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Toshiba launches world's first glasses-free 3D laptop

Qosmio F750 HD webcam tracks eye movements; sends images accordingly

Toshiba has unveiled the world’s first glasses-free 3D laptop. The Qosmio F750 3D is a 15.6in screen Windows 7 laptop that can display 3D images that can be viewed without the need for special 3D glasses. It will go onsale in the UK from early August with an expected RRP of £1,300 including VAT.

The Toshiba F750 3D laptop packs in an Intel Core i7 Huron Sandy Bridge processor and supports Full HD (1366x768-pixel) video playback. A Blu-ray drive, a 2GB nVidia GeForce GT 540M graphics chip and Harman Kardon speakers will all be included on the gaming laptop.

There are already a number of 3D laptops on the market, including the Toshiba Satellite A665 – the world’s first 3D-capable laptop, launched back in 2010. Toshiba also sells a 3DTV, the REGZA WQL768, which was first unveiled at the IFA trade show in Berlin in September last year, while in January this year this first glasses-free TV got an airing at CES – another Toshiba 3D landmark.

Existing 3D laptops and TVs generally use ‘active shutter’ technology’ to close off the vision to alternating eyes to create illusion of 3D. In contrast, the Qosmio F750 laptop will have a lenticular screen, explained Tony Alderson, Toshiba UK’s business to consumer product manager. “The lenticular lens sheet sends different images to the left and the right eyes”, he explained.

Lenticiular lens technology has been around for some time. However, an interesting feature of the F750 is that it has a built-in HD webcam that tracks the viewer and directs the left and right image information to that part of the screen accordingly. At a demonstration event in central London on Monday, we were able to see how the Qosmio’s webcam noted our position in front of the screen and beamed images to us accordingly. Toshiba terms this ability “switch cell image adjustment”.

The optimum position for viewing a 3D movie or game on the F750 is around 60cm from the screen. This allows the eye tracker to work accurately and also means 3D effects are shown at their best. The laptop can display content recorded in 3D, such as a Blu-ray 3D movie of Toy Story or Thor.

However, its powerful 2GB nVidia GeForce GT 540 M graphics chip and the laptop’s SpursEngine image processor sensor are also clever enough to try to convert native 2D footage into 3D. Although not as successful as the 3D playback experience, we were able to get something from the suitably 'upscaled' 3D version of Monsters Inc, albeit with a fair amount of fuzziness.

Since the extent to which 3D can be experienced varies from individual to individual, we conducted a straw poll of other journalists at the demonstration event. Most had found the need to sit so close to the laptop screen offputting, while the F750's eye-tracking ability met with enthusiasm. However, a disadvantage is that, as Alderson himself describes it, viewing 3D on the 15.6in display is "a one-person experience". Alderson would not be drawn on whether larger-screen 3D laptops suitable for viewing by more than one person at once were likely to launch, stating that we could imagine there would be more products further down the line but that there were "no further announcements" being made today. 

As well as its 3D credentials, the Toshiba Qosmio F750 is the first to sport a Blu-ray XL drive. This can record to discs of up to 100GB on a single platter. The laptop is also able to display 2D and 3D footage simultaneously. This means that the user can be watching a 3D movie but also checking their Facebook updates or scanning their emails in a separate 2D onscreen window. The laptop will have a 640GB hard drive and will weigh 2.9kg. 

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