View Full Version : Review: X-Specs 3D Stereoscopic Glasses

4th February 2012, 12:19
X-Specs 3D Stereoscopic Glasses

Haitex Resources Inc.

The 3D technology, as you mostly of you already know, is not something new, but on the other hand big improvements have been done in the last few years. 3D technology has already entered out homble homes, almost every movie in the cinemas supplied in 3D form, not to mention the animation movies which they are entirely in 3D format. While some years ago 3D TVs were just a deceptive dream, now almost everyone can acquire one, especially if he is a big lover of the seventh art. The improvement leap, as we can say, was huge considering the enjoyment of a 3D movie or even a video game. From the old and monotonous system with the cyan and red lens, into the complete experience of film viewing.

Technology moves on, and unfortunately or fortunately we have to stay close with it (in some way). Or not? Retro lovers are here, live and kicking, especially when we are speaking about our one and only love; our Amiga. Between us, Amiga it's not just a retro-situation, it's just a way of life! Ok, enough of these 'juices'-stuff, because we will go to another level, but I would like to proceed and solve your query here. So, what's the relation between the Amiga and the 3D system?

We will do a travel in time, where the 3D and three-dimensional imaging words were not part of our daily vocabulary, or for someone never existed. Back to the 90s then, an infamous company to most of us, and to be pricise even to me, till I discovered this neat hardware here on AmiBay. This hardware is nothing more than a pair of 3D glasses especially for the Amiga computers. Its name? X-Specs 3D Stereoscopic Glasses.

So, what's these 3D glasses? The familiar three-dimensional image glasses to all of us. Since then we were able to see and experiment the magical world of 3D in our Amiga computer. So, let's take look of them.

As you can see from the image, the hardware itself, except from the helmet-type glasses, consists of a special adapter which in turn connects to the second joystick port in your Amiga computer (which in turn supplies you with two separate jacks, so you can easily connect two pairs of those glasses) and after that you can connect your 3D glasses to it. Those 3D glasses are not the cheap ones we now (passive viewing), but the active viewing ones. So what's that means? The passive viewing glasses were those cheaps and mostly paper-type glasses, which they simple didn't have the best viewing experience at all, as everything was cyan and red mixed together (due to the lens). So, whatever you have been watching, either it was a static picture or an animation film, you were stuck with these colors mostly, so in most occasions you really forgot if that you were watching was colorful or not! On the other hand, the active viewing glasses don't have this disadvantage.

So how this system really works? Those active viewing glasses supply two small LCD lens which they display alternately different images for each one eye, using a technique called alternate-frame sequencing, which achieves the desired effect of each eye seeing only the image intended for it, so a pseudo-3D image will be created in front of your Amiga monitor.

Also a disc is supplied inside the packet (apart from a booklet with instructions), which apart from the required libraries, it contains many goodies and a full 3D game to test. This game is called Space Spuds, as it never published as a stand-alone commercial product. Don't expect the best Amiga game in times, but it's a nice first opportunity to try your luck playing a 3D shoot 'em up game in your Amiga computer.

Let's grab the disc and insert it in the drive. After a while, we are ready to explore the disc's contents. There are many static images to see and some demos too, like the cube-demo, a cat (my favourite) and an entirely drawer with molecules. If someone was ever good in Chemistry... (I was not)

Our test didn't stop at the supplied disc. I tried to find more 3D stuff, but unfortunately nothing (although there are rumours that 2-3 games were published from third companies especially for 3D glasses like this one). I tried to test the Wandered 3D game from Elite. A simple 3D game, but as I was expected it didn't work. Why? Because this game uses the passive system of viewing, so it's impossible to watch it using our active-viewing glasses. There is this incompatibility. There was also a game from the far Kangaroo-land (call me Australia), named Kin (never found it though), but I believe that that same problem will occur.

That's plug 'n' play. Even the most noobie one in terms of Amiga computing, can try the 3D glasses within seconds. Where their technology seems to be old, their construction is really good and solid. So you had this 3D technology in your Amiga since the end of 80s, was a good answer for some 'multimedia'-style systems from the new century!

