Conclusion - What do we think?
HP introduced the ENVY 17 3D in October 2010, in time for the holidays. HP intended the ENVY 3D to be the first HD, 1080p 3D Blu-Ray movie media laptop that could play 3D movies. And they wanted the consumer to have a great out-of-the-box experience - plug in a BD DVD and see a 3D movie instantly, as easily as if the user had plugged in a standard def DVD. However, ENVY 17 came to the market after 3D Vision powered notebooks from Acer, Asus and Dell.
Because S3D games have become so popular HP also wanted to have that capability, although it was not the main point of the offering. So they worked with DDD, so that DDD's TriDef software could be downloaded for free from DDD's website, but left it to the consumer to get it working. A dedicated and sophisticated consumer probably could. In March this year HP introduced a new version of the ENVY 17 3D and in it S3D game support is provided through the pre-installed TriDef 3D Ignition game player. The other TriDef apps are not installed so there should be less confusion over who does what. We hope to be taking a look at that new machine soon.
nVidia's proprietary system is easier to use for games, and supports 3DTV – the HP/DDD/AMD solution doesn't support 3DTV.
HP will have to deal with service calls or direct the consumer to DDD's web site. DDD has a large following and many of its users have tweaked their systems to optimize the S3D performance. Then they publish that information on the DDD TriDef forum page. As noted above, the DDD system works, and works well, once you've figured out how it's organized. DDD is a small (26 people, half in Perth, Australia) company based in Los Angeles and can't offer the kind of support HP, AMD, or Nvidia can, so that will be the weak link in the equation. But HP and AMD are dedicated to an open system and so they will have to live with the side effects of frustrated consumers. Let's hope they all become advocates as most of the postings on DDD forum indicates those users are.
I criticized DDD's main menu to the folks at DDD. They said thanks for your feedback and comments, and told me they have already substantially re-designed the TriDef user interface to improve the general usability and address some of the issues I encountered. They said a new 3D user interface (TriDef 3D Portal) has already been deployed with most of their OEM customers. Due to timing issues HP decided to use the standard 2010 retail release for the first version of their HP ENVY notebooks, so DDD did not have an opportunity to include this new UI or customize it for HP. However, they are planning to roll out the new 3D UI for the standard retail release shortly. Hopefully it will lead to a better experience.
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