Another new toy…

I find that spending money tends to make me spend even more money, and this story is no exception.

I have been having fun with my Bloggie 3D camera, but it highlighted something – that I lack a computer capable of doing any kind of useful video editing.

In the (distant) past, I used a desktop I had built for gaming and music, but that has long been superceded by modern requirements. It has actually been sitting under a variety of desks and shelf units for the last 3 years, and I know that it isn’t capable of anything by today’s standards.

Because I work from home, I now tend to use my work computer for most day-to-day stuff. This isn’t as naughty as it sounds, as for some years, my personal requirements have been mostly just for a browser and email (both of which I need for work, anyway). Any gaming I did was now on the Wii, and my Pokerstars account runs from either my smart phone or my Asus Eee.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I thought I would look for a high-end laptop, with a decent built in video card. That way, I could use it downstairs, in front of the TV, as well as in my office. I was looking at a mixture of AV-spec machines, and gaming machines, both of which would do what I wanted.

Then I saw the Toshiba Qosmio F750-12P.

This has an Intel i7 processer, a GeoForce graphics card, and a glasses-free 3D LCD screen. That’s right, no glasses, passive or active.

Now I don’t go into these things lightly. Aside from anything else, this machine sells for around a grand (although I managed to knock a couple of hundred off that). So my new computer actually cost about 8 times more than the camera that inspired me to buy it.

I read a lot of reviews, some of which were disparaging about the effectiveness of the screen. On the other hand, some reviews raved over the screen. So I assumed it was simply a case of what I already had experienced – some people “get” 3D, and others simply don’t like it, be it for physical/medical reasons or simple preference. The main criticism I saw was that the screen works by tracking where your eyes are, and didn’t keep up very well when you moved your head about. It seemed that some reviewers just wanted to prove it didn’t work – “Look I am jerking from side to side so fast I am giving myself a headache, and it isn’t keeping up with me!”

Anyway, I figured it this way. If, when editing videos, it allowed me to quickly export to side-by-side MP4, and view that briefly on screen in 3D mode, then that was all I needed. For longer watching of 3D, I could always use the inbuilt HDMI to plug it into my 3D TV.

So how did it work out? It is fabulous. While I can see what the reviewers mean, for me it is really a non-problem. The 3D screen is brilliant, and I am not bothered at all by the occassional artifacts. Viewed through my TV, it is perfect. The software supplied with Bloggie runs perfectly on this machine, and at a decent speed, and I can edit 3D video, view it, and upload it to YouTube, all in one suite. At some time, I intend to buy a more sophisticated software package that will allow me to mix digital audio from my hard disk recorder with the 3D video input, but the Bloggie software is fine for now.

I also think I can see a reason for some of those bad reviews. To track you for the 3D, the Qosmio cleverly uses its webcam. In low light situations, such as you might have settling down to watch a movie, the webcam can’t track you accurately enough, and the 3D suffers as a result. However, in normal indoor lighting, it works fine.

It’s even gotten me into trying some games again – it has been years since I played any PC games. Here it is a mixed bag. Many games look brilliant, but a couple of games rely on dialog panels which are a blur in 3D, due to the size of font used. Fortunately Steam lets me try this out for free.

And so we come full circle. My Bloggie 3D got me to order my Qosmio; and now my Qosmio has inspired me to order a Microsoft Xbox 360 for Windows controller. After all, I don’t want to wear out that trackpad!

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