Nintendo 3DS: What’s The Hype About?

Posted on June 19, 2010

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Nintendo recently left a long-lasting impression on this past week’s E3 conference with it’s stunning new addition to the popular DS lineup: the Nintendo 3DS. You may have heard about this amazing system already, and I don’t blame you. Hype over this console has been spreading like wildfire through the internet, and it’s sparking even more interest in the new world of 3D entertainment. But what is the story behind the hype? What is driving the magic inside the new system?

Well, you’ve probably already figured out that this handheld is 3D capable, and that seems to be the main marketing point of the system. But what powers the 3DS? How does this amazing “glasses free” experience work? Well, the 3DS uses complex auto-stereoscopic technology to allow the viewer to percieve images in 3D without the need for special glasses. This technology is still in it’s early stages, although more TV and computer companies are doing extensive research and testing on it.  So, how does it work? Many different companies are using one of two different solutions for this common problem: Parallax barriers and Lenticular Lenses. The 3DS uses both. A lenticular lens is basically an array of small magnifying glasses, which magnify certain parts of the screen, depending on which angle you view the image at. This gives the illusion of depth in an image, when really you are still looking at a flat surface. A parallax barrier is a complex liquid-crystal display that allows the display of 3D images without glasses, using a layer of material with precision slits, which allows each eye to see a different set of pixels, which creates a sense of depth through parallax. A disadvantage of this technology is that the viewer needs to be positioned at just the right spot in order for them to see an optimal image, however steps are being taken to eliminate this, such as adding multiple “sweet spots” to the monitor. The 3DS combats it by adding elements from both lenticular lenses and parallax barriers.

So what powers this system? The new Nvidia Tegra multiprocessor, of course. This powerful processor is defined by Nvidia (owned by AMD) as a “computer on a chip”, and is used in a number of devices including Microsoft’s Zune HD. It integrates the ARM architecture, CPU, GPU, and memory controller into a single chip, making it incredibly efficient. It is comparable to Apple’s powerful A4 chip,which is used in it’s popular hand-held devices, the iPhone 4, and iPad.

In addition to the new processor, the 3DS is reported to weigh in at 230 grams (a 6% increase from the DS lite) and measure 130x74x20 mm, which is 10% smaller than the DS Lite. The screen sizes have changed, too. The top one is 3.53 inches, as opposed to the DS lite’s 3.12 inches. However, the bottom screen is a smaller 3.02 inches, similar in size to the screens of the original DS.

The new system also features several things never before seen in a DS, like a gyroscope and accelerometer. Both of which are reported to enhance the 3D experience. The 3DS has two 0.3 megapixel cameras on the outside of the unit that are capable of taking 3D images. It also has a third camera in the inside of the unit, facing the player. It still takes 2D images. The system can also record an play back 3D movies, using the cameras. The 3DS will be compatible with all existing DS lite and DSi games, as well as a new generation of 3DS games, such as Mario Kart 3DS.

The 3DS is reported to come out sometime near the fiscal end of 2010, which is sometime before April 2011. Prices are yet to be announced.

Sources:

E3 Expo 2010 – http://www.e3expo.com/

Nintendo 3DS (Wikipedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nintendo_3DS

Nvidia Tegra (Wikipedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nvidia_Tegra

Stereoscopy (Wikipedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereoscopy

Tomsguide.com – http://www.tomsguide.com/us/3DTV-autostereoscopic-CES,review-1490.html

Autostereoscopy (Wikipedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autostereoscopy

Lenticular lens (Wikipedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenticular_lens

Parallax barrier (Wikipedia) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallax_barrier

Image courtesy of cnet.co.uk – http://www.cnet.co.uk/i/c/blg/cat/gamesgear/3ds_main.jpg

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Posted in: Gaming, Nintendo