Sony’s ever popular games console may be about to step up even further in desirability with the recently announced arrival of the PlayStation 3D TV. Sony announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo during June 2011 that they will bring the model to market alongside their existing range of 3D TVs in an attempt to take the 3D games market by storm. Sony are planning to use breakthrough technology which allows two players to see individual different game images on screen by simply pressing a button, revolutionising the existing split screen method, and opening up new potential in the ways that competitive games are played.
The out of the blue announcement firmly places 3D gaming as the one source of 3D content that has true potential to place 3D TV at the centre of our home technology needs. Watching images in 3D naturally increases the feeling of immersion, which of course is one of the key attractions of gaming in general – to take you out of this world and into another where you’re in control and slap bang in the middle of the action. With video games attempting to deliver a true 3D experience unsuccessfully for many years, and the Nintendo 3DS not quite delivering everything it promised, it very much looks as if it Sony will ensure that their new PlayStation 3D TV takes the pole position in the race for the best new 3D entertainment of 2011.
Sony have stated that the PlayStation 3D TV screen size will be 24 inches and come as part of a bundle that will include various essential accessories such as active shutter 3D glasses, HDMI connector cables to hook up the PS3 to the TV, and a 3D game which first indications suggest will be Resistance 3. The glasses operate on a rechargeable lithium ion battery that according to Sony needs a 45 minute charge to give up to 30 hours playing time, plus just a few minutes charge is expected to provide a few full hours use. With a planned Autumn 2011 release date there is plenty of time for elements of this bundle to change, and it’ll be no surprise to see either different or extra games included.
For anyone who’s been following the progress of 3D TV technology over the last year or so, the 24 inch display size might be surprising. On first impressions it does seem on the small side given much of the focus on 3D TV has been on building and selling bigger screen models to increase the immersive feeling that’s a major part of watching 3D images. But Sony are aiming this innovation at gamers who are used to smaller screens, they might be playing in bedrooms and other small spaces where standard larger 3D TVs are way too big.
At roughly £320 or around $500 the price might just about be set at the right level, though extra pairs of Sony glasses cost between around $50 – $70 as well. Early reports indicate that the picture quality delivered by the 1080p, 24 inch, edge LED lit display is strong, and other specifications of the model include a 5000 to 1 contract ratio, 2 HDMI inputs, and a 176 degree viewing angle for players. This wide viewing angle looks to be a critical element of the TV, allowing players to sit next to each other exactly as they do now to enjoy multiplayer games and yet still get the full 3D effect.
Other features include a headset port, two HDMI ports, one component port, and two speakers. All combined with an ultra thin display. But the ability for players to see different 3D images while playing the same game is of course the jewel in the crown. The technology uses what’s known as quad speed frame sequential display technology, and in simple terms it works by combining the glasses with the TV to send the separate 3D images to the different players.
Most major manufacturers, and Sony in particular of course, believe that 3D games will drive the adoption of 3D TVs even higher, and this looks to be the first real effort from a major games manufacturer to try and prove that point. For an experienced gamer the PlayStation 3D TV could become one of the all time must have gaming gadgets. And for those of us who don’t class themselves as hardened gamers, then this new development might be the fuel that sets us on the road. There are already over 100 PS3 3D games in circulation and if the PlayStation 3D TV is successful it will be no surprise to see that number increase substantially.
At the expected price of around $500 this option may just encourage anyone who’s been sitting on the fence about buying a 3D TV to jump in with both feet. And the potential for the future is outstanding. Imagine when 3D games get to be paired with motion-sensing controls or head tracking technology, we could be facing whole new ways of gaming. Players could manipulate 3D environments with a wave of their hand. Game play and even player level creation could become far more intuitive than ever before. Should the PlayStation 3D TV be as successful as seems likely, it could open up the doorway to even more new and innovative gaming experiences.
It all sounds good, doesn’t it? But there are some drawbacks. The major one is that the dual player mode will only work with 3D games that have been specially created to take advantage of it. Clearly that means that all existing games will be incompatible from this perspective, though of course you’ll be able to play them as a single player in 3D. Sony will reportedly have around 100 fully compatible games released by the end of the year.
So we’ll need to wait and see what further developments take place. But if the idea of the PlayStation 3D TV doesn’t grab your imagination there’s an alternative way to hook up your PlayStation to a 3D TV with the recently released Sony combination 3D TV/PC. Known as the Vaio All In One, the combo comes with a 24 inch, 1080p HD LCD monitor, plus a built-in Blu-Ray player. Connectivity to a PS3 is via an HDMI port. At a price of around $1400, the All-In-One could be a better option for anyone who wants to combine 3D gaming with their other online activities.