if you’re into next-gen games that are more taxing, and your system cannot afford the loss in frame-rates.

Please Tell me the Verdict!!??

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