Crappy Aiptek 3D i2 is Crap

Update: The 16th of September Aiptek released a firmware update to fix the frame-rate issue. Sadly I had returned mine before I could try the update, and seeing how the product was working out of the box still says something about the quality assurance!

I am quite interested in stereoscopic media, and I have been so for a very long time. Even then I have not yet ventured into the field of content creation, but I have plans! To soothe my fascination with S3D pictures and video I put down an order for the Aiptek 3D i2 as soon as it came in stock, this because it is a very economical purchase, at least compared to the Fujifilm Real 3D W1 which I will mention further down. The i2 camera showed up a few days later and I went to pick it up. It did feel a bit plasticky but not totally bad. It was already getting dark outside as I had spent the day out of town so when tried it and noticed a very sluggish framerate I assumed it might need a bright sunlit day to work properly. This was very positive thinking on my part, but I had a tiny suspicion. The morning after me and the 3D camera went out into the brilliant sunshine, and to my dismay the camera still recorded a stuttering video just like the day before. Sure it has two very small lenses and it is a cheap brand, but the specifications says 720p in 30fps, so I was quite disappointed! I decided to check how low the frame rate actually was. Back at my computer I took a closer look at the recorded video files. The camera sure saved in 30 fps, but many of the frames were the same, making it appear to have a much lower frame rate at playback! When I ran it through a video converter it reported how many unique and total frames it had: 136 unique frames out of 1360 frames in total. That is only 10%! This means the effective frame rate is  3fps instead of 30 fps! This of course was unacceptable and it had me promptly putting that test video on Youtube. To see it in the 3D player you need to click over to the site.

Of course I deemed the product to not represent what was advertised and I asked if I could return it. I got to pay for shipping it back as it was not broken, just not up to spec, and now they have finally approved a buyback so I will get my money back! I still ended up a bit unhappy as I was naively thinking (even though I knew Aiptek to be a low quality brand) that I would get a nice solution for spontaneous S3D content creation. Apparently it was not to be! Update: For your reference I have also attached a few pictures taken with it. The noise levels in a dark room are quite horrible, but not as apparent here as I have scaled the images down. In daylight it actually works as well as my digital camera from six years ago, except that each image gets slightly different color, you can easily see this in the road picture.

About the Fujifilm Real 3D W1; I was very hyped for this product when it was first announced but as it was quite expensive and practically impossible to find in a store for testing I did not spontaneously buy it. I finally did get a hands on experience at a photographic fair, and even though it’s a solid piece of hardware I am still not buying it. This mostly because the 3D screen does not work well for me at all; it works by shifting the display back and forth beneath a parallax barrier so  each eye gets 30 fps 60 flickering Hz individually. A static parallax barrier display would probably be more comfortable due to the light being constant. Also, the buttons to control it are very unintuitive as they have two commands and you have to tilt them one way or the other, all of them. I really liked the general concept but I wish Fujifilm would make a revised model with a different screen, new interface and buttons and a better movie mode. And to keep the price down they could also skip the optical zoom as it probably messes up the baseline anyway. That’s what I think!

About Andreas Aronsson

Professional app- & web-developer. Spare time multimedia experimenter, VR-enthusiast, motorcyclist. In Sweden.
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17 Responses to Crappy Aiptek 3D i2 is Crap

  1. George Themelis says:

    I have the Fuji since October and I love it. The screen is fantastic so I cannot understand what your issue with it is. But seems that your wish will become true in a few weeks when Fuji introduces a revised model.

  2. Since being a PC gamer with a CRT monitor anything from 60 hz and lower hurts my eyes! :P The screen alternating at 60 hz giving each eye only 30 fps is not helping me! And I have to ask, where did you hear that they are making an updated model? :O Google fails me!

  3. Andrew Woods says:

    Thanks for the review of the Aiptek.
    I have the Fuji W1 and also think it is great. The screen on the back of the Fuji is not a parallax barrier – it seems to be a new autostereoscopic 3D display technology from 3M, which allows full panel resolution per eye (parallax barrier is only half) and the frame rate is 120Hz total for 60Hz per eye (not 60Hz total for 30Hz per eye). The screen has no obvious flicker. The 3D screen does have a level of crosstalk, but it is more usable than a parallax barrier and so much better than a 2D screen. It is great to be able to show off the 3D images at the drop of a hat.

  4. You’re very welcome Andrew! I found your site very interesting and will have to drill deeper when I get time!

    Apparently my mind was thinking very backwards! In this video which I recoded in 420 fps a cycle displaying right and left images takes 7 frames. Calculating 420/7 = 60 Hz meaning the effective frame rate sure is 120 Hz.
    From what I understood they move a screen behind a parallax barrier to shift the direction of the light, instead of cutting the resolution in half.
    Still, the time the screen is completely dark is at least 50% due to the shifting, which makes it a very harsh 60 Hz flicker for eyes used to higher frequencies. This is mainly the reason why I have not bought a 120 Hz computer monitor for 3D purposes, though I keep my hopes up for a 200 Hz panel eventually! But, even then the alternation will still mean 50% image time per eye, always, but the increased Hz will help.

