ELSA 3D REVELATOR

Over the past few years, 3D stereo or "shutter" glasses have been often released but not exceptionally successful. Their primary failing was the lack of speed of the LCD shutter. This causes substantial flickering, and consequentially a throbbing pain behind the eyes. Up until recently CPUs did not have the speed necessary to compute images for both eyes at a usable rate. In many early attempts specially written versions of the games were required that were tailored specifically to the 3D glasses. Some of the more recent 3D glasses even halved the visible resolution by switching from one eye to the next on a scanline-by-scanline basis. Their biggest failing, however, was the high price. Decent glasses sold from $120 to over $500 - much too costly for casual gamers. 

INTRODUCING THE ELSA 3D REVELATOR
ELSA has put an end to these problems with the release of their 3D REVELATOR Shutter glasses. Offered at a suggested retail price of $50.00 ($80.00 for the infrared wireless model) ELSA's 3D REVELATOR can be used with practically any Direct3D game without a patch! 3D REVELATOR performs with a maximum 140 Hz shutter speed for flicker-free operation and high-quality LCD shutter covering the full field of vision with high translucence and dimming. The glasses offer full 3D resolution and color depth in the game and come in a lightweight cabled or infrared design for the utmost in comfort. 

ELSA, in what is sure to be an act of wisdom, has determined that hardware reviews and word of mouth is ultimately the best advertising and from the numerous reviews of the 3D REVELATOR seem to want to really get the word out. And, with a product as exceptional as this, it isn't any wonder. While I was a bit disappointed that the shutter glasses arrived with a PCI ERAZOR II graphics card, I was nonetheless impressed with the REVELATOR's performance.

How It Works
The 3D REVELATOR 's graphics driver receives instructions from the Direct3D game to draw a three-dimensional scene from the game. Depending on their calculated position within the Z-buffer, objects are moved to the left or right, and the images with the correct perspective for the left and the right eye are calculated consecutively. While the computer is working on the next scene, those images are shown in sequence. The image for the left eye is shown while the right LCD is darkened, then the image for the right eye is shown with a darkened left LCD. This process repeats itself 120 times a second, ensuring an absolutely fluid display with 60 images per second per eye. Without the glasses the image on your monitor appears like the one below. (Careful, you won't want to look at it for long!)



Installation and Use
As far as the physical installation goes, it is a reasonably simple process. Getting the REVELATOR to work correctly with all the games we tested was a different story. Most D3D games worked instantly with it, but you'll find that a bit of tweaking is necessary to be truly comfortable within any given game. Fortunately, ELSA developed, along with the Stereo 3D Display Properties Applet, an excellent in-game control panel which allows for quick perspective corrections. 

While not a difficult task it can cause a bit of eye strain, especially if your monitor is incapable of the requisite 100Hz. You start to notice some flicker at frequencies of 90Hz and below and they can be quite mind numbing after about 1/2 hr of continuous play.

Once properly set up on a 100Hz monitor the experience is quite astounding. Testing the glasses with the ERAZOR II PCI, we found that frame rates dropped an average of about 8% overall while using the glasses. Personally, I feel the performance hit is well worth the experience. It takes some getting used to as your perspective within the game is slightly different so movement, aiming and shooting is somewhat hindered at first but ten minutes in, you be more comfortable and once you stop saying WOW!, you'll find yourself completely enthralled.

The REVELATOR only supports D3D. You can though use SCI Tech's GL Direct OpenGL/D3D wrapper to experience many of your favorite OpenGL-based games although you can expect somewhat of a performance hit.  I say many because I did have a bit of trouble using it in Half-Life Day One and it was pretty much useless in SiN.

The 3D REVELATOR 's major drawback, as far as I can tell is that you must have an ELSA graphics card in order to use it. It does come bundled with ERAZOR II, ERAZOR III and WINNER II cards at reasonable prices and can also be used with existing Victory II cards. Another, rather insignificant drawback, by today's standards anyway, is that you'll need a minimum 350MHz CPU for smooth performance in any screen resolution other than 640x480.  Apart from that, the effect is well worth the pittance the card costs if you already are fortunate enough to already own an ELSA card.

To find out more about the ELSA 3D REVELATOR and other great graphics products, check out ELSA's web site at http://www.elsa.com  


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