Optoma 3D-XL
3D Projector Adapter Review

Bill Livolsi, May 2, 2011

Ever since the release of inexpensive 3D-ready DLP projectors, the question has been--what can you watch on them? For a long time, these projectors were incompatible with Blu-ray 3D movies, broadcast and satellite 3D, and 3D games from an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3.

That has now changed thanks to the Optoma 3D-XL. The 3D-XL takes a 3D signal from a game console, set-top box, or Blu-ray disc player and converts it into a format that a DLP-Link 3D projector can understand. This conversion lets you use inexpensive DLP-Link 3D-ready projectors with HDMI 1.4-compatible 3D film and video devices like Blu-ray players and game consoles, either using active shutter or passive polarized 3D glasses. With a street price slightly below $400 including glasses, the 3D-XL makes 3D projection truly affordable.

The Technology In Brief

There are many different way to transmit 3D film or video from one device to another, but they can be divided into two general categories. In one category are the HDMI 1.4 compatible formats, such as frame packing and side-by-side. These formats are written into the HDMI 1.4 specification, and any 3D device that is HDMI 1.4 compatible can understand them.

In the second category are transmission formats like frame-sequential and checkerboard, which are not in the HDMI 1.4 list of acceptable formats. While HDMI 1.4-compatible 3D devices may support these formats, they are not required to, and many do not. Meanwhile, DLP-Link 3D Ready projectors are not typically HDMI 1.4 compatible, and therefore cannot understand any of the HDMI 1.4-compatible formats. These projectors can only understand frame-sequential format, so in order to use them with 3D Blu-ray discs and broadcast content, you need a way to convert the signal into a format your projector can understand. That is what the 3D-XL does.

For a more complete explanation of the various 3D formats and interoperability issues arising from them, read our article "What Does 3D Ready Mean?"

What It Is / How It Works

To use the Optoma 3D-XL, one connects a Blu-ray 3D player, 3D set-top box, or 3D game console to one of the 3D-XL's HDMI inputs, then connects a 720p DLP-Link 3D Ready projector to the sole HDMI output. When fed an HDMI 1.4 1080p 3D signal, the 3D-XL converts it into a 720p, 120Hz frame-sequential signal that the projector can understand. In other words, it turns one kind of 3D signal into another.

What's the big deal? Well, projectors that can interpret the HDMI 1.4 3D standards, such as the Mitsubishi HC9000D and Sharp XV-Z17000, are expensive--much more expensive than projectors that can interpret 120Hz frame-sequential. As an example, the JVC DLA-RS40 has an MSRP of $4495, and is one of the least expensive full-1080p 3D projectors available. On the other hand, the Optoma HD66 has an MSRP of $699, and several other DLP-Link 3D Ready projectors share this price point. As such, the 3D-XL can help you put together a full 3D video system for under $1500, or $3000 less than the least expensive HDMI 1.4 3D projector available today. That's nothing to sneeze at.

So what does this magical device look like? The 3D-XL is a simple black box, less than a foot long on its longest side and a little over an inch thick. It has three HDMI ports on its rear panel (two inputs, one output), three buttons on the front panel (used to switch between inputs, change from frame-packing to side-by-side mode, and cycle the power), and a few small LED indicating the presence of power and signal. A small switch on the rear panel is only used when changing between single-projector and dual-projector configuration. There's a port for an infrared emitter in case you want to use IR-triggered glasses, such as NVIDIA's 3D Vision glasses. Rounding out the panel are a 9-pin D-sub RS232 port and a USB port used for firmware updates. Aside from a power plug, there's not much more to it.

Advantages

Blu-ray / broadcast / game console compatibility. More than a few people purchased DLP-Link 3D projectors in the hopes that they'd work with new Blu-ray 3D and broadcast 3D formats--the projectors came before the content, so this was not an unreasonable hope. This didn't happen, and owners of DLP 3D Ready projectors were stuck watching what they could put together via computer. The 3D-XL brings a whole new world of 3D content to owners of these projectors without forcing them to spend a lot of money or switch to using an HTPC with an internal Blu-ray drive.

Inexpensive and easy to use. A complete setup including a DLP-Link 3D Ready projector, an Optoma 3D-XL, and two pairs of glasses costs less than $1500. The 3D-XL is almost fool-proof with its clearly-labeled ports and one-button operation. In comparison, a 1080p 3D projector costs at least $4500, and the list price may or may not include the required IR emitter and glasses for 3D display. What's more, many of these full 1080p 3D projectors cannot display 120Hz frame-sequential content from a computer, so gamers are out of luck.

