Companies have been promising to make glasses-free 3D a thing for years. I held an Android tablet with a 3D screen in my hands for the first time more than a decade ago. But that cheap tablet offered a finnicky 3D experience that only really worked if you held the tablet at exactly the right angle.
Now a company called Leia is hoping to make 3D tablets a thing with updated glasses-free 3D display technology. Leia is taking reservations for a premium tablet called the Lume Pad 2 that has a 12.4 inch high-res glasses-free 3D display with support for wide viewing angles, quad speakers, and support for capturing 3D images using the tablet’s cameras.
The Lume Pad 2 is expected to sell for $1099 when it goes on sale in April, 2023. But customers can save $100 by reserving one now (there’s no cost to put your name on the list, but you still probably shouldn’t do that if you don’t plan to spend $999 on a tablet in a few months).
ZTE subsidiary Nubia also plans to sell a tablet called the Nubia Pad 3D soon. That tablet appears to be a Lume Pad 2 in all but name, although it’s unclear how much the ZTE version will cost or when it will be available for purchase.
Leia calls the Lume Pad 2 “the worlds’ first 3D•AI tablet equipped with embedded technology to create fully immersive 3D calling, streaming, and gaming experiences.”
The tablet can display 3D imagery thanks to the company’s “Diffractive Lightfield Backlighting (DLB)” technology which lets you switch between 2D and stereoscopic 3D modes. And thanks to the dual 8MP front-facing cameras with eye-tracking support, the tablet can make adjustments on the fly to ensure that you can still see the 3D effects while tilting the tablet or viewing it from an off-center angle.
TomsGuide’s Richard Priday has spent some time with a Lume Pad 2 and reports that tablet largely seems to deliver on its promise of glasses-free 3D. What’s unclear is whether that actually makes the tablet worth its $1000-ish asking price.
There’s not all that much 3D content available at the moment. Looking at the screen for an extended period can cause headaches. And while the 3D lightfield display technology may be state of the art, some of the tablet’s other specs are rather underwhelming by 2023 standards.
The Lume Pad 2 and Nubia Pad 3D feature a 12.4 inch, 2560 x 1600 pixel display with a 120 Hz refresh rate. But the tablets have Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processors, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. Those would have been flagship-level specs a few years ago, but they’re a bit underwhelming for a product in this price range today.
Other features include dual 16MP rear cameras, quad speakers, a 9,070 mAh battery, 33W charging, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C port, microSD card reader, and pogo pins for optional accessories including docking stations.
It’s possible that the tablet could get more useful over time. For example, Nubia is promising a “real-time AI-based 2D to 3D content conversion” feature that doesn’t appear to be ready to go just yet. But when it is, it could let you turn any picture or video into 3D. And Leia has its own set of apps for capturing and creating 3D content. There are even 3D video chat apps – so maybe one day you’ll be able to use the tablet to make 3D calls to other users… if you can convince anyone else to spend $1000 on a tablet for its glasses-free 3D display.
For now, the Lume Pad 2 and Nubia Pad 3D seem like tablets very much aimed at early adopters.