Whether you need a Xbox 360 Kinect Bundle, a PS3 Move Bundle, a Nintendo Wii or 3DS, our 2011 Holiday Buyers Guide will give you the best advice on what to buy this season.

Holiday Buyers Guide 2011: 3D Gifts -- The Gadgets And Games In 3D


Posted November 21, 2011 - By Matt Swider

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The Most Awkward Job At CES 2010 (Of Course, It Involves 3D)

Welcome to our 2011 Holiday Buyer's Guide for 3D Gaming. This gaming trend has gained momentum in the past year thanks to the backing of key players in the video game industry. Sony is committed to supporting 3D in all of its new first-party PS3 games, Nintendo released a handheld dedicated to the new dimension and Microsoft even stepped up with a pair of Xbox 360 3D exclusive titles. On the PC side, Nvidia gave us a brighter 3D outlook by releasing the 3D Vision 2 glasses, which aren’t half as dark as the original lenses. So, although consumers have been slow to adopt this technology, the fact that 3D is being built into TV sets, computer monitors and handhelds means that 3D gaming will creep into our lives whether we’re ready or not. Knowing that, if you’re adamant on being an early adopter who owns all of the coolest tech toys, impress your friends this season by adding these 3D gadgets and games to your 2011 holiday wish list.

The 3D Hardware

3d Samsung

High-End 3D TV: Samsung 55-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D LED HDTV
Samsung’s line of HDTVs have always been a favorite choice among gamers, but it’s the company’s latest 3D LEDs that are in a class of their own. Specifically, I like the 55-inch UN55D8000 - it’s 1080p, runs at 240Hz and has an amazing contrast ratio of 25,000,000:1. Games can certainly take advantage of those tech specs and make the next-generation of consoles seem like they should be a ways off, fingers crossed. Besides exhibiting some of the best 3D that money can buy, one of the best features Samsung came up with was to include a QWERTY keyword on the underside of the remote - controlling your TV is a snap and affords you more time to get back to gaming. There is a 60-inch model of this 3D TV available, but this 55-inch version can be found for $800 cheaper at just under the $2,000 mark.

3D Panasonic

High-End 3D Projector: Panasonic PT-AE7000U 3D Projector
Alternatively, if you are looking to drop $3,000 on a larger 3D TV, why stop with a 60-inch set? By opting for a 3D projector like the oh-so-desirable Panasonic’s PT-AE7000U, you can have a 60-incher or a 160-incher. Not only that, this is the top-of-the-line 3D projector on the market, with a 300,000:1 contrast ratio and 2,000 lumens of brightness. I’m pretty sure that because of its specs, size and 3D capabilities, when you watch that episode of Family Guy where the Kool-Aid Man bursts through the wall, you may actually think he’s bursting through your wall. There’s one caveat: this $3,000 projector doesn’t include 3D glasses. But if you’re buying this IMAX-at-home projector, money is already no object.

3d Projector Optoma

Affordable 3D Projector: Optoma GameTime
Playing Uncharted 3 on the Optoma GameTime 750 DLP 3D Projector makes the experience more immersive and relaxing. Immersive because the action-packed situations that Nathan Drake finds himself in will jump out at your eyes. Relaxing because your eyes won’t jump out of their sockets after seeing the price tag, a mere $800. Yes, you can buy almost four of these short-throw projectors for the same price as the Panasonic. At the same time, it’s no slouch in the tech specs: a 3,000:1 contrast ratio, 3,000 lumens and an impressive 3,000 to 4,000-hour lamp life. But the most important thing is that this projector can easily throw up a 120-inch 3D image and look just as good to everyone but the most discerning videophile. Your games will thank you for the larger-than-life treatment as you play, while your wallet will forever thank you for saving a total of $2,200.

3d Favi

Max Out Your 3D Projection: FAVI Electric Projection Screen
Once you spend almost a thousand dollars or more on a new 3D projector, it’s easy to forget about the little things and simply fire-up your powerful new gaming display on the closest wall. When I first began using a projector six years ago, I went from shining its giant-sized image onto a matte white-painted wall to a bed sheet manipulated to look like a projection screen. But for 3D gaming, it’s best to go with a specialized state-of-the-art projection screen. Specifically, I’d go with one of the models from FAVI Entertainment because they cover all of your bases with fixed frame, manual pull-down and the luxurious electronic projection screen. From 82 inches to a whopping 200 inches, these high-quality projector screens will make your 3D gaming experience seem a little more 3D.

3D PS3 Display

Affordable 3D TV: PS3 3D Display
The PlayStation 3 3D Display is probably the most feature-packed 3D television that you can get this holiday season. Its 24-inch screen size doesn’t sound like a whole lot of real estate, but its SimulView technology can making gaming with a buddy if feel as if you’re splitting a 48-inch HDTV. That’s because SimulView makes splitscreen obsolete using the glasses to give each player the entire screen. Gone are the days of squinting at a tiny multiplayer window and having the unfair and sometimes game-ruining advantage of knowing exactly what your opponent is doing in deathmatch. The PS3 Display comes bundled with one pair of PS3 3D glasses (the second pair is on you), a micro-USB cord to recharge them, an HDMI cable and a copy of MotorStorm: Apocalypse, a destruction-filled racer that can serve as an impressive 3D tech demo. All for an even $500, which doesn’t seem too bad for all of the exclusive tech found within this 24” monitor.

