In case you hadn’t heard, 3D is the big news in entertainment this year with all the big players releasing 3D capable sets designed to tempt the eyeballs and loosen the purse strings. Unfortunately, there’s still a bit of a shortage of native 3D content and the opportunities to create your own are largely limited to the world of deep-pocketed professionals. That looks set to change with a couple of less well-known players, Aiptek and DXG, staking an early claim on the 3D consumer camera market. We checked out their offerings at Computex 2010.
Sony has said it will look to enter the 3D camera market as the technology gains in popularity and Sharp has already developed a 3D module compact enough to by used in mobile devices but hasn’t announced any plans on releasing a 3D camera. Meanwhile, earlier this year Panasonic unveiled its Twin-lens Full HD 3D camcorder with an SRP of US$21,000 and a release date of Q4 this year. So presently, the only consumer level 3D camera currently available is the US$600 FinePix Real 3D W1 from Fujifilm, leaving the market wide open for smaller players such as Aiptek and DXG ... for now anyway.
DXGDXG is a Taiwan-based manufacturer that has been one of the first responders in the area of 3D content creation for the masses. Although it won't say much about pricing or availability, it was showing a number of 3D still image and 3D video cameras at Computex. Despite a grilling the company provided very little in the way of extra information aside from that already available in a brochure at the company’s booth.
The company’s 3D video camcorder offerings included the DVX-5D7 and DVX-5D8. The DVX-5D7 is a pistol-grip camcorder, while the DVX-5D8 sports a unique Flip-like form factor with the rear of the unit twisting sideways to expose the camera’s controls and change the orientation of the display to widescreen. It appears the form factors are where the difference between the two models ends.
Both shoot 3D video in VGA (640 x 480) resolution and 2D in “half HD” and both allow 3D images to be viewed without glasses on the cameras’ 3.2-inch screens using the parallax barrier method – although recorded 3D vision will also be playable on most 3D TVs. The cameras can also capture still images up to 5-megapixel resolution, record to SDHC memory cards and sport HDMI out ports. DXG plans to sell the cameras under its own brand and is also considering offering them to OEM partners.
AiptekAiptek’s i2 ups the 3D resolution to a more respectable 1280 x 720p thanks to its two 5-megapixel CMOS sensors. Like the DXG offerings, the i2 allows 3D video to be viewed without glasses on its 2.4-inch display using the parallax barrier method and can also capture 5-megapixel still images. The i2’s Flip-like form factor allows its dual lenses to be spaced further apart than the DXG offerings, which could help produce a more noticeable 3D effect, although the proof is obviously in the watching. The i2 comes with USB 2.0 and an HDMI port.
Aiptek has said the i2 will be available this August for around US$200 and will apparently come bundled with YouTube 3D upload software and a pair of 3D glasses (of the red and cyan variety) to watch recorded video on a computer screen.
3D remains the next big thingThere's no doubt that, like CES in January, many manufacturers at Computex are betting on 3D as the next big thing in home entertainment. But with figures from various sources indicating that sales of 3D TVs so far this year have been sluggish, it remains to be seen when the public will get on board in a big way. Perhaps the injection of low cost shoot-your-own content alternatives such as those will help spur the uptake of 3D in the home.
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