Anyone who visited the Gadget Show at the NEC this year will know that much of the event was obsessed with showing off all the latest 3D computer technology in the wake of the massive success of Avatar. 2010 has become 3D Year and all the major computer manufacturers are jumping on board the supposed gravy train: the ASUS G51J 3D notebook is simply the latest evolution.
At the end of last year, Acer brought out the Aspire AS5738, a 15.6-inch laptop with a native resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels that produced a 3D effect through a combination of polaroid glasses and TriDef 3D software, which effectively transformed 2D images into 3D. The problem with presenting ‘true’ 3D on a laptop was finding a way to incorporate NVIDIA’s new 3D Vision technology (which was prohibitively expensive), and the ASUS G51J 3D is the first to do that.
When you open the box you’ll find a host of goodies including a rucksack, a smart gamer’s mouse and the all-important 3D kit which comprises a USB connected infrared emitter that looks like a small pyramid, together with a pair of active-shutter glasses with a power button on the top. Once the emitter is plugged in, the glasses are charged up and the setup wizard completed, you’re ready to start, after tapping the Republic of Gamers logo above the middle of the keyboard.
Crucially, the LED-backlit display has a 120Hz refresh rate that helps the eye combine two images into one and keep up with fast action. However, it seems astonishing that with all the technological advancement since the Aspire AS5738, ASUS’s new wunderkind has not increased the screen resolution beyond 1366 x 768. So despite having a decent Blu-ray player installed as standard, you still can’t watch Blu-ray movies in Full HD unless you use the HDMI port to feed them to your HD TV.
Ironically, ASUS supplies you with a copy of the Avatar video game which shows off the 3D depth of perspective extremely well once you’ve blinked rapidly a few times to help your eyes adjust. You’ll find your eyes tiring after a comparatively short time, though, and we wonder how long the novelty value will last for.
As there are so few 3D movies available at the moment, the chances are you’ll be using the effect for gameplaying: fortunately NVIDIA has an increasingly large catalogue of compatible games to choose from. All the more reason, therefore, for ASUS to make sure that they increase the relatively dim screen for their next model.
Aside from the 3D wizardry, the ASUS G51J 3D is one of the sexiest looking laptops on the market, with its striking designer cover, cool black interior, stunningly backlit keyboard and metal encased touch pad. The chiclet style keyboard is one of the finest we’ve seen, too, both for its easy but firm responsiveness and for its economic yet sensible layout (they’ve even overcome the ‘squashed arrow keys’ problem of similar models).
There’s plenty of power under the bonnet as well, courtesy of the Intel Core i7 CPU clocked at 1.60GHz, 8GB of RAM and the NVIDIA GeForce GTS 360M graphics card. As you’d expect for a heavy-duty gaming laptop, battery life is minimal (around 2 hours at most) and heat output is considerable, but on the performance side the machine runs quietly and efficiently thanks to an inbuilt eco system.
However, improved technology also comes with a hefty price tag, especially when you remember that the Aspire AS5738 only cost around £600 compared to the £1,700 here. So ultimately you’ll have to decide whether being at the cutting edge of 3D advances is worth the outlay.
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