Tru3D Active-to-Passive 3D Polarizer Add-on Review

November 21st, 2011 · 14 Comments · 3D HDTV, DLP, Front Projection

Tru3d Polarizer

Lets say you into 3D. Lets also say you think active shutter glasses are the work of the devil.

Well Tru3D has a solution for you: a converter that turns any 3D projector requiring active shutter glasses into a 3D that only requires cheap passive 3D glasses, plus all the brightness benefits that go along with that.

Background

All 3D projectors under $15k for the home market currently use “active” 3D technology. This means they require active shutter glasses, battery operated LCD lenses shutter in sync with the image to allow/not allow light to enter your left or right eye. In addition to the cumbersome nature if these glasses, they reduce the apparent light output of the projector. Even a bright projector will be dimmer in 3D mode while wearing the glasses. A bright 3D projector, in 3D mode, will offer marginal-to-mediocre brightness. A marginally bright projector, will be outright dim in 3D mode.

Most movie theaters use a different method, called passive 3D. The glasses required for this method have simple circular polarized lenses. These let far more light through to the eyes. Passive 3D puts some of the heavy lifting on the projector (instead of splitting the burden with the glasses, as with active). It also requires the use of a screen that maintains the polarization of the light, which most don’t. These two factors are why you don’t see more passive 3D projectors for the home.

Enter Tru3D, with their “Polarization Modulator,” a device to convert an active 3D projector into a passive 3D projector.

The core of the Tru3D system is a single-plane polarizer. Mounted in front of a projector lens, it twists the light depending on which eyes information is displayed. On your face all you need are cheap circular polarized glasses like you steal borrow get at most 3D movie theaters. The only trick is you need a silver screen that keeps the polarization of the incoming light. This, of course, is an added cost.

If you have a big family or have big movie parties requiring a lot of glasses, this could be cost effective. Also, if you’ve got a huge screen, the extra brightness possible with non-active glasses 3D will be extremely welcome.

Tru3d Polarizer

Setup

My review sample was an Optoma HD33 with Tru3D rig attached. They sell this setup, for $3,300.  Separately, the Tru3D Polarizer is $1,499 and will work with any “single-lens stereoscopic 3D projector (up to 6K Lumens) “. The polarizer hooks up to a small box that itself plugs into the service port on the back of the projector.

My review sample also came with a Da-Lite silver screen, though it was a small portable unit that isn’t fair to review on its own. As far as screens that maintain the polarization, this silver Da-Lite fits the bill. Stewart makes a  screen that is said to work well with both 2D and polarized 3D.

Firing up the projector, I can see a potential issue right away. The polarizer acts as a mirror, reflecting a bright image exactly backwards. I calculated about 10% of the brightness of your projector is now lopped off and shot backwards. So tabletop placement is out of the question, as is any placement that would put the polarizer in your line of sight. Depending on your room, this reflected image will make your back wall a second screen. At least mostly, the bottom part of the reflected image hits the projector itself.

The fix for this would be fairly easy, some sort of black matte cloth acting as a sort of shroud between the lens and the polarizer (but not much more, you don’t want to cover any of the projector’s vents).

Even in home theater we not immune to the laws of physics, so all that light bouncing backwards is light not going on the screen. So right away some of the advantage of a passive 3D system is being lost (i.e., the added brightness). It didn’t seem to matter much.

Tru3D Polarizer closeup

 

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Testing

The 3D effect is quite good, with a lot of depth. There’s also a naturalness to it I find lacking in most active shutter systems. Maybe it’s a subconscious revulsion of the shutters. As far as 3D goes, it’s more relaxing to watch than many other 3D projectors, though how much of this is the extreme brightness of the small silver screen in my review sample, I honestly can’t say. I did get the mild eye strain I’ve gotten with some active shutter glasses though, so that’s something. There was some slight cross-talk, but not any more than I’ve seen on some other 3D displays. It had a slight red tint, but it wasn’t that overly noticeble. If you move off to the side, the 3D effect flattens a little, but not badly. Overall Irate the 3D as “very good.

