PC and TV makers hope 3D steals the show at E3

Hardware companies always want to sell you on the next big thing. At E3, there’s a growing chorus among companies big and small that viewing games with 3D glasses is the future.

The latest to tout 3D is Origin, a gamer PC company that is launching its Eon15-3D gamer’s laptop today with Nvidia’s 3D Vision technology and latest mobile graphics chip built into it. It’s one of several gamer laptops coming with built-in 3D, feeding into the same craze that is prompting TV makers to launch 3D TV sets. The company is unveiling the laptop at the G4 TV booth at the E3 show in the Los Angeles convention center today.

I’m highly skeptical, as the hardware companies are really searching for a reason to keep hardware prices from falling. But you have to credit them for trying. Miami-based Origin was founded last year by veterans of Dell’s Alienware gamer PC division. Its goal is to sell maybe 100 PCs a month with custom paint jobs that cater to the high-end gamer who is willing to pay anything for the best machine. There are about 400 3D viewable games ready to play on the machine.

It’s easy to belittle such gamer PCs as inconsequential. But the designers of such PCs have been prescient, so much so that Hewlett-Packard bought Voodoo PC and Dell bought Alienware. After those acquisitions, the big companies lost their interest in the heat-seeking market, and that’s where Origin saw its opening, said Kevin Wasielewski, chief executive of Origin, in an interview.

Origin is offering models that are entirely customizable, from the processor to the hard drive to the graphics chip and paint job. The Eon15-3D features Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 285M graphics chip, Blu-ray burners and up to 750 gigabytes of hard drive space. The 15.6 inch widescreen supports 3D resolutions up to 1366 x 768. It comes with Nvidia’s active shutter 3D glasses and a 120-hertz screen. The price starts at $1,949.

Wasielewski says he would be happy to sell 100 of these a month. Origin launched its first desktop and laptop computers in November. Wasielewski said it has been hard to keep up with demand, even though the average desktop price is $5,700 and the average laptop is selling for $4,000. Rivals include Acer and Asus in the 3D PC market. But there are surely more to come.

Sony, Samsung and Panasonic have all launched 3D TVs, and Sony has made the PlayStation 3 compatible with 3D glasses.

Origin is self-funded and has 16 employees.

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