Theater loaners are lousy: Buy your own 3-D eyewear. Plus, in the home market, passive TV technology seems to be winning out over battery-powered active options, meaning these specs will cover you from cineplex to sofa.
1. Oakley 3D Gascan
Oakley’s polarizing looks are always an issue. But there’s no denying the company’s optical precision. Some brands suffer distortion from curved lenses; Oakley delivers full wraparounds without eyestrain. The Gascan bends sharply at the temples to keep the frame out of the periphery, but there’s no perceptible image shift. And only the Gunnars could compete when it came to clarity and color fidelity. These are the best all-around 3-D glasses we’ve tried. They’d be even better with a matte frame to cut glare.
WIRED: Distortion-free light transfer. No noticeable ghosting between left and right images. Lightweight, sport-inspired design for no-fuss fit.
TIRED: Aggro design not for everybody. Glossy frame bounces light.
2. Gunnar Midnight 3D
Our favorite in the style department, the Midnight was at or near the top in terms of image quality, too. Though it doesn’t wrap as extensively as the Gascan, the metal frame boasts a superthin construction and matte finish that combine to reduce disruption in the periphery. True to Gunnar’s tech-eyewear heritage, the Midnight fights eyestrain with minimal tinting, precision geometry, and hard coatings that survived two drops onto a concrete floor without any visible scratches. They do cost a lot of scratch, though.
WIRED: Slick design would be at home on the streets of Stockholm. Spring-loaded hinges snap into place.
TIRED: Smallish lenses leave the frame visible in all directions. Nose pads pinched some testers. Costly.
3. Polaroid VIP
The cheapest glasses in our lineup certainly felt that way. The plastic frame seems more kids’ toy than performance eyewear. But that might be the point: If you’ve got kids and a 3-D TV, you’re going to have kids breaking 3-D glasses. The VIPs are inexpensive enough to replace but not so cheap that image quality is unacceptable. The high, full-wrap frame delivered the most unobstructed view in our test, and the lenses let through as much light as pricier options. They add a yellow tint, though—faint but noticeable.
WIRED: Lusciously wide field of view. Hard-shell carrying case. Competitive with glasses that cost five times as much.
TIRED: Give everything a mild sepia wash. White frame produces more glare.
4. Marchon EX3D
Each time our testers tried these on, the reaction was the same: five to 10 awkward seconds as their eyes adjusted. That’s not just image shift; it’s different shifts in each lens, meaning your brain has to work to realign everything into a single image. Like the VIPs, these rely on flimsier materials and construction to keep costs down. But ghosting is minimal, and color transmission approaches that of high-end models—bright with a faint cool-blue tint. Definitely better than the loaners you get at theaters, but frequent use would be a struggle.
WIRED: Snug frame and rubberized nosepiece for possibly the most comfortable fit of the bunch.
TIRED: Hinges don’t feel like they’ll last long. Tear-inducing eyestrain.