DLP-Link glasses. DLP-Link works by adding imperceptible white flashes to the video signal, which the glasses read via a small sensor and use to remain in synchronization. White pulses have some advantages over infrared, such as not requiring an external emitter and not interfering with the operation of a remote control, but they also raise black level significantly. DLP-Link glasses are available from several different vendors, and any glasses marked DLP-Link should work with the 3D-XL. The same is not true of active-shutter glasses for infrared sync, which can be highly brand-specific. Prices and quality can range. An older pair of DLP-Link glasses in our lab showed a marked green tint and a loss of contrast compared to Optoma's glasses. And whereas some 3D glasses can cost upwards of $150, Optoma's DLP-Link 3D glasses cost about $75 from most retailers. When you're trying to watch a movie with a family of four, affordable glasses are important.

Alternate application: passive polarized 3D. The 3D-XL doesn't just do active-shutter 3D. A small switch on the back of the box can change the 3D-XL's output from 720p 3D to 1080p 2D, selecting one channel of the 3D image and sending it along while ignoring the other. You might see where this is going. With two 3D-XLs, two projectors, two polarizing filters, a silver screen, and some cheap passive glasses, it's possible to set up a passive polarized 3D system at home. This has its advantages, among them the ability to use higher-end projectors built for home theater and the ability to accommodate very large audience sizes since passive glasses are dirt-cheap (less than $5 per pair in some places). It has its downsides, too: a silver screen is mandatory, projector alignment can be tricky, and (obviously) you need to own two projectors and two 3D-XLs to make it work, which can get expensive. The passive polarized route isn't for everyone, but the 3D-XL is a great device for those who choose that method.

HDMI switch. The 3D-XL has two HDMI inputs and a button to switch between them. Many DLP-Link 3D Ready projectors have only one HDMI port. So, in addition to 3D conversion, the 3D-XL also improves connectivity.

Limitations

Adjustability. Many DLP-Link 3D projectors have a special 3D mode or 3D image setting that is automatically enabled when 3D content is shown. Usually, this setting is not adjustable, nor is it possible to use a different setting when watching 3D. As a result, what you see is what you get--there's no ability to fine-tune the image when watching 3D. You can still make adjustments to the 2D picture, and many of these projectors offer very good 2D performance for the money, but the adjustments you make will not carry over to 3D.

Image quality. With the huge price difference between a 3D-XL setup and a dedicated 3D 1080p projector comes a significant difference in image quality as well. Aside from the obvious resolution difference of 1080p versus 720p, 1080p 3D projectors are typically built specifically for home theater operation, while DLP-Link 3D Ready projectors are often built for multi-purpose use. These DLP-Link projectors have lower contrast and less accurate color reproduction than 1080p 3D projectors do. They typically do not include features like long zoom lenses, horizontal and vertical lens shift, or powered adjustments. Whether these features are worth the difference in price depends on the type of content you like to watch, your viewing environment, and your individual tastes.

Conclusion

Optoma's 3D-XL is a simple, straightforward product that solves a common problem in 3D projection. The 3D-XL allows the best content available on Blu-ray and broadcast/satellite to be used on the most inexpensive 3D projectors available, a feat which was previously impossible. By down-converting and re-formatting the 3D signal, the 3D-XL can make 3D projection surprisingly affordable. While full-1080p 3D projectors offer a more precise, higher-resolution experience, the 3D-XL is a great choice for gamers and those looking for a budget-friendly 3D option.


Reader Comments(35 comments)

Posted Jul 12, 2013 4:03:00 AM

By VLAD

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HELLO! Tell me please, is compatible Optoma 3D-CL with projectors Optoma TX631-3D DLP Proyetstor. I WANT TO WATCH 3D MOVIES. thank you

Posted Apr 20, 2013 4:57:48 AM

By LOGESHWARAN MA

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how to update the optoma 3d-xl firmware? because i want to play Over-under vedio format.

kindly let me kknow sm one

Posted Feb 12, 2013 9:59:24 PM

By Zawawi

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I have BenQ W100 Home Entertainment DLP Video Projector, is this Optoma Technology 3D-XL Projector Adapter, compatible with may projector?

Posted Aug 31, 2012 6:36:22 PM

By NATHOU JIMMY

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hi from guadeloupe sorry Forgive for bad language.... In advance thanks i have a benq MS614 & 3DXL & PS3 3d not working, impossible to take 3d sync on the video projector...

