When will 3D make up its mind? One year we’re gracing our faces with blue and red cardboard glasses re-announcing the revolution, the next it seems to have died a death. Well, for better or for worse, its back and this time with a glint in its eye as the likes of James Cameron and Pixar provide it with the credibility it has always craved.
ASUS is one of the first laptop manufacturers to wholly embrace 3D, and the G51J is material evidence of this. It’s a gaming laptop that boasts nVidia’s 3D Vision technology which, with the aid of an infrared module and, yes, a pair of glasses, allows you to view digital content on the laptop in the glorious third dimension.
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This time round, however, the glasses aren’t torn from the front of a magazine, and don’t feature blue and red gel lenses. Instead, the plastic of each lens acts as a shutter for each eye separately. The glasses are synchronised with the laptop via the infrared remote and open and close – or shutter – for each eye separately. The result is that each eye sees a slightly different picture, and it is this that creates the 3D effect.
The most important question is, does it work? Fortunately, the answer is yes – but there are problems. The most irritating is the kit isn’t as easy to setup as it should be, and syncing the glasses with the infrared remote is a fiddly process at best.
The glasses snap into action as soon as 3D content is accessed, and we enjoyed a healthy session with Capcom’s Resident Evil 5 – an nVidia 3D Vision game. We were initially impressed by the level of immersion it provided, but the more we played the quicker the initial impact of the 3D effects melted away.
Other than a sense of distance between the main character and the surrounding action there’s nothing to separate the 3D Vision version from the experience played on a normal PC – those expecting bullets to flow towards them and fire out of the panel will be disappointed.
On top of this, colours appear washed out while brightness also suffers, and the game on the G51J loses much of the vibrancy it boasts on non-3D capable laptops. We found the situation to be similar when we trialed Batman: Arkham Asylum, another 3D Vision title.
Movies suffered less on this front, and the footage of a car race at the Nuremberg Ring especially impressed. Here the 3D effect was subtler and less forced than it had been in the games.
3D capabilities dealt with, the G51J boasts some cutting edge components that provide powerful performance. The Intel Core i7 processor, combined with 4096MB of DDR3 memory, impressed in benchmarking and we had no issues playing resource intensive games – including Crysis – thanks to the use of a nVidia GeForce GTX 260M.
All this power affects the portability of the machine, however, and the 146 minute battery life restricts mobility quite a bit. Not that you’ll want to carry the spine re-arrangingly heavy 3.7kg chassis round for long, anyway.
The 1TB hard drive offers comprehensive storage options, and there’s also a Blu-ray optical drive (read only) for you high definition fans out there – its just a shame that the 15.6-inch panel only features a 1366 x 768 pixel resolution.
While not the most garish of designs, the blue lid does appeal to the chav within, making it a bit of a guilty pleasure and build quality is generally good but the keyboard – featuring ASUS’s Chiclet style – is a little spongy for our liking.
Connectivity is decent, with an HDMI port included as well as four USB 2.0 ports and a mini Firewire. 802.11n and Gigabit provide the latest in networking technology.
Ultimately the ASUS G51J succeeds in bringing 3D to the gaming masses, but in our humble opinion the content – as is often the case – has yet to catch up with the technology. Until it does the £1699 price tag seems a little steep, considering there is currently more power available for much less.