Published on February 4, 2011 11:20 AM

Nintendo 3DS: 2D vs 3D

When you're watching a 3D TV that uses active technology, switching from two to three dimensions can lead to a loss of detail and brightness. Is the same true of the display on the new Nintendo 3DS?

At first sight, the answer is a definite 'no': there's no stark difference in quality when you change from one mode to the other.  And naturally enough, most viewers prefer 3D because of the extra depth it offers.

We are going to be honest: Nintendo is very strict about taking photos up close to the screen on the 3DS because it's worried that readers will see them and not realise that the seemingly poor quality is caused by the fact that 3D images are always divided in two.  I really don't think that's a problem for our readership though: you've seen extracts from 3D videos on the site plenty of times before.

The other potential problem is that a newcomer only looks at an extract that's been enlarged so much that the individual pixels are visible and concludes that the quality is dreadful.  But as I said, we think you know better than that.

With those two disclaimers out of the way, and a pre-emptive apology to Nintendo, we'll start with a photo at more or less real size.  We'll then go on to enlarge it, which obviously exaggerates the problems along the way with pixels that are invisible to the naked eye clearly standing out.

But if you take a freeze frame and enlarge it, the differences are noticeable.  Here's a frame from Street Fighter 3D, in three dimensions to start with:

And again in two dimensions:

The individual pixels are visible in 3D but seem to disappear in 3D.  As well as ahving a little more detail, we think the 2D frame is brighter too.

We tried the same test with another scene, and the results seem to confirm our original findings:

In two dimensions, there are clearly more details visible in the character's face, body and clothes:

Don't take these photo at face value though: none of these problems are visible to the naked eye.  3D looks as good as 2D when you're using the device, despite the pixels that are more visible in these enlarged photos.

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