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Lightspeed's 3D DepthQ Polarization Modulator and Their 3D Projector System

Posted on January 20, 2011 by Art Feierman

Specs Preview

3D DepthQ Specs
Price 6000
Technology 3 Chip DLP
Native Resolution 1000x1000
Brightness (Manufacturer Claim) 10
Contrast -
Zoom Lens Ratio
Lens Shift No
Lamp Life

The Lightspeed system is markedly different from the other 3D projectors and equipment we have reviewed. Lightspeed offers more than a 3D projector, they also offer 3D development system, as we will touch on below. This review primarily focuses on the DepthQ Modulator, with links to a short review of the Lightspeed HDs3D-1 projector.

For these reasons, we did not do a usual review, instead wanting to focus on the whole 3D Polarization Modulator concept and what Lightspeed's DepthQ Modulator brings to the table. This review will mention the 3D projector (that they OEM from InFocus), but will primarily focus on the DepthQ Modulator. Click on this link if you are only interested in their HDs3D-1 projector.

Lightspeed DepthQ Modulator Specifications

DepthQ Modulator - Small: 2.75 x 2.51" aperture): $6000
DepthQ Modulator - Large: 7.12 x 5.94' aperture): $9000+ (depending on usage)
Controller: Included with both versions
Polarization: Linear or circular (specify when ordering)
Distance and angle relative to Projector Lens: Variable
Maximum cycling of polarization: 400hz
Type of Glasses Used: Passive (linear or circular polarization)

For those interested in the Lightspeed HDs3D-1projector: MSRP is $2995. Click for more info

Lightspeed DepthQ Modulator - Highlights

  • Provides brighter solution than active glasses/passive projector solutions
  • Supports a whole host of frame rates for 3D, going up well higher than traditional projector 120hz, IMAX 3D support, etc. The faster the frame rates, the smoother the 3D should be. IMAX for example, I believe runs at 144, compared to most 3D projectors and LCDTV's doing their thing at 120hz. The DepthQ supports up to 400hz!
  • Uses low cost passive glasses
  • Supports circular or linear polarization schemes (Modulators come with one or the other, not both)
  • Requires a 3D screen (most screen companies now offer 3D screens, more on the way)
  • Available in two sizes, the less expensive suitable for portable projectors, most home theater projectors, the larger one primarily for large venue projectors, for auditorium and hotel ballroom type work, or even to work in a command and control center under full lighting
  • Provided the cleanest 3D experience of the 5 3D projector systems to come pass through our testing room, so far. (Next best was also a system using passive glasses, the LG CF3D projector.)
Click Image to Enlarge
  • Separate note: Lightspeed also offers a passive projector 3D solution using a single chip DLP, but we primarily used that projector with the Modulator, and passive glasses
  • So far, passive glasses are much lighter, and therefore generally more comfortable, especially if wearing for a hours at a time
  • Passive glasses are available (3rd party) with the same lens in both eyes, for people who's eyes are not able to view 3D properly (so some can watch 2D while others, 3D...

The DepthQ Polarization Modulator - an Overview

Lightspeed's DepthQ polarization modulator is a stand alone device that can be placed in front of a variety of projectors that are capable of at least 120hz output. In our review, we used the modulator in conjunction with already 3D projectors - lower end, single chip projectors. Now, normally, such 3D projectors use active shutter glasses, and work with good conventional screens (some are better than others, though).

The other way of doing 3D with projectors, is to polarize the image, using a screen designed to work well with the two different polarized images (generally 3D labeled screens), and then view using inexpensive passive glasses.

The DepthQ allows a projector capable of working with the first type - active shutter glasses, to instead work with polarized screen and passive glasses. You end up spending for the screen, but save a bundle on the glasses, especially if you need a whole lot of them, say, for a classroom. Projectors that are not necessariily 3D may also work with the Polarization Modulator, as the Modulator's controller apparently handle the 3D processing.

Another advantage, is that passive glasses 3D systems (which, confusingly, work with active 3D projectors), are brighter. According to my conversation with the Lightspeed folks, active glasses systems typically lose over 80% of the light. That is, the average amount of light hitting your eyeballs. By comparison, passive solutions usually "only" lose about 2/3 of the light. That makes passive glasses systems potentially almost twice as bright, if you are starting with two projectors with similar brightness, one active, one passive 3D.

In other words, one rationale for a DepthQ Modulator is cost, another is brightness. In fairness though, the DepthQ Modulator is expensive. It's cost is roughly in the same ballpark, today, as buying a couple to three dozen active shutter glasses, and you will need a 3D screen, but, for larger audiences (25+) the Lightspeed DepthQ Modulator is likely to offer you an overall less expensive solution than going with passive single chip DLP projectors, and a whole lot of active shutter glasses. Other avantages, include the potential extra expense that passive projectors/active glasses require in larger rooms, to get the syncing signal to all the glasses in the room. The typical system so far, tends to run out of signal strength at about 30-35 feet, based on my experiences with active shutter glasses, at CEDIA. Now some classrooms will be deeper than that, as well as training rooms, multi-purpose rooms, small auditoriums, hotel ballrooms, basically just about any type of room suitable for presentations, that's bigger than a typical sized conference room.

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