Toshiba unveils glasses-free 3D on a laptop

Toshiba is announcing today that it has created a prototype for a glasses-free 3D laptop. So far, nobody else seems to have this technology so Toshiba may have an edge on rivals if it brings the machine to market.

The Japanese tech company is making the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Toshiba has designed the laptop with the same kind of screen it has used in 3D TVs on sale in Japan. With these models, you don’t need to wear special glasses to see images in 3D. They will allow users to view 3D applications such as games and movies.

Toshiba launched a 12-inch 3D TV that can display stereoscopic 3D images without the need for 3D glasses in Japan in December. The company plans to introduce a 40-inch version in the spring.

To see the 3D effect on the TVs, users have to sit within a 40-degree angle of the front of the TV. Otherwise, they won’t be able to see the images properly. The same is likely true for the 3D laptop.

I saw a demo of the screen and it worked fine, although it’s clear the image quality is still undergoing refinement. The prototype had a 15-inch screen which operates at 120 hertz, meaning it flashes images on the screen 120 times a second. It does so to create the slightly offset images of a scene necessary to experience the images in three dimensions. The product will debut sometime in 2011.

In another first for Toshiba, the company is showing off its concept design for an all-in-one PC. Right now, Toshiba focuses only on selling laptops, not desktop computers. But the all-in-one is becoming much more popular and Toshiba believes it can offer a good product in that segment, said Phil Osako, product marketing manager at Toshiba’s U.S. division.

Such experimentation is one byproduct of the company’s decision to merge its U.S. TV and PC businesses into one division.

“We think that the merger of consumer electronics and laptops is a fantastic one that will use technology from both sides,” Osako said.

The 21.5-inch all-in-one PC has a TV tuner, built-in speaker bar at the bottom of the unit, and almost looks more like a consumer electronics device in its design than a PC. For now, Toshiba is not using a touchscreen in the device, which may be a disadvantage compared to Hewlett-Packard’s TouchSmart all-in-one PCs. The all-in-one is expected to be introduced in the second half of 2011.

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