So you hear all the talk about how great 3D is, but no way you’re buying a new TV with 3D built in (don’t forget you’ll need a new Blu-ray player that has 3D too). Having to start from scratch sucks, but if you could upgrade for just a few bucks somehow, well that’d be a different story.
So okay, it’s story time courtesy of Darbee Visual Presence. Their Darblet accessory is about the size of a smartphone and has all the electronics necessary to create depth information, which makes images appear to separate from one another. No way it can create real 3D, but it CAN “fool” your eyes by giving your mind something to chew on.
So here’s the setup: take the HDMI cable out of the TV and plug it into the Darblet’s “in” socket. Connect another HDMI between its “out” socket and the TV. That’s it, except for plugging in the power brick and putting batteries in the remote (don’t bother with the tiny buttons on the Darblet).
Ignore the universal capabilities of the remote for now — its real purpose is to let you switch between the three modes that alter the visual effect: HiDef, which is best for playing discs and TV video; Gaming, that trades off detail for greater depth and image separation so CALL OF DUTY really can get in your face; and Full Pop, that pumps up the “depth cues” like full steam ahead and damn the torpedoes.
So how does it look? Projecting from my PS3 onto a 100-inch screen means I should be able to see the differences when switching between the modes while running the same 2D scene over and over again in Lion King and Captain America. I also use the “demo” setting to cycle any mode I select on/off so I can concentrate on seeing the effect — providing that I freeze the image first. This works really well with a news “talking head” since you can focus in on how he/she reacts to the background as you change modes. Same goes for the split-screen effect that shows normal on one side and the 3D effect on the other. [Just to note, if you have a 3D-capable player and TV, the Darblet modes can still be used to make the 3D become even more pronounced]
What can I say? I’m certainly seeing something different now that the Darblet’s attached — characters and objects in the foreground seem to “pop” like they were in 3D, at least in a way that my mind can accept. I also found that while HiDef isn’t the most intense effect, it maintains the color palette and overall brightness best (and seems less annoying to my eyes after a couple of hours have passed).
As to running games, the Gaming mode seems to “push” the foreground at you a lot harder (the level of contrast goes up) so as to create a greater sense of depth compared to the other modes. Full Pop takes everything to the extreme and frankly I just can’t see where to use it — but its presence can’t hurt I guess.
I also like the fact that you can “dial” up or down the level of the mode on the fly with the remote — since it’s all about perception anyway, why shouldn’t it be what looks best to me?
This whole image enhancement perception thing means you can’t just say “it works” or “it doesn’t work” as far as delivering a 3D-like effect. I can say though that it does alter the way you’re viewing the image and for many, they’ll think they’re seeing 3D-like effects. And for a cost of $249 that lets you keep both your TV and video playback devices as is while letting you enjoy your existing home video library and other 2D content, that could be more than darn good enough.
Check out Marshal’s reviews of The Coolest Stuff from the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show or lust after the new Bentley Continental with us.