    And I sure long for an easy to use 3D camera :) The rig I’m currently trying to build consists out of two separate cameras which might be completely out of sync etc, but I’m still waiting for stuff off of eBay! And then again there will not be any easy way to view photos in 3D at once and they will require post processing, something I will have to look into when the time comes.

  5. Albert Lowell says:

    The video does look odd. Are all the tags listed for 3D viewing?

  6. You need to click over to the Youtube site to get to the actual 3D version of the flash player. Otherwise the file uploaded was directly from the camera.

  7. Philip Heggie says:

    What was it’s true video framerate for recording 2d video? It might be best for 3d stills and just sluggish at encoding 3d video.

  8. Michael says:

    Thanks for the review of the Aiptek and suffering for the team. Good thing you got all your money back! :)

    I agree with you that the W1’s screen is not for everyone. I am fine with it, but many of my friends can not stand it like you. I also thought the buttons were unintuitive, but in daily use, some of the controls proved very intuitive, except the rocker-style of the buttons is still a bit odd.

    I recommend you have another look at the W1. For on-the-go shooting, it is still the most practical device. Not as good quality footage as the new panasonic, but you don’t have to fiddle with manual parallax adjustments like the panasonic and a home-made rig which limits you to static, tripod shots. The new Fuji firmware fixed all the white balance errors and improved syncing. Check my website. Most of my footage was shot with the W1.

  9. Philip, I’m not sure, but I think it was about the same… thought it felt a bit quicker. Still, just about any very cheap camcorder would do better 2D video, this quality reminds me of an old crappy webcam. For photos… as soon as you don’t have full sunshine you get immense amounts of crazy noise, not recommended.

    Michael, it was my displeasure! :P I might give the W1 a second look if my home built rig frustrates me enough ;) When you say new Panasonic camera, are you talking about their prosumer camcorcer?

  10. And there it is. I am slightly disappointed with no update to the sensors or optics… but I will check it out if I ever see it in a store. Perhaps it’s more likely now when it looks more like a normal camera :) Interface designers should know that following known conventions is key if you want to make people feel familiar. Perhaps they wanted the W1 to feel entirely new, but at the same time the alienated most compact camera owners! Oh, I’m rambling, enough speculation :P

  11. Francois says:

    You probably know by now that Fuji has just introduced an upgraded version of the W1 in the form of the W3. You’ll also be happy to learn that Fuji has addressed all the shortcoming you listed: The screen in now static parallax barrier, the buttons are now intuitive wheels at the right, the movie mode is HD 720p and the price has been lowered…

  12. Yes, that camera was what my comment above was all about! I’m quite excited about the development, though I’m still a bit worried that there might not be any update to neither sensors or optics. The camera itself does not have very many strong points as a compact, mainly no wide angle, no fast lens and no back lit sensor, which I have come to expect from the latest premium compacts. Then again this camera is basically two non-premium compacts put together, so I guess I shouldn’t require it to do wonders. I am still very interested in it :)

  13. Al says:

    I agree, Aiptek 3D is crap, just got it and within 1 hour I knew I didn’t want to keep it and am returning it. Doesn’t look like HD at all and frame rate sucks, even after doing a firmware upgrade. I’ve purchased Aiptek products before and am generally happy with them but this one really disappointed. I noticed the goofy pinkish tint as well, whats up with that. I also tested the anaglyph conversion tool and it makes all the videos grainy. (don’t have a 3D TV just yet) The 3D stills are ok and for $50 bucks would be worth as a 3D still camera. Maybe this technology is too new, I’m sure things will get better but don’t just make a 3D product just for the sake of 3D, at least make it somewhat acceptable Aiptek!

  14. Brad says:

    there is a firmware update for the aiptek on their European site that fixes the framerate issues you ran into. I installed it on an American device without issue and the video now moves at a crisp 29.97fps. looks like it was a bug of some kind…

  15. Yes, I read about that when it happened :) I’ve been meaning to update this post but I have neglected it! I will read up on the firmware update and make a notice about it! Sadly I returned my camera very quickly as I assumed it was just bad hardware choices, and when I decide to get a 3D camera again it might be the Fujifilm W3, but I’m still trying to find a store where they have it up for display so I can try it out.

  16. Mike says:

    I own the Fuji W3 and it is simply amazing! Instant, Glasses-Free, REAL 3D -Stereoscopic
    on-screen, huge display, 2x 10MP Cameras, 3x Optical Zoom, Full HD-3D Video Capture, HDMI Output, Smaller & Lighter… damn, this shit it straight out of the future!

    Fujifilm did it again – innovation and style! First one on the Market-Floor kickin ass!
    This thing is even affordable at 399$. Im loving it – and remember:

    2-D is the new Black & White ;-)

    Awsome piece of candy here people – I was chilling in Bangkok for a few weeks and when I came home I showed off my 3-D Pics & Videos on my Big-Screen 3-D TV (Im talking BIG Screen here!) and it was amazing!

  17. Haha, you sound more like an ad than anything Mike :P I do own the W3 since December last year, and I will have a post up about it soon. A kind of review but not really, heh! I do agree that it’s well worth the investment :)

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