3D Vision

For Your 3D PC Rig: Nvidia Vision 3D 2
Sony may be the biggest backer of 3D gaming on consoles, but Nvidia takes the top honor of supporting the most titles in 3D with more than 600 games. Like all PC gaming, the setup isn’t as straightforward as on consoles. You’ll need to piece together a 3D Vision Wireless Kit (which comes with glasses and an IR emitter), a 120Hz 3D Vision-ready monitor, TV or projector, and a compatible GeForce graphics processor. But the good news is that this scavenger hunt just became a little more worth your time and effort thanks to the introduction of the Nvidia 3D Vision 2 glasses, sold separately or as part of the wireless kit. The lenses are 20% larger and offer “LightBoosting technology.” In other words, the 3D glasses are twice as bright compared to the room-dimming specs of the previous model. 3D gaming on the PC may require a little extra work, but jumping through all of its hoops just to experience 600 3D games makes you a whole new kind of hardcore.

Nintendo 3DS

Portable: Nintendo 3DS
Skeptical of 3D spectacles? That seems to be everyone’s problem with the technology. Nintendo has the right solution with the glasses-free 3DS which is now $170. That low price point means that the portable system will be the first 3D display that many gamers own. It’ll also be the first 3D still camera and 3D video recording gadget that they own. But the most important feature has always been the games. Nintendo had a lackluster 3DS launch lineup when the handheld came out in March; PilotWings and Nintedogs + Cats didn’t cut it. However, four tempting games that released in the second half of this year makes the 3DS worth a glasses-free second look.

The Games

Uncharted 3 3D

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (PS3)
Sony has been the biggest proponent of 3D gaming, so it’s no surprise that Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is the best-looking 3D game that you can own. The game plays like a cinematic adventure film, as if George Lucas was still making good Indiana Jones movies, and it already looks phenomenal in 2D. Therefore, in 3D, its picturesque desert landscapes and shocking, danger-filled scenarios (usually in the form of explosions), allow Uncharted 3 to make Sony’s case for 3D gaming. This is the game to own if you want to game in 3D.

Killzone 3

Killzone 3 (PS3)
Killzone 3 is the former king of 3D on the PlayStation 3 and the best-looking 3D title next to Uncharted 3. That’s because this ice planet-set first-person shooter, now these days for $35, was built with 3D in mind from the ground up. Looking down your M82 assault rifle’s sights at Helghast enemies is impressive in stereoscopic. The technology is even more useful when you’re hovering around levels using the game’s new jet packs. Just make sure your 3D glasses are charged. There’s nothing worse than having them go out on you when you’re trying to land that jet pack on a slippery, ice-covered platform.

LA Noire

LA Noire: The Complete Edition (PC)
LA Noire: The Complete Edition is the DLC-included re-release of Rockstar Games’ 1947-set open-world game from earlier this year. While this enhanced version also just came out for the PS3 and Xbox 360, LA Noire is only in 3D on the PC. That means you’re going to want to be wearing a pair of Nvidia’s 3D Vision 2 glasses when patrolling the streets of downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood. An on-duty police officer wearing what comes across as funky-looking sunglasses wouldn’t fit in anywhere else but Hollywood.

Witcher 2

Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings (PC)
The Witcher 2 is another 3D exclusive game for the PC that uses Nvidia’s 3D Vision system. Of course, that may change because developer CD Projekt RED is bringing its stunning-looking RPG sequel to the Xbox 360 in the first half of 2012. The Polish developer has yet to confirm if stereoscopic 3D graphics are coming along for the ride. No matter, PC gamers can experience the game’s awesome presentation in 3D right now and do it for just $40. The Xbox 360 port, which isn’t out yet and may or may not be in 3D, is going to retail for a full $60. This is one case in which waiting doesn’t have its benefits.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (PC)
Cataclysm is the first Nvidia 3D Vision-ready World of Warcraft game, meaning this MMORPG expansion pack is 3D right out of the box with no patch required. Upgrading to it will not only raise your level cap by 5, but it’ll raise the graphics off of your 3D monitor, giving your WoW a little more “wow.” Unfortunately, playing Cataclysm in 3D vs. 2D won’t help you pay Blizzard the relentless subscription fee or allow you to see the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria release date magically pop off of the screen.

Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City (PS3, 360, PC)
When Batman: Arkham Asylum re-released last year in Game of the Year form, it supported 3D even if all you owned was a simple 2D TV. TriOviz Inficolor 3D technology made it possible, but it also made it look like a post-production 3D movie. The game wasn’t created by the developers with 3D in mind from the beginning. The Dark Knight’s after-the-fact 3D status changed with the release of Batman: Arkham City thanks to its native support of 3D TVs out of the box. There’s still the TriOviz option for those 2D sets, but Batman looks better in active shutter glasses than a pair of old-school red and cyan specs.

