The start of the 3D smart phone era

November 3rd, 2010  |  Published in Gadget Review, On the TechWatch

Sharp, Nintendos supplier of the 3D-display for the portable game-console 3Ds, will start selling its own 3D-smart phone in December. The first vendor will be the carrier Softbank, which gained fame and profits as the sole seller of Apple’s iPhone in Japan.

If Sharp’s prototype at the Ceatec serves as any guide, the mobile will also sport a 3D-camera as well as Google’s Android as OS.

Having tested the display a few months ago at Sharp and the new mobile at the Ceatec, the TechWatcher has no doubt, that the 3D era is beginning not only in TVs, but also mobile phones, but mainly for technical reasons.

In contrast to earlier attempts of Sharp, the 3D-screen will become standard sooner or later, because it now offers high enough resolution also in 3D and is not thicker than conventional screens anymore. Therefore, manufacturers will built it in.

However, doubts remain whether people will really use it that often, because the quality of the 3D pictures is still questionable.

In my opinion 3D pictures worked best with animation. But 3D-photographs appear to be bad, sometimes even crappy. This is especially true, if you use the built in 3D-camera.

Having said that, the 3D effect is undeniable, and many people might use it, even though it is crappy, just for the fun of it. They also used the first in-phone-cameras, although their quality was crappy too.

The technology behind it: To display 3D pictures Sharp uses a parallax barrier. It is basically a fence, that allows to display one column of pixels for the right and a seconce one for the left eye. The brain computes the 3D image.

The drawback is, that it halves the resolution of the screen, and that the 3D effect is easily lost if you change the position of your head.

But a) the original resolution is high enough to show enjoyable pictures; b) because the mobile phone is handheld, you don’t have to move your head to get the 3D sweet spot, but only your hand. That is fine for short clips. For full length movies, glasses are still the TechWatcher’s┬áchoice.

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