Nvidia has announced its latest attempt to win people over to shutter-glasses technology via its 3D Vision system: a set of wired glasses, designed as a budget alternative to its mainstream 3D Vision pack.
Officially announced today, prototypes of the glasses were demonstrated to thinq_ under a veil of secrecy at the CeBIT trade show earlier this year - but with Nvidia seeing the new wired glasses as its best chance of converting price-sensitive consumers over to the benefits of 3D Vision, it's been playing its cards close to its chest.
"It's all the same quality, all the same features, as our current wireless glasses," Nvidia's Andrew Fear explained during a press briefing, "but now for $99. We're trying to bring the cost down of the solution, so the customers - if they want the same set of features, but $149 may be a little too much for them, they can get this for $99 now."
UK pricing, sadly, wasn't part of Fear's briefing.
Hitting that all-important sub-$100 is vitally important for the future success of 3D Vision: while $149 seems like a considered purchase, for many - and especially those who have already splashed out on a multi-hundred-dollar Nvidia graphics card which supports the 3D Vision technology - a sub-$100 price point is an impulse purchase.
While the dropping of the battery packs and wireless communications hardware has helped drop the price, Nvidia has also given the glasses a bit of design polish. "You can see from the glasses, they have a slightly updated fit and style - the hinges on the temples have been designed to be a little bit more flexible, a little bit more comfortable, a little bit lighter as well, a little bit better ergonomic fit," Fear claimed - and having tried the glasses out at CeBIT, we'd agree.
While the idea of being tethered to your PC might not appeal to most, there's a very specific market Nvidia is targeting: business users. "The target market for this product we're going after is people who want a little bit lower price point, but also for LAN parties and iCafe gaming centres," Fear explained, "where people want the same experience, but they want some of the more added benefits that wired glasses can give you."
Those benefits, Fear explained, include 100 per cent uptime with no batteries to run down, and a clever notch in the USB connector itself that allows the glasses to be tethered to a secure service via a Kensington lock to prevent theft.
At first glance, a wired set of glasses seems a retrograde step for the company - but its focus on the iCafe sector is a clever move: if gamers get a chance to try the technology for themselves, they're far more likely to decide to splash out on upgrading their home rig to 3D Vision.
That bargain-basement price point does hide one extra cost, however: in order to make use of Nvidia's 3D Vision glasses, whether wired or wireless, you'll need a certified monitor which supports a 120Hz refresh rate - and, at the moment, those fetch a significant premium over traditional 2D displays.
Speaking to Fear, it's abundantly clear that 3D Vision is Nvidia's trump card, and the unique selling point the company will be focusing on in its fight against rival graphics manufacturer AMD - with AMD countering with a 3D technology of its own, along with a clever multi-monitor technology called Eyefinity.
With 3D Vision support now added to YouTube, and the price of the equipment ever-decreasing, Nvidia could find itself with the edge it needs to maintain its lead in the discrete graphics market - but only time will tell if consumers are willing to put up with wearing dorky glasses in order to experience the immersion that 3D gameplay can offer.