• eDimensional Wireless 3D Glasses

    One Sierra Hotel Accessory Every Flight Simmer Will Want For the Holidays: eDimensional's Wireless 3D Glasses for both
    LCD Flat Panel and Analog CRT Monitors

    By Cap Mason


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    UPDATE:
    The latest 3D glasses now feature increased range when used with LCD screens. Now you can sit up to 12 feet from the screen and still get proper operation!

    The time had come to go 3D once again. I fell hopelessly in love with eDimensional's 3D glasses when I first reviewed them two years ago. As with many an affair, we were cruelly separated when I upgraded my old 20-inch analog monitor monster for a sleek new 18-inch LCD flat panel display. Alas, my trusty 3D glasses would only work with analog monitors. It was a tough choice, but that 20-inch analog CRT boat anchor just had to go.

    Now, we roll the clock ahead to November 2004. eDimensional has released a new and improved version of the 3D glasses that works perfectly with LCD flat panel displays. Woohoo! I missed those cool shades and the 3-dimensional view they gave me of the cockpit and scenery. The minute I put the new glasses on, my wife started kidding me again. "You still look like Buddy Holly meets the Jetsons!" She was referring, of course to these cool-looking 3D shades. One look for herself and she was amazed at the incredible visual effect. These glasses may not be for the runway fashionistas, but for a flightsimmer like me, they open up new vistas for FS2004, Combat Flight Simulator 3, IL-2 Sturmovik, Forgotten Battles, Pacific Fighters and LOMAC.

    ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE **** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE **Goosebumps and Cardiac Arrest

    I had seen the ads for 3D glasses on our site exclaiming, "A must have! ... True 3D for your PC ... If flightsims give you goosebumps, this will give you cardiac arrest!" Without a doubt, 3D glasses are one Sierra Hotel accessory for flight simulation. Now that they support flat panel LCD monitors, every flightsimmer can experience the thrill of 3D regardless of which monitor technology you use. Just for fun, I skimmed the rooftops in Hong Kong at twilight. All those tall skinny skyscrapers are perfect for 3D viewing.

    The toughest part of this review is trying to describe something that I cannot show you in a 2D photo or screen shot. So, if you want to see for yourself, you'll just have to order a pair of glasses and count on eDimensional's money-back guarantee of your complete satisfaction. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    The test set-up

    I tested eDimensional's Wireless E-D Glasses for LCD displays the same way I did the analog display version. Here's the test platform specifications:

    • Dell Dimension XPS, Dell a03 system BIOS

    • 3.06GHZ Intel Pentium 4 processor with HTT, 800MHz front side bus using the Intel� 875P chipset.

    • 8X AGP port

    • Samsung DVD-ROM SD -616T

    • NEC DVD+RW ND-1100A

    • Western Digital 120GB Ultra ATA, 7200 RPM hard drive

    • Dual channel DDR 400MHz SDRAM, 1024MB

    • Built-in 10/100 Ethernet port, DSL Internet connection

    • 2, IEEE 1394 Firewire ports

    • 8, Intel 82801EB USB Universal Host Controllers

    • Audigy 2 audio card

    • 128MB ATI Radeon 9800 Pro video card with ATI Catalyst 3.9 driver

    • 460 watt power supply

    • Dell UltraSharp 18" flat panel display

    • CH Products USB flight gear all connected simultaneously: Yoke, Fighterstick, Pro Pedals, Pro Throttle, Throttle Quadrant

    • Voice Buddy 2.0: Microsoft Flight Simulator Edition

    • eDimensional Audio FX headset

    • Windows XP Professional, Service Pack 2

    • DirectX 9c

    • MegaScenery Volumes 1, 2, 3

    ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE **Installation and software set-up was a breeze.

    Hardware set-up is completely external. I love it when I don't have to open the PC case. The glasses come with a driver CD, a video dongle with an adapter to accommodate older video cards and a wireless transmitter. Start with your PC and monitor both powered down and unplugged from the power outlet. Always a wise precaution when plugging and unplugging cables from your PC. You simply unplug your monitor from your video card. Plug the dongle into your video card and plug the monitor cable into the dongle. Plug the wireless transmitter into the dongle and place the tiny infrared wireless transmitter on your monitor with the handy Velcro tab included in the package. Power back on and you're done.

    Installing the drivers is also a snap. Just make certain that you turn off your antivirus software before installing and re-start it when you're done. The glasses support ATI RADEON, nVidia GeForce and a very long list of other video cards. Before running the installation, I downloaded the latest driver for my ATI RADEON 9800 Pro card from the ATI website.

    The CD contains the latest stereo drivers for the video cards. The glasses contain their own micro-battery power source and have a tiny "ON" switch inside the frame. The batteries are good for about 100 hours of continuous use. The wireless transmitter has a 10-foot (3-meter) range. I turned them on and everything worked perfectly. But if you encounter any problems, just call eDimensional for expert help. They're great and will quickly help you resolve any glitches you may run into.

    ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE **** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE **Flying FS2004 with a 3-dimensional View

    Once the drivers are installed, there is a setup program where you set the resolution and refresh rates you want as well as tweak some of the stereo effects settings. This is where you get your first peek at 3D. It's very cool to look at. The visual impact at first is startling. Objects definitely appear to be 3-dimensional. I think this is about the closest I've ever come to experiencing what Star Trek's holodeck must be like.

    OK, I was totally amped and wanted to go flying! First test was with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004. I fired up Mike Stone's TWA Lockheed 1049 Super-G Constellation, launched from San Francisco International Airport and took a quick tour of the Bay Area. I was flying with MegaScenery Volume 3: Northern California. The Connie's long, sexy sleek lines were perfect for a 3D view. The panels looked like I could reach into the monitor and start flipping switches and moving the throttle levers by hand. The best was yet to come.

    I lifted off the runway and turned toward Mount San Bruno. This was not a realistic flight, mind you, so buzzing The City was definitely on my flight plan. As I approached the mountain I got a dizzying sense of real flight. Better than anything I've ever experienced. Skimming over the mountain, I nosed over and headed downtown. Candlestick Park and the other ground scenery objects looked more realistic than they ever did on their best day in 2D. The real treat was threading the Connie between the Bank of America and Transamerica Pyramid skyscrapers. 3D effects make tall buildings look fabulous when you fly by at low altitude. The effects looked best at low altitudes where you can see the terrain details up close.

    Aircraft handling, using the radios and other instruments, plus the usual take-off and landing routines all went by smoothly. Only now they looked a whole lot better. 3D also looked marvelous in both virtual and normal cockpit views. The instruments were all readable. Tiny type did suffer some degradation, however. But, that hardly mattered to me. After all, these are visual special effects goggles and not reading glasses. Speaking of glasses, I wear reading glasses when using a computer. The eDimensional 3D glasses fit right over them without any problems at all.

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    Blowing Up Stuff in 3D

    Now this is where 3D glasses were sierra hotel. The 3D effects were good in CFS2 and absolutely mind-boggling in CFS3, IL-2 Pacific Fighters and LOMAC. That's because these combat flightsims already has awesome 3D graphics and sensational terrain and ground object detail. The CFS3 and IL-2 cut screens started me off with a real treat. Seeing the planes and pilots displayed in all their 3-dimensional glory gave me just a tantalizing glimpse of the ride I was in for. I fired up the Spitfire, lifted off to look for bandits with a hankering to blow stuff up.

    The glasses made the cockpit view look great. Panning around the outside views looked best when I could see my plane in relation to the rest of the aircraft in the formation. The feeling of depth enhanced the visuals by a factor of ten. LOMAC has some of the most detailed and gorgeous jets of any sim on the market. The LOMAC cockpits were a pure feast for my eyes in 3D. I can't do it justice in text. You simply have to see this for yourself.

    When I rolled in on my ground targets, I found that my aiming of rockets and bombs was actually a lot better in 3D than in 2D. The clouds, explosions and smoke effects were voluminous and much more exciting in 3D even with the graphics sliders turned way down to setting 1 or 2.

    The real test was how 3D influences air-to-air combat in a warbird. LOMAC's missile fighting beyond visual range doesn't put 3D to the test. But with Pacific Fighters and CFS3, there's no time for eye-candy distraction when you're getting jumped by four bandits and your wingman can't help you out. 3D performed exceptionally well under these circumstances. No eye candy here, just improved realism and a greater sense of "being there."

    Deflection shooting during combat is a good test of pilot skill and visual acuity to see if the glasses might throw off my aim. The exact opposite was true. I had much better depth perception in 3D. I could lead the bandit more accurately and found I was doing less jinking to line him up for a deflection shot. This was also helpful when flying a jet in LOMAC and setting up a guns solution.

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    I rolled in on the first bandit, lined him up and took him out with a deflection burst more smoothly with 3D than without it. The flight got even better when the furball closed in to short range. Rolling out of the attack and flying through smoke and debris in 3D was so much fun that I just had to splash another bandit and do it again. Unfortunately, I became so enamored with the new view, that I got greased by bandit number four while gazing out the canopy marveling over this new 3-dimensional world I was in. As I said earlier, eye-candy can be hazardous to your health if you allow your mind to wander. Fortunately, this is a game and the trusty reset button is always at the ready.

    ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE **Where to Buy Them

    You can get ED glasses in either wired or wireless versions at the FlightSim.Com Pilot Shop. I have enough wires on my desk with all my flight controllers so I would not even think of getting the wired version.

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