When Asus offered me the chance to test out the new 3D laptop, I wasn’t immediately convinced at first but soon my perception changed.
s soon as I headed home after visiting Asus’ office, I first looked for my Nintendo 3DS XL and played Super Mario 3D World. I can’t tell how badly I wanted to play a game in 3D after I spent a brief time with the new ProArt Studiobook 16, a notebook that lets you see the content in three-dimension without using any special glasses. I’ve always been fascinated by 3D technology, but what I saw during my hands-on experience with Asus’ 3D laptop was more realistic and convincing, giving me hope that the world is finally ready to embrace this technology.
Here’s my early takeaway from the return of 3D technology, courtesy of Asus.
Frankly, when I entered Asus’ office I was not too excited to see a laptop with 3D technology. I have experienced 3D on TVs at various tech shows over the years. However, as the years passed interest in third-dimension technology started to lose and it became impractical to a point that manufacturers completely abandoned the format. Now, the only way to experience this tech is to watch a 3D version of a movie in theatres but that requires passive glasses to be worn which I find uncomfortable.
But I was beyond stocked while using Asus’ 3D laptop, even if it was for a limited time and that too in a controlled environment. The first time I saw a clip of James Cameron’s Avatar being played on the ProArt Studiobook 16 3D OLED, the visuals on the screen extended into three dimensions, creating an illusion of an imaginary and magical experience without using any special glasses. Visuals in 3D space seem as if either they are floating in the air or standing on a nearby desk. It’s hard to describe in words, but I can tell you that characters and objects that were displayed on the screen give an illusion that they are in a physical form. For a few seconds, I completely felt distracted from my current reality and transported to the world created by Cameron.
This was possible due to the notebook’s 3D OLED panel and eye-tracking technology that allows users to experience content in the third dimension without the need for bulky glasses. Asus calls this technology “Spatial Vision.” The glasses-free 3D effect is achieved with a lenticular lens and advanced eye-tracking camera technology—there are two cameras (one for each eye) located just above the screen. The display then creates images for each eye that are interlaced to trick your brain to create the 3D effect.
I can tell you this: glasses-free 3D technology isn’t a gimmick. It’s real, and it works. But that’s not to say Asus’ Spatial Vision technology is perfect. During my limited time with the ProArt Studiobook 16 3D OLED, I noticed that the eye-tracking had some issues. The notebook’s screen was slightly distorted and the camera took some time to track my eyes. An Asus spokesperson who flew down from Singapore to demonstrate the device told me that a user has to be within a distance from the laptop—roughly up to 45 degrees off the centre of the display for the eye-tracking to work properly. But once calibrated, the tracking worked surprisingly well, and the image appeared sharpened enough with no lag or headache-inducing blurriness, even after I tilted my head to different angles. I think the visuals were also smooth due to the screen’s 120Hz refresh rate. One can easily switch the laptop back to 2D mode at any time and back to 3D again.
Several brands have bragged about their cutting-edge technologies during hands-on sessions and early demos. In the case of ProArt Studiobook 16 3D OLED, glasses-free 3D technology is not new but what Asus did was look at the existing space and develop and refine it to create a better version. Putting glasses-free 3D technology into a laptop is a step forward, but not a game changer. Not yet, at least.
The Studiobook is not targeted at mainstream users, like you and me. Rather, the notebook is aimed at those who work on 3D visuals, someone who is into 3D modelling, printing, and design. After all, the laptop is pitched as the world’s first 3D OLED mobile workstation for creators. It’s a high-end laptop, with top-of-the-line specs including a 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13980HX processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 40 Series Laptop GPU, up to 64 GB of upgradeable memory and ultrafast storage.
I could already imagine the potential of a 3D laptop in the landscape of the metaverse, with developers and creators being the prime audience for the Studiobook. But I am also excited about watching movies and playing games in 3D without glasses. I remember when Nintendo 3DS XL made its debut years ago – and it was pretty epic. But the 3D technology still seems a long way from realizing the promise of the medium but I hope Asus’ Studiobook will help change the narrative and open a new market for 3D laptops.