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- 20th May 2012 -

 1: Main screen, at one of the "cities", 2: A webpage customized using a Street theme, 3a: A navigation map, 3b: Your path to a destination shown on the map, 4: Avatar customization, 5: Meeting other avatars.

3B Seems to take up where ExitReality left off. It is an attempt to be able to make any webpage into a "3D room", and allow they user to navigate those rooms (and chat and have parties) using an avatar. But rather than do this by creating a plug-in for web browsers, #B is its own web browser. Overall it is more slick and successful at doing this. It's far less buggy than ExitReality (though I find I cannot create new rooms within the browser any more). But one has to wonder at what cost this comes.

Within the browser you can look at a page in any of three ways. You can see it as a plain webpage with no 3D component (the default). You can customize a webpage by creating a room based on its URL. The rooms look pretty much as shown above, corridors of  displays which show either images found on that page, a snapshot of the top of the page, or images of pages that that target page links to. The patterns of the corridors change depending upon which theme you apply. You can make the page look like a kids room, a city street, a space port (the theme used for pages in Seconds) and over a dozen more.

You create an avatar to navigate through these rooms (though you can make this invisible). While you can customise this avatar about the only time you'll ever see its face is in this process. Normally you only get to see the rear of it, and only other avatars from other angles. Like Exit Reality it's hard to find other avatars in 3B. Normally you have to know their name and either make them a buddy or invite them to a party, or they'll probably be invisible to you. But even then, where is anybody? It's most likely that 3B was never very popular and that most of the personal rooms on it come from a period about two years ago.

Apart from rooms created by users, there's also the "cities". These are commercial areas that are huge rooms, full of corridors of images that link to products. For example, one of these is the Amazon Affiliate Store. Here's a screen shot from that below:

If I click on this link the browser goes to this page:

Clearly the the way the creators make money out of this is in selling advertising space in the cities. However not all cities are up to date. In the Comics one there are number of dead links. And this really points out the issues in using this browser at all.

Firstly the browser window comes in a fixed size - you can't change that, can't maximize it. Secondly so far as I know it hasn't been updated in two years. That means that potentially (unlike browsers like Explorer and Firefox, which get updates and patches all the time) it's a security risk! Lastly, apart from the "novelty", why would you use this browser to shop anyway? You'd be able to find things easier, and have many more options, in a regular browser anyway! This last point I suspect is why ExitReality and 3B failed - they provided a solution to a problem that didn't exist. Where there was a demand for 3D and virtual worlds, they focused mainly on socialising and in-world content. The successful ones found a niche, but there's no niche for a 3D browser for webpages.

Which in a way is a pity. The big appeal of using this is not the panels on display within the rooms, nor the lackluster avatars that look like the results of a bad day at the clone factory. Rather, it's the incredible backgrounds that come with them (just look at the roof in #1 above). But ultimately that's all inaccessible, a virtual wallpaper that can entice but not deliver.

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