Assassin's Creed Revelations First Details Confirmed

Assassin's Creed: Revelations (PS3, 360, PC)
Ezio is on his way out, but Ubisoft is sending him on his way in 3D this year. Like Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations supports 3D whether you’re using a pair of active shutter glasses or TriOviz Inficolor glasses. The company did bring 3D to the Prince of Persia Trilogy and Splint Cell Trilogy earlier this year, but those were PS3-exclusive compilations. AC: Revelations spans all three platforms, so you’ll see the Renaissance in 3D whether you’re playing on a PS3, Xbox 360 or PC. The best part is that you’ll have a better chance of telling whether or not a ledge is scalable BEFORE you try to jump to it.

Gears of War 3

Gears of War 3 (360)
Microsoft isn’t pushing 3D on Xbox 360 nearly as hard as Sony is on the PS3. But with Gears of War 3, the company finally hopped from the Cole Train to the 3D gaming bandwagon. There’s just one problem: GOW3 doesn’t look quite as good with 3D enabled. Colors bleed, the resolution takes a dive and it doesn’t add much depth to the overall experience. It’s still interesting to check out if only because there’s a lack of 3D games for the system and the campaign mode is impressive in 2D. So, Gears 3 should be on your wish list, but for more reasons than 3D gaming.

3d Halo Anniversary

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (360)
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary looks better in 3D than Gears of War 3. However, while seeing Master Chief thawed out in the third dimension and proceed to take on the Covenant is cool in 3D, its graphics overhaul doesn’t compare to what Epic Games has done in Gears 3. For Xbox 360 fans, that boils down to a choice of a game with awesome 2D visuals, but so-so 3D support (Gears 3) or a game with okay-looking uprezzed graphics, but superior use of 3D (Halo: CE Anniversary). The options aren’t amazing, but still warrant an alternate spot on your wish list.

God of War 3D

God of War Origins Collection (PS3)
Although I would’ve loved to see God of War 3 in 3D, having both Ghost of Sparta and Chains of Olympus reworked for the PS3 in 3D is a pretty nice compromise. The two PSP-turned-PS3 games are part of the new God of War Origins Collection, which means that they weren’t built for Sony’s 3D console from the ground up. That being said, developer Ready at Dawn worked its magic to port the 480 x 272 screen and fit it to a 1080p console. It’s support of 3D during epic boss battles may or may not have you screaming, “My Zeus!”

Mario Kart 7

Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
Nintendo isn’t hiding the fact that this is the 7th installment of Mario Kart. But, while you have been able to play six previous Mario Kart games before Mario Kart 7, none of them have ever been in 3D. This is also the first game in the series that allows you to deploy a hang-gliding attachment for extra air time and a rear propeller for underwater track segments. It’s not quite the Diddy Kong Racing hovercraft and airplane mode we fondly remember on the N64, but it’s certainly a game changing element along with the debut of 3D in Mario Kart.

Super Mario 3D

Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
The Nintendo 3DS finally has a Mario platforming game with Super Mario 3D Land and he’s come dressed for the occasion with plenty of power-up suits. This includes the return of the raccoon Tanooki Mario suit from Super Mario Bros. 3 as well as a new transformation in the Mario universe, the Boomerang suit. Finally, you’ll be able to return the “favor” to the annoying Boomerang Bros. by wielding this enemy weapon. It just may be enough for me to retire New Super Mario Bros. from the cartridge slot.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)
There’s no better than on Nintendo 3DS than Zelda: Ocarina of Time because, frankly, there’s no better game than Zelda: Ocarina of Time. No matter how many times Nintendo remakes this N64 classic, fans of the series will still buy it. In addition to having Links adventure come alive in 3D, Nintendo also made sure to include a retweaked Master Quest in this version of the game. The company also included a new Boss Challenge mode just in case you weren’t satisfied with getting killed by the Bongo Bongo boss the first million times.

Star Fox 3D

Star Fox 64 3D (3DS)
If you tried to Google “Do a Barrel Roll” more than once this past month, then you should probably add Star Fox 64 3D to your wish list right away. There’s no extra content like Zelda 3D or online multiplayer because Nintendo only went with local multiplayer support. However, flying through space and dodging asteroids is made easier on the 3DS as long as you’re not using the cumbersome gyro controls to pilot your Arwing.

3D On A Budget

 Holiday Buyers Guide 2011: 3D Gifts -- The Gadgets And Games In 3D

All of these products are great and all but what if you're looking for 3D entertainment on a tight budget. Trioviz 3D glasses use INFICOLOR tech to allow those wearing it to experience 3D. Costing about $30, these glasses won't break the bank. They are compataible with most HD 2D TVs too. There are a bunch of video games currently on shelves with 3D settings. With these shades you won't need a 3D TV to enjoy them.

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