While I don’t sing the body electric, I do search for the elusive 3D. And on my mobile device no less. Anyone who enjoys watching 3D movies or videos — whatever — knows that the main obstacle, besides finding the content to see, is having a device that can run the technology needed for third-dimensionality. That’s why I keep saying that if only Apple would add 3D to their iOS devices, the acceleration of 3D viewing would explode.
But as that’s yet the case, we have had to go without. But no more. iPhone users (I being one) can rejoice — you don’t have to buy a Nintendo 3DS (or XL) to see 3D. Nor do you have to perform backflips to make it work. Or worry about batteries or AC power. But you do have to get the 3D Director Viewer.
What’s that? Well if you google you can find out — might need to speak Japanese though since it comes from the land of the rising Sun and isn’t being sold commercially here as yet — but since Japanese folks like 3D AND iPhones, this company has your back. Or actually both the back and front of an iPhone 4 or 4S. What about an iPhone 3GS? It’ll work, sort of — the issue being that the 3GS isn’t as flat as the 4/4s is (and why this is an issue you’ll see shortly).
The 3D Director Viewer looks a bit like a more substantial View-master: which is to say that it’s horizontal box with a bit of an oval-ish bend to it — the periscope-like viewfinder (based on 1950‘s submarines) shape has you looking into the two eye sockets while holding the sides. No batteries to worry about either — all the “oomph” will come from the iPhone; supplying the lit screen, the 3D technology and the player mechanism. My only gripe is that I’ve the plain-white model (with black trim). Heck, I was hoping to see one of the more colorful models — doesn’t change how it works but I do like my shiny objects….
By the way, the one sheet instruction “manual” is in English, if a bit incomplete. You’ll also find warning labels on both sides that include epilepsy warnings along with noting that you shouldn’t leave the 3D Director Viewer out in the Sun. I guess that’s less to do with it being plastic and more with the aspheerical lenses. Lawyers have really taken over our lives, haven’t they?
But back to the 3D Director Viewer — holding the iPhone horizontally, you insert it into the slot at the top of the Viewer. Pushing it down all the way is simple since it’s a firm, not horribly tight grip. Once this is done, the iPhone is held by friction — look at the bottom to find a small oval hole that has a tab to disengage the iPhone so that it can be pulled back out. But we won’t be doing that right now.
When you hold the 3D Director Viewer normally, you’ll see that the largish horizontal slot in the bottom allows you to insert a thumb at each end. –with the iPhone inside, you are now able to access the touch-screen. Who says all those days of thumb-typing a Palm Treo couldn’t some day come in handy? Or a Blackberry, even?
Now since the iPhone supplies the illumination, there’s none of this “looking for a light source” to aim the 3D Director Viewer at. But you do need content.
Which you can get by heading over to YouTube to start. Search for Y3DT files — this is 3D in the side-by-side format, which is what the 3D Director Viewer requires. There’s a fair number of files to try out: a Disney trailer of Alice in Wonderland is a good start as it demonstrates a number of 3D “effects” in a short period of time (look at the trailer with just one eye opened to compare the 3D effect, if you like).
Now obviously the resolution of the 3D video, and its quality, will depend on the source. But for sure anything running on the iPhone looks so much better than just decent. And by having your eyes “locked” into the 3D, devoid of surface ambient light, the 3D Director Viewer’s aspherical lenses are able to focus all of the illumination from the screen to your eyes. Wearing glasses, even. And compared to “active” 3D technology, the bit of eye fatigue generated doesn’t seem to have caused me any headaches. But of course it’s always important to do thing in moderation — so taking breaks between viewing can only be sensible to do. And about that 3GS — it sort of fits and works, but due to a bit of a curved shape in comparison to the 4/4S, what you’re seeing is a bit off the mark. So stick with the newer iPhone models.
Now the most important thing of course is content to watch — you’ll have to search around as I did to find it. There’s also software out there that purports to convert 3D Blu-ray discs into digital file formats that can be viewed on other devices (i.e., an iPhone). Such software could conceivably be used to convert a 3D title into an MP4 file that the iPhone could then play.
Bottom line: To see 3D these days, you need a viewer. Until Apple decides to make glasses-free 3D (or “active” 3D) part of the iPhone experience, the $30 (aprox U.S.) 3D Director Viewer will be there for you. It’s a durable and efficient means for watching 3D when you want. Who could ask for more?
- Battery free
- Durable design
- Only works with iPhone 4/4S
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.