Monday, September 25, 2023

ASUS dives into glasses-free 3D with the ProArt StudioBook 16

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Shreya Christina
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ASUS is venturing into glasses-free 3D in 2023, starting with its new ProArt StudioBook laptop. It has a 16-inch, 3.2K OLED panel that flips into 3D at the touch of a button. This feature, which ASUS calls Spatial Vision, uses eye tracking and a lenticular lens to deliver two separate images to your eyes. For example, you can view 3D models and films with the same depth that you expect from an average 3D screen with glasses.

Now this isn’t exactly new – Acer has hyped its SpatialLabs technology for years, last seen in a gaming notebook. ASUS seems to be following a similar path by targeting professional users first. Aside from the ProArt StudioBook 16 3D OLED, Spatial Vision will also make its way into a slightly less premium VivoBook Pro mode, which will hopefully cost less. Pricing details are not yet available, but you can expect to pay a lot more than a typical 2D laptop.

Based on a short demo with ASUS, Spatial Vision looked impressive on the StudioBook 16, although it took a few tries to get it working properly. As it turns out, ASUS eye-tracking technology doesn’t easily cope with a face mask, which worries me about using this technology in a busy office. However, after removing my mask, I was able to get a closer look at several 3D models. As I moved my head back and forth, the eye-tracking sensors rotated the models, almost as if they were physically in the room with me. I haven’t been able to try out 3D gaming with the StudioBook, but it will be interesting to see how shooters work with Spatial Vision.

Devindra Hardawar/cafe-madrid

Personally, I’m excited about the possibilities of glasses-free 3D while watching movies. I could see 3D cinema-like depth while watching the trailer Avatar: The way of the water. It was a reminder that 3D can be more than a gimmick if done correctly. Unfortunately, Spatial Vision only supports one viewer at a time, but that’s true of any glasses-free 3D solution. It’s hard enough following one person’s eyes to maintain perspective – adding more people is exponentially more difficult.

In addition to its 3D capabilities, the ASUS ProArt StudioBook 16 3D OLED looks like a premium workhorse laptop. It is powered by Intel’s new 13th generation HX CPUs, as well as NVIDIA’s RTX 4000 graphics card. It can fit up to 64GB of DDR5 RAM and 8TB of PCIe 4.0 SSD storage, and luckily there are two user-replaceable slots for memory and storage. The ProArt’s OLED screen can also go up to 120 Hz, which along with the NVIDIA hardware makes it useful for late-night gaming.

While Spatial Vision looks cool, it’s still unclear if people want 3D without glasses. I’ve spoken to 3D artists who prefer to have a VR headset nearby to fully explore their models, they don’t see much value in getting a little depth on their screens. But I don’t blame ASUS, Acer and other companies for exploring the possibilities of this technology – when it works well, it looks absolutely magical.

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