The Vision 3D series from ASRock aims to provide a premium stereoscopic 3D multimedia experience in a small form factor. This HTPC line benefits from full 3D support from Nvidia, making it compatible with both Nvidia GeForce 3D Vision and their 3DTV Play software drivers. This is best suited for customers who recently purchased 3D HDTVs and are looking for nearly instant compatibility with Blu-Ray 3D, stereoscopic 3D gaming, and general 3D multimedia support for photos and video. Desktop PC users will have the same benefits when pairing the Vision 3D with an Nvidia compatible 120Hz 3D monitor. Audio does not take a backseat, though, as this unit supports THX TruStudio Pro 7.1 channel surround sound. However, when all is said and done, does this HTPC really have the chops to be the center of your home theater system? Today we find out!
The first thing I can say about this Vision 3D HTPC is that the build quality is excellent. The exterior of the unit is solid anodized aluminum, and it's built like a tank. Even though the top is made of plastic, it has a nice glossy finish which only adds to the polished aesthetic. The slot-loading Blu-Ray drive maintains the clean appearance. If looks are important to you, this will fit nicely in a stylish home theater setup.
There are a few different models available in the ASRock Vision 3D series, and the unit we're reviewing is the 135B. Among other things, it sports an Intel Core i3-370M processor, an Nvidia GeForce GT 425M graphics card, a Blu-Ray combo drive, 7.1 channel audio, USB 3.0, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and HDMI 1.4a 3D compatibility. Detailed specs are listed below:
PowerDVD 10 has a feature that will up-convert standard 2D DVDs or video files into stereoscopic 3D, but I found the results to be lackluster. In contrast, viewing true stereoscopic 3D content results is a very satisfactory experience. Of course, the included 3D Vision Video Player is supported, as is Stereoscopic 3D Player (purchased separately).
A nice touch is the media remote that is included in the box. This remote control has all the buttons you will need for playing a Blu-Ray or other video content. It's fully supported by PowerDVD 10 which makes controlling content a snap, and really provides the kind of easy experience you'd expect from a home theater component - especially when watching videos.
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