Can My Laptop, Monitor, Or TV Do 3D? [Frequently Asked Questions]

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can my tv do 3dThis gets asked about once a week on our questions and answers section, so I’m writing this in the hopes that maybe it’ll clear things up for some readers. The short answers is: no, there’s a 99% chance you can’t watch 3D movies or play games in 3D on your computer. No piece of software is going to change that, and here’s why. If you have a 3DTV though, read on to find out what else you need to get it all working.

Please note: I’m not going to address Red/Blue pseudo-3D in this article. Any computer can display something in red/blue as this article from 2009 showed you. It’s an old technology, the quality is terrible, and this is not what is referred to as 3D in the year 2011. You can also view 3D on any monitor by just going cross-eyed if you really want.

It’s not about your graphics card

Any modern video card is capable of outputting a signal that can used to drive a 3D display. It’s often said that you need NVidia, but that’s only because they’ve partnered with numerous manufacturers to produce NVidia branded 3dVision products which are relatively easy to setup (or require no set up at all in the case of certain laptops)

can my tv do 3d

AMD/ATi cards can also output 3D, but there are no ATi branded 3D monitor/glasses packages you can buy, and the drivers provided by ATI do not support 3D natively. Ignoring the monitor side of things for a moment, if you have an ATi card then you’ll also need some third party drivers that convert the signal from your ATi into whatever format is needed by your display, and those drivers have an additional cost.

The most recent iteration of ATi Radeon drivers have introduced some sort of native 3D output. You still need the additional drivers, but they have partnered with ATi to offer a special free licence for ATi owners.

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Display Device

This is the most important part of your setup, and this is the reason you can’t get 3D on any old LCD monitor. Normal LCD screens simply don’t have the capability to display 3D images using either of the more popular techniques outlined below. (Images from Panasonic)

Active 3D displays – the kind that have glasses which need a battery – require a monitor with a very high refresh rate to send twice as many image frames as usual. Your typical LCD display is simply too slow to display images at the speed required.

can my monitor do 3d

Passive 3D displays – with their lightweight glasses – require a special filter inside the monitor which polarize the light.

can my monitor do 3d

Lenticular 3D displays – such as the Nintendo 3DS, which don’t require glasses at all – have a special filter inside which angles the different images directly into your eyes. There are no consumer level lenticular displays currently available.

That’s why your average monitor cannot do 3D. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

The Drivers

Okay, we’ve established that your video card is technically capable of 3D, but chances are your monitor isn’t. Assuming you do actually own either a 3DTV, or purchased a specific monitor and glasses package deal – now what?

Nvidia card + 3D Ready monitor package: If you ‘re willing to purchase a new monitor, this is the easiest route to go. You can either buy a packaged deal with glasses + monitor, or you can buy a compatible 3D Vision Ready monitor and get the glasses separately. Either way is likely to set you back about $500, not including the graphics card itself.

Compatible 3DTV + Recent NVidia Card: You need to purchase a special driver called 3DTV Play from NVidia for $40. This will only work with more recent Nvidia cards (Certain members of the GT series), and only if your 3DTV is compatible with HDMI 1.4a (check the compatibility list here).

3DTV + Older Nvidia Card: You need to purchase third party drivers for about $50.

3DTV + ATi Card: You will need to download additional third party drivers, but you may or may not need to purchase a licence for them.

In all these cases, third party drivers refers to either TriDef, or iZ3D.

You will also need to investigate exactly which 3D output format your 3DTV (or projector) requires. There’s quite a variety of formats out there, so you’ll need to look this up specifically for your TV and set the drivers correctly. If you don’t understand the manual, please post your model number in the comments and I’d be happy to look this up for you.

The Software

You don’t need any additional software to play games in 3D. Just the launch the game in full-screen, and the drivers should automatically kick in.

What about movies though?

Firstly, there are ways to magically turn a regular non-3D into a 3D movie but the result is terrible and I’m not going to talk about it here. I’m going to assume you have either specifically downloaded 3D videos, or have a 3D BluRay disc.

