Similar in many ways to the Optoma 3D-XL ($400 street, 4 stars) that I recently reviewed, the ViewSonic VP3D1 ($300 street) video processor is designed to solve the same problem. Quite simply, it’s the missing link that lets 3D-ready projectors show Blu-ray 3D discs and 3D TV signals in 3D. More important, it does the job it’s meant for, and does it reasonably well.
As of this writing, today’s low-cost 3D-ready projectors all have HDMI 1.3 ports, which means they can’t accept 3D signals from sources that require HDMI 1.4. Those sources include Blu-ray players, cable TV, FIOS, and the like. The VP3D1 video processor converts the signal from an HDMI 1.4 source to a form the projectors can handle, so you can watch in 3D at 720p HD resolution.
VP3D1 View SlideshowSee all (4) slides
Physically, the VP3D1 has a sleeker look to it than the Optoma 3D-XL, with a similar matte black case, but a glossy black front panel. The difference translates to more of a consumer electronics look and feel, as opposed to the 3D-XL’s more techy look. The ViewSonic version is also much larger, at 1.2 by 16.9 by 8.2 inches, but about the same weight, at 2.7 pounds.
VP3D1 Easy to Setup, Easy to Use
The back panel on the VP3D1 offers same key set of connectors as the Optoma 3D-XL, with two HDMI 1.4a input ports and one HDMI 1.3 output. In addition, there’s a USB 2.0 port for service and firmware upgrades. Setup is easy. Connect video sources to one or both HDMI inputs, connect your projector to the HDMI output, and plug in the power cord. That’s it.
Using it is also easy. To watch in 2D at resolutions up to 1080p (assuming your projector can handle it), turn on your video source, projector, and the VP3D1. You may or may not also have to press the button on the front of the unit to pick the right HDMI input.
To watch in 3D, follow the same steps, but also set the source and projector to turn on 3D. For sources that use side-by-side format, like FIOS, you also have to press the SBS button on the front of the unit. Then put on DLP-Link glasses, turn them on, and watch.
I tested the VP3D1 with both FIOS, which uses side-by-side 3D format, and a Sony PlayStation 3 playing Blu-ray 3D discs. For the projector, I used the Editors’ Choice Optoma GT720 ($800 street, 4 stars), which offers a native 720p resolution. Once set up, everything worked as promised. However, I ran into a small complication setting up the PlayStation.
Part of the PlayStation 3 setup involves the audio settings, with Manual and Automatic setup choices. When I chose Automatic, however, the PlayStation insisted that the HDMI device had no audio support. After several failed attempts, I chose Manual instead and set the options myself. The good news is that everything then worked.
The bad news is that the manual setup may be difficult for less knowledgeable users, since first you have to figure out the right settings, and the PlayStation warns that if you pick the wrong ones you can blow out your speakers. It’s not clear how common the problem I experienced will be, however. ViewSonic says that it has not been able to reproduce it and is still looking into it.
VP3D1 Additional Issues
According to ViewSonic, the VP3D1 should work with any 3D-ready projector with DLP-Link support and an HDMI input. As for the video source, the company says that in addition to the sources I tested with (PlayStation 3 and FIOS), it’s compatible with any source that uses any of eight 3D formats: side-by-side at 1080i50 and 1080i60 and both frame-pack and top and bottom at 1080p24, 720p50, and 720p60.
For most people, the choice between the VP3D1 and Optoma 3D-XL is pretty much a toss-up. The VP3D1 lacks the Optoma 3D-XL’s ability to use two units in tandem with two projectors to give you full 1080p 3D, but this isn’t much of an issue. Few people are likely to consider setting up two projectors this way, since it’s the sort of project that’s best left to professional installers and extremely expensive home theater installations.
The Viewsonic VP3D1 costs less than the Optoma 3D-XL, but there’s less to that difference than you might think, since the Optoma 3D-XL comes with one pair of 3D glasses and the VP3D1 includes none. Buy a pair of glasses with the VP3D1, and the price is essentially the same for either unit. Ultimately, what the VP3D1 gives you is no more and no less than a well matched alternative to the Optoma 3D-XL that works just as well, is just as easy to set up and use, and, most important, is just as easy to recommend.