Sony 3D Display could revolutionize 2D gaming

Sony has long been saying it’s betting the future of gaming and home entertainment is in 3D, and at this year’s E3 the company is making good on its word with the announcement of a new 24-inch 3D Display. Due to land in virtually worldwide in time for the end-of-year holiday buying season, the 24-inch Display will not only handle traditional 3D movies and gaming content from Sony’s PlayStation 3, it will also be able to show unique, full-screen images to two players at the same time, expanding competitive and cooperative game play possibilities for PlayStation titles.

Sony PlayStation 3D Display

The display itself is a unique 24 inches in size, which Sony touts as being perfect for bedrooms, dorms, and other small spaces where typical 3DTV are way too large. The display offers full HD resolution—1,920 by 1,080 pixels—along with a 176° viewing angle, 4ms response time, and a 5,000:1 contrast ratio. Users will connect the display to their PS3s via HDMI (there’s a second HDMI input for connecting another device), and the display has built-in stereo speakers plus a subwoofer that might be enough to bring games to life in small spaces. There’s a component input if folks want to hook up old-school video sources, along with a headphone jack and a 3.5mm stereo minijack for hooking up media players or other audio sources. The display will support several 3D formats, including “top and bottom,” “side by side,” and “frame packing” so users will be able to enjoy a wide variety of 3D content.

However, the 3D Display’s flagship feature is undoubtedly its ability to push unique full-screen images to two gamers at the same time, enabled in part by the display’s quad-speed frame sequential display technology. The trick is enabled by the unique proprietary 3D glasses Sony has designed for the display, along with software especially designed to support the feature. Essentially, the technology transforms a 3D TV’s ability to send separate images to a viewer’s left and right eye to instead send separate images to different players: the images are 2D, but they’re full-screen, full-speed, and full-resolution, meaning two gamers can (in co-op or competitive mode) be interacting with two entirely different scenes while playing the same game.

The Sony 3D Display will go on sale “this fall” for a suggested retail price of $499.99. That price includes a pair of the proprietary 3D glasses and a copy of Resistance 3 with full support for the display’s dual player capabilities. Additional pairs of the 3D glasses will be available for $69.99; the glasses sport a rechargeable lithium ion battery; Sony says a three-minute charge will give about three hours of use, while a 45-minute charge will let the glasses run for about 30 hours.

The question for Sony now is how many developers it can get to support the 3D Display’s technology—if the display winds up being useful in only a small handful of games, it essentially just becomes a small form-factor 3DTV. But if game developers embrace the technology, it could become the PlayStation 3’s next must-have accessory, right alongside the PlayStation Move. And at $499.99, Sony might just have found a way to bring 3D to the masses whether developers embrace the display’s special features or not.