3D BluRay: All you need is a Bluray player capable of outputting the 3D. Cyberlink PowerDVD is the only player I know of that can do this currently, and it should have come with your computer or BluRay drive. Obviously you can’t play BluRay disks on your computer if you don’t actually have a BluRay drive.

can my monitor do 3d

3D-AVIs: These are a specific 3D file format and require a special player. NVidia bundles an appropriate 3D player, but for non-NVidia users you’ll need to purchase Stereoscopic Player from here.

can any monitor do 3d

Side-By-Side AVIs: These are kind you might download from a torrent site if you were so inclined, usually in the form of “3d blu-ray rips”. They come in a regular AVI format, and you can identify them easily because when you open them, they’ll be two of the same movie playing side by side. These can be played full-screen directly in VLC if you’re connecting to a 3DTV that understand side-by-side format; but to play them on a 3DVision or other 3D monitor, or a 3DTV that doesn’t understand side-by-side format, you’ll need the NVidia 3D player or Stereoscopic player that let’s you set the output format.

can my tv do 3d

I really hope this has cleared it up for some of you. The truth is that there are so many different formats out there for both displaying and storing 3D, and even for a geek like me getting them talking to each other is no easy task; so it’s understandable to be a little confused. If you’d like any more details or clarification on the points mentioned here, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments.

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Comments (64)
  • RockZ4EveR

    Thank you James,

    Am from India and I want to buy LG 55 inches tv and therez one model here available and it is LG 55UF850T and it is priced around 2300usd.
    But it costs half of the price at rest of the world,,,
    So if I wait around 3 months then is there any price drop and equal to the price of universal,,,,
    I think If I wait 3 months then I can get it below 1100usd,,,, right?
    Sorry for noob questions

  • RockZ4EveR

    Million thanks for the lightning reply sir,,,,,

    Am still noob here,,,,

    I think 3d TV can process what powerdvd software can do in pc,,,,
    I think therez no difference more then that between non 3d FHD and 3d TV.

    Or the display of 3d TV is different then normal FHD?

    if therez no difference in display tech. Then the process of software part can done by powerdvd and I hope using a normal FHD tv it as monitor ( just an external display to laptop ), we can watch all the sbs content in 3D with passive 3d glasses,,,,

    Hope u got my idea n confusion and clear my doubt b4 I try my own

    Thank you

    • James Bruce

      The display technology is different. A non-3dtv cannot display 3d content, regardless of the software.

  • RockZ4EveR

    Hi,,, I have a doubt and need a simple answer buddy.

    I want to connect (planning to buy one, but I think it’s better to wait for another six months, until HDR and Dolby VISION become standard,meanwhile I think it’s better to buy a normal FHD) a LG normal 55inch HD TV to my laptop Toshiba Satellite P875-S7200 laptop ( it may support HDMI 1.4 ) and make it as monitor ( I think as long as it’s a monitor, it can show 100% same what the laptop can show) and using powerdvd 15, I want to watch the SBS 3D rips from torrents using passive 3d glasses.

    So can I get all the 3D with depth????????

    Am using external sound card creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 and connected it to active 5.1 speakers speakers, am enjoying good 5.1 Sound through them.

    I think all the process of 3D can be done by powerdvd and TV is just a monitor, just a copy to laptop monitor,,,,, so why the hell we need 3D TV?

    I hope u understood my idea and can clear my doubt,,,,

    Thank you sir

    • James Bruce

      Your laptop, and that TV, cannot display 3D – passive, or active.

      Passive glasses require that the images destined for the left and right eye are polarized differently. You need to change the glass / optics within the monitor for it to support passive 3D.

      The same is not true with active 3D – old monitors had a such a high refresh rate, that using half of them for the left eye and half for the right eye could in fact be done in software, so as long as you could sync that flashing up with your active glasses, 3D would work. But modern TVs dont support that.

      So in short, no, it’s not possible. Sorry!

  • RafieMY

    lol, cross-eyed really got me…

  • Wills Isingoma

    Hi James, My Name is Wills Isingoma, From Uganda-Africa.
    Me and My partner recently bought two Units of

    We had earlier bought 4600 3D glasses of (Online Shop Special Offer For USA, 2014 Hot 3D Paper Glasses, Blue Red Glasses, White, Free shipping to USA Only|Aliexpress Mobile – and they cant work with the above projector.

    What would be the most affordable/inexpensive Passive 3D Glasses with for 3D Projectors) or for the Epson above? or would you advise on how to use the 4600 glasses that we already purchased?


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Affiliate Disclamer

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
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