So, how did it look? In a word, awesome! The D-73d’s dual projectors delivered enough brightness that the 3D image didn’t ever look dim or lack punch. I watched a ton of programming — literally 8 hours worth — including some DirecTV 3D shows where the limited resolution as compared with full 1080p 3D material was immediately apparent. Selections included a few IMAX features, several movie trailers, some recordings from The Masters golf tournament, and clips from the Monsters vs. Aliens and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Blu-ray 3D discs. The 3D effects were always convincing, and only once did I feel a slight bit of 3D-induced eyestrain. After a couple of moments that, too, passed, and I felt fine for the remainder of my viewing session. Content definitely played a role in my 3D viewing comfort. For example, a few scenes from the IMAX doc Space Station were filmed in such a way — objects out of focus and WAY up in the foreground — that immediately made my eyes feel like they were under assault.
I was most impressed with the D-73d when playing Call of Duty: Black Ops on a PlayStation3. While this game’s packaging didn’t indicate anywhere that it was in 3D, it definitely was, and my eyes were definitely opened to the potential of 3D gaming. When the playable character, a spec op warrior, brought his weapon up to bear, the added depth made it look like you were sighting down the barrel of a gun. I was concerned that all the rapid-moving action combined with 3D would be a fast trip down the road to nausea, but I played for about 45 minutes and never once felt uncomfortable.
As the final test, I wanted to watch an entire feature film to see how the experience held up over a couple of hours. And I could think of no better test than the granddaddy of all 3D movies: Avatar. Al Griffin was kind enough — though under threat of death upon non-return — to overnight me his copy of the Avatar Blu-ray 3D. I’d seen Avatar in 3D commercially twice, so it was the material that I was by far most familiar with. And the experience of watching Avatar on the Runco had all of the 3D depth and immersion that I remember from my two cinematic viewings. In fact, I think the image viewed on the ultra-bright Mocom screen had a lot more pop than my commercial experience. The seedpods from Mother Tree (or whatever; look, I’m not some kind of Pandora freak) definitely broke through the plane of the screen and appeared to float out in space. And the infinite-depth opening shot of the spacecraft’s interior had all the “Wow! That’s awesome!” that I remember from the big screen.
I think that the polarized glasses were a large factor in my long-term viewing comfort. Beyond just being passive, they are very lightweight and comfortable, reminding me quite a bit of my very first pair of Vuarnet sunglasses. I generally play around and fiddle with glasses in the theater, but never felt bothered by these. Plus, you get 6 pairs with your purchase, so you can entertain a decent-sized group right off the bat. (Additional glasses are sold in 6-pair lots for $199.)
Comparing the different screens, I would say that the Mocom did a better job of conveying the 3D image and minimizing ghosting. And its ultra-bright picture definitely helped offset light-output loss when the polarization filters were engaged. However, there was noticeable hotspotting when I sat way left or right of center, and the picture was much too bright for me when viewing 2D material. The Stewart 5D screen played a nice compromise, eliminating the off-axis issues and only occasionally revealing some ghosting in scenes with high contrast, such as the nighttime ones of Jake’s avatar swinging his flaming stick in the Pandoran jungle. It was also preferable for 2D viewing.
At the end of the day, Runco’s D-73d will put out an amazing 3D image, and a terrific 2D one as well. I went into this review skeptical about 3D, and though I’m not ready to fully drink the Kool-Aid, I can now concede that 3D definitely has a place when it’s done right. And I haven’t seen it done any more right than on the D-73d.
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