Glasses-free 3D is in these days, but only a few devices has that kind of a screen. That’s why I was both skeptical and intrigued by GRilli3D, a screen protector that promises glasses-free 3D on the iPad. Read on to see if it delivered.
The concept behind the GRilli3D screen film is to ass a layer to the iPad screen that splits the image differently for each eye. To achieve this, there are hundreds of pixel sized lines on the GRilli3D which helps to do this. When you apply it you have to be very careful about getting those line parallel to the iPad’s pixel lines, so that the effect will work.
That is the GRilli3D in theory. In practice, it’s not so straight forward. First off, putting on the film is a nightmare. There aren’t any normal cutouts for the camera on the iPad 2 or even the home button, so you have nothing to use as a guide. Instead GRilli3D wants you to start in the middle using two arrows that they physically printed onto the screen protector (along with half a novel worth of copyright information) and line it up with a calibration image. The arrows don’t actually match the screen and it’s a pure nightmare to try to get on properly, despite their supposedly helpful instructions. It might be the fact that the edges of the screen film are slightly frayed as if cut with scissors that is the reason why they’re not simply using the iPad’s edges as a guide- who knows.
If you actually manage to get it on somewhat correctly though, you’ll get an urge to remove it rather quick. You are after all putting a screen film with hundreds of printed lines onto your iPad, which naturally both blocks and reflects the image. The end result is that it looks like someone sat on the screen and made liquid crystals start flowing where they shouldn’t. It’s somewhat the same issue as with privacy screen protectors, just a lot worse.
As for the actual 3D effect, yes it does work- at least if you’re not too close to the screen. I tried the test material available on the website (as there’s no way you’ll find tons of content that supports this) and it did indeed display in 3D, all without glasses. The 3D effect was rather poor though, and easily surpassed by anaglyph 3D. The image also changes when you move your head, and it’s generally more annoying to look at than cool.
It’s hard not to just write “it’s crap, don’t buy” in a review like this. I didn’t have high hopes for this to begin with, but at “only” $30 I had to give it a try. GRilli3D is a nice concept and it gives a “wow” effect once it’s on properly and displays content made for it, it’s just that in any other situation it actually makes your iPad a much worse device. Between degraded screen quality, installation difficulties and a near complete lack of content for it, the GRilli3D is one of the most complete accessory failures I’ve seen in a long time. It’s not that it doesn’t work, it’s just that when you can get an equal or better 3D effect with a pair of $1.79 anaglyph glasses that don’t have to stick to your iPad to work, this feels like it’s intended as a joke. Wearing glasses might be annoying, but going to these lengths to avoid it is basically like permanently super gluing your hand to the back of you iPad because using a Pad Strap is too much of a hassle.