3D gaming is… well, if not dead, then at best being kept in an iron lung by a teensy niche of enthusiasts. However, Acer will be making another attempt to take it semi-mainstream when it releases the Predator Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition gaming laptop in September 2022. Its 15.6 screen, powered by an RTX 3080 and Intel Core i9-12900H CPU, promises both standard 2D at 4K and glasses-free stereoscopic 3D-o-vision. A bit like the Nintendo 3DS, only much more powerful, higher-res, and costing $3400 / €3299.
The Predator Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition was announced during Acer’s virtual Next@Acer event, alongside a handful of other new gaming gear from the Predator and Nitro ranges. It’s by far the most ambitious of the lot, incorporating the stereoscopic 3D tech that Acer first introduced on their creative-focused ConceptD 7 SpatialLabs Edition notebook last year.
The SpatialLabs system works by presenting two images on the screen and using eye-tracking sensors (built into the screen’s top bezel) to keep one image refracted towards your left eye and one towards your right. Your brain then interprets the combined images as a single 3D image, which I think is how eyes just work when looking at real objects? Maybe. I’m not a biologist.
For this 3D-fied Predator Helios 300, Acer are also crafting SpatialLabs TrueGame software, which includes custom 3D profiles for “over 50 popular games” and more to come in the future. Only one of these was confirmed during the show, Forza Horizon 5, though it will be perfectly possible to play others games in standard 2D instead. This allows them to run at a higher 4K resolution too – in 3D, each image is rendered at 1920x1080, for an overall 1920x2160 resolution.
It's been a long old time since I’ve played a PC game in 3D, VR headsets notwithstanding, so I’ll hold any hot takes on whether it’s a worthwhile technology to pursue in 2022. Even true stereoscopic believers will face that hefty US/EU pricing, though. I asked an Acer rep for Brit-specific details but received a fact sheet with UK pricing as “N/A”, rather than the “TBC” given for other Next@Acer product reveals, so the Predator Helios 300 SpatialLabs Edition might not even make it over here.
What will are the two new versions of the Acer Predator Triton 300 SE laptop. That stands for Special Edition, not SpatialLabs Edition, so there’s no 3D fanciness here – but the refreshed 14in model does get a choice of 90Hz, 2880x1880 OLED or 165Hz, 2560x1600 IPS displays to replace the old 1080p screen. The new 16in model, meanwhile, goes even faster with a 240Hz, 2560x1600 IPS display.
Both Predator Triton 300 SE varieties provide a choice of 12th Gen Intel Core CPUs, and either the RTX 3050 Ti or RTX 3060 for graphics duties; the 16in model can also have a RTX 3070 Ti instead. Base models will start from £1750 / $1750 / €1499 for the 16in model, which launches in Europe this July and North America in August. The 14in model should arrive a little earlier, releasing in Europe in June and North America in July, with prices starting from £1600 / $1600 / €1499.
Two last Acer launches of note are the Predator XB273K LV and Nitro XV272U RV monitors. The Predator XB273K LV applies a 4K resolution to a mid-sized 27in IPS panel, so should look needle-sharp, and it doesn’t skimp on speed specs either: the refresh rate is 160Hz and grey-to-grey response time is apparently just 0.5ms, which would be outstanding for an IPS monitor if Acer really have pulled it off.
The 27in Nitro XV272U RV goes for a lower 2560x1440 resolution, and a barely higher 1ms response time, but with a higher 170Hz refresh rate. Both monitors will release sometime in Q3 2022; UK availability is TBC, though Acer have confirmed that the Predator XB273K LV will cost $999 / €949, with the Nitro XV272U RV coming in at $449 / €399. For all their tendencies towards overly elaborate laptops, Acer have made some of the best gaming monitors over the years, so I’m looking forward to trying these out.