How much light is lost with this system is debatable. The passive glasses themselves certainly seem to pass more light, compared to active shutter glasses. Putting them on doesn’t have the intense sunglasses at night feeling you get with actives. When you add in the light lost to the reflection, plus what’s lost in the polarizer itself, I’dsay that there’s still an advantage in brightness going for passive, but not as much as it may seem at first.

The most notable difference between active and passive, though, is there’s always light going to your eyes with passive. That seems to have an effect on perceived brightness, though whether this is psychosomatic or physical, I can’t say.

Conclusions

Being such an odd product, I feel I have to qualify this review slightly. The small silver screen used in this review created an extremely bright image. Brighter is always better, even to trained eyes. On a normal sized screen, with normal projector brightness, I bet the difference between active and passive would be less severe. That said, the lightweight glasses and added perceived brightness are definite and worth considering.

So overall, the Tru3D is an interesting, if niche, product. It’s a bit pricy in my eyes, but then again I’m not keeping a family of 5 in $100 3D glasses. If you watch a lot of 3D and are tired of replacing batteries or recharging, or you like to have big movie nights and don’t feel like buying $1,000 worth of 3D glasses, the Tru3D certainly looks a lot more appealing. Also, and it may seem trivial, but wearing passive glasses is way less annoying than active. Lastly, the extra brightness of the 3D image is very welcome. If this seems like something you’d be interested in, I can say that it works exactly as advertised (placement concerns aside).

The Tru3D Active-to-Passive 3D Polarizer is priced $1,499.99 at Tru3d.com. HDGuru.com awards the Polarizer a ♥♥♥.5 out of ♥♥♥♥♥ heart rating.

 

Geoff Morrison   @TechWriterGeoff
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14 Comments so far ↓

  • Robyn

    They seem to have gone out of bussness. all that is on the site is a blog about 3d glasses

  • Noelski

    This is scam. The guys leaving poitive feedback is one of them…
    …don’t pay even a 100 box on that piece of glass. They are selling it for more than 1000 dollar…they are a robber…

  • Trshstr

    Sorry but the idea of paying $1499 for $40 worth of tech (it just an LCD screen witch jitters the polarization between 0º and 45º) is insulating and a clear example of why 3D is failing. These companies are selling old technology at 37+ times markup prices. Its obscene. You could easily do a dual projector setup for less than this overpriced toy.

  • Geovani

    Hello, I am interested in buying the product Tru3D Passive Active-to-3D Polarizer, do you can contact me my email to check the price and delivery time please? regards.

  • Gregg Jarvis

    Has anyone thought about dual projectors and passive glasses, each eye will get full brightnees from each projector.
    There is no ghosting and exceptional extinction

  • Vidiot

    I don’t see how this can be a brightness improvement, only that you can use passive glasses (they make no claim on their website for greater brightness). The projector is still multiplexing the two eye views, so only one eye is being sent out at any one time. The difference is that instead of the shutter glasses blocking the other eye, this device does it by flipping the polarization. So at any time only one eye is getting all the light, and seeing black the other 50% of the time – just like with active glasses.

    And at $1500, it only becomes an economy move if you need a bunch of glasses.