Posted May 24, 2012 10:58:04 AM

By Harikrishnan

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I am having BenqQ MS 614 projector iwant to 3D convert which is the best one and D Glass also pleas reply

Posted May 15, 2012 6:35:00 AM

By Sebastian

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IR-triggered glasses, such as NVIDIA's 3D Vision glasses. when do thay fix so you can use the vesa interface (ir port bakside) on the 3d xl im not heting it to work with 3d vison 2 :(

anyone got info & update please Email:Biomodse@hotmail.com

Posted May 3, 2012 4:50:51 AM

By CHINTAN

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PLEASE CHECK THE RESOLUTION OF YOUR 3D BLUERAY PLAYER, AS THIS 3D-XL ADAPTER SUPPORTS ONLY 720P RESOLUTION. AND MAKE YOUR 3D BLUERAY PLAYER ONLY 3D NOT AUTO.

Posted May 3, 2012 4:48:12 AM

By CHINTAN

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ANY DLP LINK GLASSES WILL WORK WITH OPTOMA 3D-XL ADAPTER

Posted Apr 5, 2012 1:24:01 PM

By Jeanne

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No, it will not work with Optoma ML500. Check Optoma's website.

Posted Feb 6, 2012 10:54:02 AM

By Андрей

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Hi from Russia! Whether converter Optoma 3d xl c as projector Optoma Ml500 on input HDMI will work? Forgive for bad language.... In advance thanks

Posted Jan 6, 2012 10:32:32 AM

By zela zinthia

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I am using a VIP Display converter $300 US(there is also a Gamer unit- less expensive & limited - and a Theater unit - most expensive and versatile available to suit one's needs) between a panasonic 3d BD player and an HD66 120hz optoma projector with Optoma active shutter glasses which is considered a 'normal' setup. However VIP claims that their unit will work with just about any 60hz projector and any resolution. There may be some flicker with those setups but I have read that in a dark room it is not always noticeable.

Posted Jan 3, 2012 12:38:39 PM

By Cristian Sanchez Vasquez

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I have an Optoma HD71 projector, will this device work fine with it? Thanks!

Posted Jan 2, 2012 7:51:59 AM

By frank

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can anyone tell me if there's any other 3D glasses works with the 3D XL apart from the optoma ones. Thanks.

Posted Dec 31, 2011 4:48:55 AM

By alex hiskey

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hi there ; after spending a few pounds on trying to get a 3d pic on my projector i use the 3d xl it works fine with sky but when i try to play a 3d movie on my sony 3d blueray as soon as the movie starts my projector decids to show a blue screen ,the movie is playing but no pic ,can anyone advice me on what is wrong thanks alex

Posted Dec 19, 2011 6:50:38 AM

By Graham Foster

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Could you advise me as to whether the Optoma adaptor is able to work with a Benq DLP. PE7700 projector to make it show 3D?

Posted Dec 5, 2011 12:21:16 PM

By jay

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is this 3d optama converter box works with any project to make it passive. Does it work with Epson prorectors to is it compatible.

Posted Dec 3, 2011 7:59:15 AM

By Mal

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All very interesting - BUT - is there any chance of the 3D-XL (or two of them), working with 2 Panasonic PT-AE 3000 HD Projectors with the necessary polarising filters, Silver Screen etc: Active shutter 3D is prohibitively expensive for audiences of half a dozen or more.

Posted Nov 22, 2011 10:09:00 AM

By Lindey Cloud

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I have a Sanyo PLV Z2000 LCD projector (100Hz/80kHz). Would this work for me? What is the scan rate of this device? How much does it cost?

Posted Nov 13, 2011 10:51:20 PM

By Mansoor Kalia

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I have BenQ MS510(3D Ready Projector) is this Optoma Technology 3D-XL Projector Adapter, compatible with may projector? And if yes i shall see 3D?

Posted Nov 11, 2011 12:13:36 PM

By Joaquin Arcaute

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I have an Optoma HD20 projector, will this device work fine with it? Thanks!

Posted Nov 7, 2011 10:13:59 PM

By Eric Lam

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Will this Optoma 3D-XL work with Sony 1080P 3LCD projector with passive glass ? ASAP.Thank you.

Posted Nov 4, 2011 5:10:40 AM

By DV8

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I have same situation. Dis tou dind the answer?

Posted Oct 13, 2011 11:59:31 AM

By TRiXXO

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I have an hd65 with 3D update and 3D xl but I cant get it to work right. My ps3 is set to 720p but when I start a game my screen displays 2D in the top right! Then when I turn on 3D dlp-link it is like half 3D.(and it says 720p 60hz in bottom right. I mean it looks abit 3D but not full. My HDMI lead to projector is 25m ! I don't know if it is 1.3 or 1.4 . If it is 1.3 would I get a half 3D affect? I don't want to go out and buy a 1.4 hdmi if thats not the proble.

