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Nintendo's magical new 3D toy
Jan 29th 2011, 14:24 by T.S. | LONDON

BABBAGE had a chance to play with the new Nintendo 3DS games console yesterday, a hand-held device with a 3D display that doesnot require the user to wear glasses. Yes, really. The 3DS can perform this "autostereoscopic" miracle because it can be pretty sure where the screen is relative to your head: it will be about 30centimetres in front of your face, and your nose will be aligned with the screen's centre. Using a filter called a parallax barrier, the display can then direct two slightly different images, indifferent directions, towards your left and right eyes to create the 3D effect. There's quite a lot of wiggle room: you have to move the device quite far away, or move quite far off the central axis, beforethe 3D effect is lost.
It is hard to describe how impressive this is; it just works. You turn on the device and the menus and logos pop out of the screen in bright, vivid 3D. Apple likes to talk aboutthe iPad as a magical product, and there are very few other companies capable of devising gadgets that feel as though they have appeared from the future; but Nintendo has pulled it off with the 3DS.A slider on the side of the screen lets you control the depth of the 3D effect, and even turn it off altogether, which reduces the image to high-resolution 2D. Setting the 3D effect to about half-wayseemed to be easiest on the eye. Nintendo advises 3DS users to take a ten-minute break every 30 minutes, which is probably not a bad idea, but its warning is likely to be widely ignored.
There wereonly a couple of games to try out, notably "Super Street Fighter IV 3D", a beat-'em-up title, and "Face Raiders", a bizarre augmented-reality game that captures faces using the 3DS's built-in cameraand then turns them into flying baddies you have to shoot while waving the console around. The 3D effect makes it much easier to distinguish foreground action from background scenery, and should make...
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