Yesterday, CNET Australia had a quick hands-on session with the Sony Vaio L Series desktop, the company's first glasses-less 3D computer or display. Our conclusion? Decidedly lukewarm.
First things first, despite the Vaio moniker, this Vaio isn't a laptop. It's an all-in-one PC-in-a-display, in the vein of HP's Touchsmart and Apple's iMac ranges.
Like the Touchsmart, the Vaio L incorporates a capacitive touchscreen, allowing users to interact with it via either the traditional keyboard and mouse or via the screen.
Unlike the others, the L Series also includes a glasses-less 3D feature where, instead of having to don the usual set of rather chunky specs, the computer is equipped with a forward-facing webcam that tracks the head and eyes of the main user, adjusting the 3D display automatically. This means that unlike some other glasses-less 3D setups, such as the Nintendo 3DS, you don't need to have your head and body fixed in the one place the entire time.
It sounds great in theory, but unfortunately, in the slightly dark and crowded environs of an inner-city restaurant, the computer on more than one occasion stopped tracking the main user, in favour of someone else or no-one at all. It had an even tougher time picking up my eyes behind my own spectacles.
Just as bad, in 3D mode, there's quite an obvious gap between the screen's pixels, creating a rather cheap-looking grid effect. And, as to be expected from a glasses-less 3D implementation, the 3D effect itself is several levels more subtle than spectacle-based solutions.
On balance, if we do end up recommending the Vaio L Series after performing a full review, it, probably, won't be based on its 3D capabilities, but on its other strengths. What it does show, though, is that glasses-less 3D still has a long way to go before it comes close to matching 3D implementations using active or passive glasses, and by then, people may not care anymore.