Ahead of Its Time Tech

Sharp Actius RD3D

Year: 2003

What It Was: The first autostereo 3D notebook that displayed 3D images on its 15-inch screen without requiring the use of special glasses.

Why It Failed: The notebook’s performance slowed to a crawl when 3D visuals were activated, and the effects were noticeable only within a very narrow angle; if you moved your head a bit, the 3D image disappeared. Worse, the RD3D caused eye strain and cost an astronomical $3,299. The lack of compelling 3D content and apps would seal this machine’s fate as a mere novelty.

Why It Was Important: Sharp pioneered the idea of 3D in notebooks, a technology that would take another six years to mature and return in the form of the Acer Aspire 5738DG ($779) and ASUS G51J 3D ($1,699). Although these laptops require special high-tech shades to achieve their 3D effect, the viewing angles are much wider. The Aspire 5738DG uses technology from a company called TriDef that is more affordable and enables 3D viewing of existing 2D content, such as DVD movies. Nvidia’s more ambitious and expensive 3D Vision technology requires a high-performance 120-MHz display and powers the ASUS notebook, which is optimized for the hottest games.

Current Chance of Technology’s Success: Fair. Acer and ASUS’ notebooks offer 3D experiences that are very close to what moviegoers are experiencing, though Nvidia’s pricier technology is more akin to what Avatar fans experienced in theaters. “Today’s 3D notebook require you to wear glasses, but the visuals are far superior to Sharp’s,” said NPD Group’s Rubin. “The question is whether or not consumers want to wear them for extended periods, especially gamers.”

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6. Sharp Actius RD3D

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