Friday, November 4, 2011

The Chinavasion 3D viewer thing

I ordered a "3D Stereoscopic 8 Inch HD Photo Frame and Video Player (Glasses-Free 3D)" (a real mouthful!) from Chinavasion on Saturday and it arrived yesterday (Thursday).

It's a 2D and 3D multimedia  photo and video viewer and music player with an 8" glasses-free display. It appears to use "parallax barrier" technology to feed a different view to each eye depending on location and proximity to the screen. In other have to hold it right.

First things first  - DEEP breath - it worked out of the box. I hate ordering stuff and having it arrive dead.

Stereo 3D image. Click for full size. Cross your eyes to view.

It (must do something about the horrendously long name) comes with a simple, attractive and easy-to-use interface. Left to right  that lets you choose among "My Favourites", "Explore" the device, "Photos", "Video", "Music", "Ebook" and "Setup" options. It has some internal storage (that also contains the system files) and you can choose to use that, or an external SDHC card (up to 32GB) or an external (independently-powered) USB hard disk. The top image is of the list of 3D videos I had copied to an SDHC card.

The controls are all buttons. This is not a touch screen device. One button is a 5- way control that you move up or down, left or right or push in. Be gentle with it because when that button dies, you won't be able to drive this device anymore. That said, it doesn't feel far.  Overall, the device has a nice, solid feel. Other controls include a menu button for multimedia control and a back button that does double-duty, via long-press, as the switch between 2D and 3D modes. There is a power switch and a separate sliding on-off switch.

Stereo 3D image. Click for full size. Cross eyes to view.

What can it do? Quite a bit.

It can play 3D stills from both my Fujifilm Finepix  Real 3D W3 digital camera perfectly and - sort of - displays my LG Optimus 3D camera. It distorts the 4:3 (aspect ratio) images from the LG and presents them as 16:9. But the 3D effect is there and the colour is right. But it isn't perfect. The LG doesn't do 16:9 as stills (though it does for video) in the current firmware. 

It can play 3D video perfectly from the LG Optimus 3D (They are mp4 files) and also from Magix Movie Edit Pro MX Plus. I use Magix to produce edited side-by-side squeezed mp4 video files for upload to YouTube. 

It can't (correctly) play the 3D AVI files from the Fuji camera. If I put it in 3D mode, it messes up the alignment completely and the result is correct sound, shame about the messy video.

But if I process the Fuji 3D video files through Magix Movie Edit Pro MX Plus into side-by-side squeezed 3D mp4 files (as above), it will happily play them. I haven't tried any other formats as output. This is the optimal format for YouTube and I'm happy to re-use those files on this device. It only takes a handful of minutes on my PC to convert even a large video, so not really a problem.  

If an image or video isn't recognised as 3D by default, then you just long-press the Return button and it puts the device into 3D mode manually. It works. 

Note: It plays these same original Fuji 3D video files just fine as 2D video, by default. It seems to be able to play pretty much any kind of 2D video....including *.mkv files so that's a plus right there. 

The display does a good job of 3D - both depth and colour - provided you have it at just the right angle up / down and left / right. 

The device supports USB thumb /flash drives; self-powered external USB hard drives (no size limit specified) and SDHC flash chips up to pretty much anything. You connect it your PC and copy files onto it....or use a card reader and copy them onto the chip...then insert in the device. Whatever.

It plays mp3 sound files. I haven't tried any others. It sounds pretty good, too. The potential for audio disaster existed....and they avoided it.  I have yet to try it with headphones. You can also line connect it to a stereo or external sound device to play on other speakers.

It works really well for the NZ$170+ shipping ($38) I paid for it.  For what I paid, it's good enough. I'm loving the big 8" screen.

Do you want one? I don't know. You might. At least now you know someone who bought one and is happy with it.

One thing I did try was taking a 3D photo of the 3D display with my 3D camera. It sort of works! It might get better with some practice. I used the LG which has lenses only 25mm apart. I suspect it would work better with the Fuji which has lenses 75mm human eyes.

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