Althouth their construction is good, they are not so comfortable. Unfortunately the small lens will tire you after a while, as you strain your eyes to see through them. Sure lens had to be bigger for more viewing experience. Again, unfortunately, as these glasses were ahead of its time, the software especially for this one, is really beyond rarity, to impossible. Just one or two games were ever published for third companies, like the LanderGame and RaiderGame (if anyone knows were to find them, please...).

The only 3D peripheral for your Amiga, as I don't know if the i-Glasses were ever published, but the small lens really destroys this very good effort. Sure, it's not something that you will wear it all day, or even find it to acquire, but you will be happily 'forced' to use them in front of your peecee-friends, and saying: "My Amiga had 3D viewing, since you were trying to run games under Hercules using SimCGA!".

4th February 2012, 14:26
Nice write up!

4th February 2012, 19:47
nice one, ah 3D... is'nt new television all 3D?

5th February 2012, 23:00
-OK, I just can't read.. (I was distracted while reading and apparently missed a paragraph or 2. :-)
-You DO talk about Space Spuds.. Not sure how I missed that...
-Duh! :-)

I loved Space Spuds!!!
I had the X-Specs back in the day, and they came with a game called Space Spuds..

It was cheesey ("Buy Space Spuds!!!"), but kind of fun...

I remember there were a few (2?) other games out there, PD ones I think...
It's been a while.. Might be on Aminet still...
(That was the lander game and raider game.. Man, I just totally misread your review.. ;-) )

Also, there is an xspecs.library and programming information that came with..

I have to admit tho, my favorite part was the rotating 3D cube demo..
Every once in a while, I would fire up that demo, and place my hand under the rotating cube, to make it look like it was hovering over my hand... Get it too close and you mess up the illusion tho...

I know, sad but true... :-)

If I can figure it out, I'd love to build an adapter to use more standard 3D glasses (like I got with my PC and the homebrew Vectex 3D imager)...
As far as I know, it's just flipping left/right based on a pulse from the joystick port, but I believe from my reading that you have to send AC, not DC to the glasses to polarize a lens... All quite a bit beyond my lack of electronic ability, but would be fun..

Thanx for the reminder....


Making up for misreading your review:

6th February 2012, 18:07
Thanks desiv for the links, and it's really strange that always I search Aminet first, but for that I didn't search it at all. :Doh:

6th February 2012, 19:39
:thumbsup: mate.

Technical correction though - the left/right images are not alternately displayed on the glasses but on the actual Amiga monitor. There are shutters in front of each eye that alternately block/free vision through the respective eye synchronously to the display of the intended frames (so a simple interface through e.g. a joystick port is sufficient, as only a couple of sync signals to the start of every frame are required). EDIT: Just saw you wrote 'lens' and not 'screen', so you probably meant the same thing :)

The alternating left-right frames technique obviously implies that the effective frame rate is 25 Hz PAL (or 30 Hz NTSC if supported), so this technique is naturally prone to flickering and eye fatigue. To the best of my knowledge, it was first used in the arcade rooms racing game "Continental Circus" around 1989 [confirmation needed].

6th February 2012, 19:54
So this was the thing that plugged into the back of the CV-PPC?

6th February 2012, 20:10
So this was the thing that plugged into the back of the CV-PPC?

Not exactly, although it was planned for 3D. That was a future-addition, but didn't finally make it though. :(

6th February 2012, 22:58
So this was the thing that plugged into the back of the CV-PPC?

As mentioned, it didn't need anything like that.
You just plugged the adapter in your 2nd joystick port on your Amiga (any Amiga).
You plugged your glasses into it, and watched 3D on your 1084S monitor.
(Well I did..)

Actually, now that you mention it, some parts of it might not work well with flicker fixers.
At least one of the display options used Interlace, as I recall.

But I can't remember if everything used interlace.. I don't think so... I think that was just one of the options, and others were just page flipping...