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Comparing the Nintendo 3DS to Sony’s 3D Efforts

Before anyone decides to remind me this is (look, it takes you back to the home page!) the reason I’m posting this, in the main page no less, is because of how we can compare Nintendo’s effort  to Sony’s 3D push for home entertainment thanks to 3D Blu-ray movies as well as the firmware released for the 3D enabled games available at the moment and in the near future for the PS3.

Now with that out of the way,  let’s consider what the 3DS has to offer at launch and how Sony has decided to price and market their 3D interest in new technology.

The 3DS will launch in Japan on February 26, 2011 at a retail price of 25,000 Yen. The release falls in place with what Nintendo had promised it’s shareholders (a release before the end of the fiscal year which concludes on March 31) but at first the price might seem a bit high (at the exchange rate, as of this writing, it is the equivalent of  $298.95). To put into perspective, 25,000 Yen was the price point for the Wii when it was set to launch in Japan but when the Wii released in the US the price got adjusted to $249.99 which could mean that the 3DS might be priced accordingly when it makes it’s retail showing.  No info was given for Europe and the Americas other than the fact we should wait for said data to come at a later date.

IGN said last week that it had acquired from a reliable source the final hardware specs for the 3DS. Nowadays IGN has fallen from grace with the gaming community but the specs do seem to be close to what developers have been commenting on:

  • Two 266MHz ARM11 CPUs
  • A 133MHz GPU
  • 4MBs of dedicated VRAM
  • 64MBs of RAM
  • 1.5GBs of flash storage

Several blogs and forums have already teared down these specs to pieces saying that they’re not that great and that Apple’s iPhone 4 has better specs than this but what we also need to remember is that the iPhone and other new multitask phones take a huge performance hit thanks to the OS that need to be running at all time so you can still get a call when playing a game, watching a movie, listening to music or viewing pictures. The 3DS is a gaming handheld first and a movie, music and picture player second and thus these specs are more than favorable for the new hardware. If you doubt that it is a graphical powerhouse the following might make you a believer:

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries for 3DS with Worldwide Online Multiplayer and Co-Op

Here’s the trailer for Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition so you can get an idea of what it can do.

For 25,000 Yen those that purchase a 3DS will get the handheld, an AC adapter, a charger stand, a telescopic Nintendo 3DS stylus-pen, a 2GB SD card and six augmented reality cards (they work in a similar fashion as the ones you use to play Eye of Judgment).

The next trailer shows some of the menus and features of the 3DS:

Now that you’ve seen that, let’s go into Sony’s court. If you want 3D games and 3D movies you first need a 3D enabled TV. There are several brands you can buy but for this article let’s focus on the Sony branded ones and several sizes and configurations are available. I think this specific bundle is the best entry point for the technology. You get a 40″ LED 3D TV, two pairs of glasses and a special 3D TV Transmitter so you can “synchronise the frame rate of the TV with the shutter speed of the glasses”. Price is set at $1,698, already almost 6 times the price of the 3DS which doesn’t use glasses for 3D. A family usually has at least one kid in the house but the average one has two so you might need an extra pair of glasses for your new TV. You can go with a single pair at the special Amazon price of $99 per glasses or spring for the deluxe set that includes two pairs of glasses and the Alice in Wonderland 3D Blu-ray Movie for the Amazon price of $268.99 versus the original $399.99 retail price. Again, other configurations are available but comparing all of them would take forever.

Some PS3 games are getting updates so they display in 3D and Sony is even giving away 3D PSN games when you buy select 3D TVs so the support for us gamers is slowly showing. I look forward to what Team Ico can do with 3D in the ICO/SotC Collection as well as what is being worked on for the Sly Cooper Collection but so far 3D hasn’t matured enough to make the investment a solid one. The current selection of truly 3D movies geared at the new TV sets is reduced to Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, Monster House, Alice in Wonderland, Open Season and Monster vs Aliens  to name a few (the list is sure to grow soon as Avatar is a given for the format).

Sony’s bet for 3D is a high-entry one at the moment and it still  needs to convince several consumers to jump from DVD to Blu-ray, let alone from DVD to a new 3D TV, a 3D enabled Blu-ray player (a PS3 will do just fine but most don’t know it). It will be interesting to see how the public responds to the “no-glasses” 3DS release worldwide and how Sony is tinkering around with their own 3D technology to make it more user friendly and available at a mass-appeal price.

So, are you interested in 3D? Will you buy a 3D TV? What do you think about the 3DS?