3D Processor Page 2

Play back a Sensio-encoded DVD without engaging the processor, and you'll see a pair of images side by side on the screen. Fire up the processor, and the S3D-100 alternately displays the left-eye image and the right-eye image full-frame every sixtieth of a second. The IR emitter syncs the on/off action of the LCD shutters in the glasses so that each eye only sees the frame it's supposed to see. The flickering of the glasses is marginally perceptible at times, especially with bright scenes; yet, despite my proclivity for migraine head-aches, I rarely found the flickering to be annoying, distracting, or pain-inducing. (The 3D processor has adjustable circuitry to minimize the flickering sensation. Keeping the room as dark as possible also helps.)

The S3D-100's output is analog RGB via a VGA connector. My Philips 34PW9815 34-inch HD monitor luckily sports one of these somewhat uncommon input jacks on the back, and the S3D-100 processor fired up in glorious 3D without a hitch. But the processor's excellent 3D effects cry out for the biggest screen possible, so I also gave it a test drive on a Pioneer Elite PRO-730HD 64-inch display and a Yamaha DPX-1 DLP front projector (on a 100-inch screen). There's no doubt about it: The 3D effect gets better as the screen gets bigger. In fact, watching 3D on a drop-down projection screen is best because it not only looks like objects come out from the screen but it looks like they extend off to the sides behind the image, too.

It's hard to describe the 3D effect other than to say that it looks threedimensional. A lot depends on the software you're watching. Some scenes from the available Sensio-encoded discs—such as the underwater scenes with eels, fish, and sea turtles on SOS Planet or the metallic spider scene (taken from T2: 3D) in Encounter in the Third Dimension—were unbelievably believable. Sometimes the 3D effect does little for you, as when two characters are simply standing next to one another with little action. The picture quality can at times look a little soft, with some stair-stepping of diagonal lines. However, the 3D effect adds so much to the experience that I'd bet most people won't notice (or won't mind) that the picture isn't quite as detailed as it is with a regular DVD.

Not every HDTV is compatible with the Sensio system. Plasma TVs emit a great deal of infrared, which makes it difficult for the glasses to interpret the sync signal from the emitter. Some televisions, like the Sharp LC-37HV4U, display an image, but the left- and right-eye images continuously shift in and out of alignment. Richard LaBerge, one of Sensio's founders and the VP of sales and marketing, explained that the problem is caused when the TV converts the 3D processor's 59.94-hertz sync rate to 60 Hz.

For HDTVs that lack an analog RGB VGA input or for sets like the Sharp that convert the output sync, Sensio recommends using a VGA-to-component converter from Key Digital (the KD-VTCA3). Sensio is still in the gargantuan process of testing compatibility with all of the various TVs on the market, and they intend to post their results on their Website. In the meantime, beg your local dealer to bring an S3D-100 out to your house for a demo. Just be sure to have your $3,000 check ready to hand over because, if the processor works with your TV, you're never going to be able to let the salesperson take it back to the store.

Currently, the 3D processor's biggest issue is the number of titles you can watch. Although over 250 3D movies have been made since about 1915 (including Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder and the soft-porn classic The Stewardesses in 3D), right now there are only five Sensio-encoded titles (SOS Planet, Encounter in the Third Dimension, Alien Adventure, Ultimate G's, and Haunted Castle). Sensio plans to release at least one 3D DVD feature per month, so 3D junkies like me will be able to get a regular fix. (For those whose ears, among other organs, perked up at the mention of The Stewardesses in 3D, Sensio's LaBerge tells me that a Sensio-encoded adult title has been licensed for release around the time you'll be reading this.) Since it's much easier to shoot in 3D nowadays, it's quite possible that we'll see a lot more new 3D movies from directors like James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez.

Although software availability and TV compatibility are issues I certainly don't want to minimize, I have to say that they pale when viewed in the three-dimensional glow of Sensio's new processor. If your TV's not compatible, save the money you're spending on herbal Viagra substitutes and get a new one that is. Sure, $3,000 is a lot for a device that will only have 18 or so titles a year from now. But the S3D-100 is in a league of its own when it comes to home entertainment. There have been few other products I've seen that have the power to capture people's attention the way the Sensio does. Even if you can't afford it, find a dealer with Sensio's processor hooked up to the biggest screen possible and feast your eyes on a new kind of reality TV.


• State-of-the-art 3D performance
• Wireless eyeglasses
• Simple operation

Dealer Locator Code SSI
(514) 846-2022