Heeeeeeeellllllp lads 

Posted Sep 12, 2011 12:54:08 PM

By Gio

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For the passive fanatics the ViewHD 2 looks like it will split the HDMI signal to the two 3D-XL boxes to the corresponding projectors.

Posted Aug 25, 2011 9:06:14 PM

By greg leonardo

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I have an existing Infocus IN72 DLP Home Theatre Projector with only 480p native resolution and upscalable to 1080p, is this Optoma Technology 3D-XL Projector Adapter, compatible with my projector? And if yes can I used my 3D bluray player in order for me to view 3D movies. tnx

Posted Aug 22, 2011 4:52:57 AM

By louis ebejer

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I have BenQ W100 Home Entertainment DLP Video Projector, is this Optoma Technology 3D-XL Projector Adapter, compatible with may projector? And if yes i shall see 3D?

Posted Aug 20, 2011 10:51:27 AM

By Floris

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I have a: Ps3 = 300 € emachines v700 = 520 €

The ps3 has hdmi 1.4 and accepts 3d

My dlp beamer accepts 3d to but has hdmi 1.3

So the optoma 3d xl would be great for me? How much would the glasses be? Greets, floris

Posted May 23, 2011 10:42:56 AM

By Pops

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I too agree with last post. I have a perfect 2d set up and just want an adapter to make mine work. It has a rare really long throw and 5000 hr lamp life. I don't want to give that up for 1500 hr every year swap out bulb projo. The economics don't work for me for what you get in return.

Posted May 16, 2011 1:53:07 PM

By Satviewer2000

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Unfortunately, like many other bleeding edge technologies, it will take time before the industry finally get things right. I cannot even remember how many "Media Boxes" I went through and how much I've spent on them, before finally finding the "right one". And it tooks YEARS before the "right one" finally came along. So you have 2 choices, either wait for the technology to mature, which could take many many years, or jump in with the understanding that you'll likely have to upgrade again. If you must have 3D, then jumping in is the only option ... but you will not find ANY perfect 3D option at the present time.

Posted May 13, 2011 3:21:36 PM

By Ben Crenshaw

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I'm somwhat confused about how to do the passive polarized 3D setup. I've done quit a bit of reading so I'm not new to that type of setup. I'm actually working on building my theater for a passive 3D setup. Btw the reason for the silver screen is that it seems to be the only material that will reflect the polarization properly.

Ok so here's my confusion. If you use two of these with two projectors how would you get the same source going to both the 3D-XL's? would you use an HDMI splitter? and are there splitters that support HDMI 1.4?

Posted May 7, 2011 2:01:18 AM

By Patrick

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I'd like to see how a Real 3D proyector (like the Mitsubishi) compares to an equivalent or cheaper solution that uses passive polarized glases: 2xOptoma 3D-XL with 2 proyectos and a silver screen (why the silver screen BTW??). While you're at it, a opinion about a very cheap passive 3D solution would be nice as well (2 <$1000 FullHD 2D proyectos with 2xOptoma 3D-XL) I'm not interested in active shutter glasses, but if I can get 3D using polarized glasses, no doubt I'll buy one soon.

Posted May 3, 2011 11:48:51 AM

By Jim Hity

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The 3d-xl will work with 3D ready DLP projectors. There is a port on the 3d-xl for an emitter, but I suspect that the vasy majority of users will use DLP Link glasses that require no emitter. This unit will work with most 3D ready DLP projectors from any company. My results with the 3d-xl and an Optoma HD66 are excellent with a 100" screen, using a Sony Blu-Ray player(470) and using Directv.

Posted May 3, 2011 12:17:29 AM

By jim peponas

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comparison with the 3dc-1000 of mitsubishi? will this product work with every projector of any manyfacturer?the 3dc-1000 only works with mitsubishi products...!!

Posted May 2, 2011 8:09:25 PM

By Bill

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I think this is a temporary solution to Real 3D. Acer is coming out with a new projector (Acer H5360BD) which has HDMI 1.4 support, so you can plug your 3D blu ray player or game console directly into the projector. This unit is currently available in Europe for about $900. It uses DLP Link Glasses. I'm waiting to see how this unit stacks up against projectors on the market.

Posted May 2, 2011 4:09:16 PM

By Arthur Neill

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What we need is a device which will allow me to use my $10,000.00 2D projection system to show 3D. I am tired of throwing money at technologies like 3D that cause PQ to decrease. Make my existing equipment show 3D. I will consider spending my hard earned dollars for that.

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