  • Anon

    Ordered my Polarized Edition HD33 two weeks ago and it just arrived yesterday, I am amazed by this product! I was well prepared for its arrival, however the projector itself was literally plug and play with my direcTV for ESPN 3D, etc. Here’s my story – When I called them, I discovered that my projector would require an optoma 3D-XL in addition to the polarizer, which explains why they have a 1080p HDMI 1.4 version and a 720p HDMI 1.3 version. The later includes a 3D-XL, which was needed as an upgrade to my HD66. My HD66 would have worked with the 3D-XL, but I did not want to invest another $299 into my HD66. I discovered that the 3D-XL is NOT needed with the HD33! Long story short, the main requirement was that either my projector or my adapter have a 3D SYNC port for the polarizer to plug into. This is where a IR or RF emitter would normally connect to the projector or adapter. After quite a bit of thought, I decided to just order the polarized edition of the HD33 and upgrade to Full 1080p 3D. I am very happy with the picture quality of the HD33 compared to HD66. Additionally, I was able to use my existing ceiling mount and the HD33 was plug and play with my DirecTV receiver and Sony BluRay 3D Home Theater. I did have to replace my projection screen, which I did before the projector arrived. I changed sizes slightly to accommodate the difference in throw ratio between the HD66 and HD33 to prevent having to re-run my cables or move mounts.

    Here is what I had to do for installation: 1) replace existing projection screen with polarized retaining silver projection screen 2) Un-mount old HD66 projector and replace with HD33. I used my existing ceiling mount and was lucky that the throw distances were almost identical. 3) I had to adjust the height of my mount. The polarization seems to work best if there is no up or down angle on the projector, you will want your projector level. To do this, the HD33 is basically aligned with the top of your projector screen. 4) connect existing HDMI cables. 5) turn everything on. I did not have to replace my existing monster brand HDMI 1.3 cables for this projector, which was a pleasant surprise, although TRU3D recommended replacing cables.

  • Dean

    I purchased this paired with an HD33 and it works great. No ghosting, easy to setup, great gift to my family. The total package as $3300 vs the $15,000 LG wanted. I figure that works out for savings of like 85%. AWESOME product & price

  • jack

    this sounds like a cool product, my dual polarized projection works great for me but I wish this would have been available 3 months ago!

  • Anon

    I believe that the $1499 is just for the polarization modulator. If you do not have a 3D Sync port on your projector, then you will have to use a 3D-XL or other HDMI 1.4 adapter that has a 3-Pin 3D Sync Port. So if I want to use my HD66, I have to buy the polarization modulator for $1499 + a Optoma 3D-XL for $299 + a da-lite polarized retaining silver screen for $600? Seems like I might as well upgrade to a higher quality projector while I’m at it. Has anyone used this with their HD66?

  • Anon

    You will have to have a polarized retaining projection screen! I already have a HD66 and 3D-XL and this looks like a good upgrade but polarized projectors do not work with standard projection screens. I could not find any polarized retaining screens where I live, no-one even knew what I was talking about in the stores. I see TRU3D ships to France, but where can I find a polarized retaining screen in france?

  • D Havling

    This is an amazing product and I can’t wait to get one. I’ve been dealing with a dual projector system for 3 years and it sounds like finally there is a solution for the average man… Way to go TRU3D

  • Thomas Rhodes

    Great Review – You guys are absolutely correct about the shroud needed to block light reflected back from the polarized projector. We used the polarization modulator with a viewsonic Pro8450W. We called TRU3D after purchasing our unit about reflected light although it was simply an annoyance and we didn’t feel it impacted performance. I noticed that the same thing occurs in theaters if you look up at the projection booth. TRU3D sent us a black shroud that is made of a very heavy ?cardboard? or ?poster-board? material that slides on top of the polarizer and projector about a week after our call to them. This shroud is a must for any table top applications and also improves the look of ceiling mount installs by eliminating. TRU3D claimed they would be including it standard in future shipments, but you would have to verify with a newer customer. I hope that they do. Although we probably could have made one ourselves, it seems to be a very negligible cost to prevent the annoyance of reflected light.

  • JJ Bartello

    We purchased one of these HD33 based setups a few weeks ago. We discovered that the ghosting was a result of the Polarized Screen, Not the TRU3D modulator or projector. Make sure that you select a polarized retaining screen that is good quality and that you call TRU3D about mounting angles. Cheaper/smaller polarized retaining screens seem to ghost. We fixed the issue by upgrading our screen to a Stewart 5D screen and there was virtually NO GHOSTING AT ALL!

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