Last year, Toshiba showed me an experimental laptop that could do 3D without special glasses–and even do 3D on one part of the screen while another part was in standard 2D. Back them, it was just a technology demo. But the company has announced the Qosmio F755 3D, a model based on the tech I saw. It has a 15.6″ display and an Intel Core i7 CPU, and arrives on August 16th for $1699.99.
The Toshiba technology uses a lenticular screen–one capable of showing two slightly different images at once, which your eyes fuse into a 3D effect. The dimensionality I saw during the demo was a bit like what you get on the Nintendo 3DS: pretty darn grainy, but with a strong 3D effect. Even more than 3D that involves funny goggles, glasses-free 3D tends to have a sweet spot–you want to look at it from one particular position–but Toshiba cleverly uses the Qosmio’s Webcam to track your face and optimize the 3D appropriately.
Glasses-free 3D laptops aren’t a new idea–Sharp had one back in 2004 that attracted a fair amount of attention and then kind of vanished. (That wasn’t surprising: the 3D hurt my eyeballs, and there was no available 3D content to speak of at the time.)
I suspect that Toshiba thinks this Qosmio will be a specialty model of interest to a smallish number of gadget fans, not a landmark product. It can play 3D Blu-Rays and convert standard movies into a fake 3D effect, but it seems unlikely that there are teeming masses of people who will want to sit through entire movies in Toshiba’s 3D effect just yet.
Still, I’m glad the company is investing energy in specs-free 3D (it’s also demonstrated a no-glasses 3D HDTV). If 3D ever gets great–I’m not holding my breath–it’s going to be 3D that looks fabulous and doesn’t require glasses. And we won’t get there unless companies like Toshiba attempt to make it happen. What do you think the odds are that it’ll arrive in, oh, the next decade?