Like many of you, I spent a lot of money for my LCD TV several years ago. When Sony announced their firmware update that allowed for 3D gaming and viewing of 3D Blu-Ray movies, I was tempted to buy another widescreen TV, but couldn’t justify shelling out a few thousand more dollars for it. 3D would have to wait.
Sony did something clever with this product. They bundled a 24″ monitor with 3D glasses, the game Motorstorm Apocalypse, and an HDMI cable and priced it under $500. Suddenly it was a lot more affordable.
The monitor comes packaged in a large box with a carrying handle (another benefit of ordering a smaller TV is that you don’t need a crew of people to carry it upstairs).
Opening it up, you’ll find everything very tightly and impeccably packed, with the HDMI cable, Motorstorm Apocalypse game, documentation, and cardboard box with 3D glasses inside.
Underneath this is the Playstation Display panel wrapped in a protective bag, with the stand underneath it.
Taking the display out of the bag reveals the beautiful, shiny display.
It’s much thinner than I thought it would be, about the width of a dime.
There’s a slight amount of assembly required, which is a snap (literally). You attach the monitor to a stand…
…and the stand to the base. The parts only fit one way, so it’s quite simple. The only thing you need to be careful of is not to drop or scratch the unit (if you have another person in the room, it’d be good to ask for help).
Then, you just plug it into AC (the power cord is only about 5 feet, which was a bit small for my needs), and then plug the HDMI cable from your PS3 to the unit.
It took me a while to find the power button, which is on the back of the unit to the right. There are six buttons in total: a power button, an input selector button (which switches between two HDMI connectors and one set of component (yPbPr) connectors), two volume buttons, a menu button, and a 3D button. They’re all pretty generically shaped and lined up in one column, but to help you out an on-screen diagram will pop up when you press one to make sure you’re pressing the right one. From the menu you can adjust the picture, including Backlight (0 to 10) and Picture Mode (dynamic, standard, cinema). You can also define a custom picture mode, setting your own brightness, contrast, color, hue, sharpness, and color temperature. It can be quite a pain to adjust menu settings with the buttons behind the unit, but you get used to it soon enough.
The PS3 recognized the monitor immediately. The PS3 was already open to the Playstation Store I was pleasantly surprised by the crispness of the display. The blues were the richest I’ve seen on a monitor.
The colors and clarity on the LED display were definitely deeper and crisper than my current LCD TV. Likewise, the sound was powerful (it has 2 channel stereo output at 3W and a subwoofer at 5W built in).
The 3D glasses come in a separate felt pouch, and the lenses come protected with some plastic over them. You pull off the plastic with convenient pull-tabs, which I was a little skittish of at first, but realized that there was no way I could scratch or damage the lens if I just gently pulled on the tab.
It took me a while to figure out how to turn them on–there’s a power switch on the inside for “battery” and then a separate power button on top, both of which need to be switched on. I was very happy to see a mini-USB connector on top (you need to pry open a little door to see it). I was afraid that like other Sony 3D glasses it’d be powered by a watch battery, but it looks like these glasses can be charged (there’s even a small USB-to-mini-USB cable). I wear glasses, but the 3D glasses fit comfortably over them.
I popped in the game “MLB: The Show 11” to test it out. No 3D. I went to the menu options, and the 3D option was greyed out. I finally realized that I had to go to the PS3 menu under “Settings”, and select Video Output Settings > HDMI > Auto and set the screen to 24 inches before 3D would be enabled. Once I did that I returned to the game where now I saw all kinds of new disclaimer screens I didn’t see before referencing 3D.
Within the game, I adjusted the 3D settings. The first settings I tried had a lot of ghosting. But by adjusting the sliders a little I finally got a picture that was absolutely perfect. I wish that Sony had a “universal” setting instead of having us control it game-by-game, but bottom line, if the game developer did it right you will have control over the depth of 3D you can see.
Next, I tried a 3D Blu-Ray which I happened to get today in the mail, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. The disc started up and went right into 3D mode, with the opening menu gloriously popping out of the screen. It was a clean, crisp picture with no ghosting as far as I could tell. As is typical with these active 3D glasses, the picture was very dark even with the backlight set at maximum (it’s like watching a TV screen with sunglasses). But if you sit close enough to the TV and/or adjust the menu settings, you should find a viewing setting that’s comfortable.
Last, I tried connecting it to my laptop, which happens to have an HDMI output jack. To my delight, I was able to go to YouTube’s 3D channel, play videos with the “side by side” viewing method, adjust the 3D mode of the TV, and see the videos in full 3D! Not surprisingly, the picture quality, resolution and color fidelity were excellent. I hadn’t planned on it, but I will be most likely be making this my second computer monitor of choice.
The set does support “SimulView”, which allows two people to play a game watching the same screen with both players seeing their own (2D) view of the game. I wasn’t able to test because I didn’t buy a second pair of glasses (which is kind of pricey at $70), but I’ll update this review once I do.
To sum up, I was honestly a little afraid that at this price Sony might try to push a cheap TV on the masses. But everything about this set screams high quality, from the crisp picture, to the 176/176 viewing angle (meaning that multiple people can be between 2-8 feet from the screen and still see perfect 3D as long as they all have the 3D glasses), to the 5000:1 contrast ratio and 240 Hz refresh rate. Aesthetically, it’s quite gorgeous too–the black, polished screen really looks distinctive, especially next to the sleek lines of the PS3 itself. And surprisingly, I put the 24″ TV next to my 42″ LCD and didn’t really miss the fact too much that it was smaller (granted, I grew up watching a 25″ cathode ray tube TV).
The one possible caveat I’d have about this set is what I’d have about all 3D sets–there are some people who might experience some mild-to-severe nausea. For this reason, I’d recommend you play at a friend’s house or spend a good couple of minutes in front of a store display to make sure you’re not one of those who are affected. For me, I experienced a tiny bit of nausea, but I’ll admit that the coolness factor definitely made up for it. Worst comes to worst, you can switch off the 3D and still have a very high quality LED display.
One other thing to note is that this isn’t a “TV”, as there’s no TV tuner. But with the extra HDMI connector, you can easily plug in a TiVo or a cable box. Ironically, I also plugged in an Xbox 360 using the component cables, and that picture looks crisp as well.
Long story short, if you’ve been tempted to try out 3D, this makes an excellent entry-level display. Interested in purchasing? Here are the best places you can buy it for Christmas 2011:
The best deal I can find right now is from GameStop who has a free copy of the $59.99 game Uncharted 3 with purchase. As you could read in earlier blog posts, this is the one I got.
If you already have that game or aren’t interested, Best Buy has a deal where you can get 50% Off a Second Pair of 3D Glasses with PlayStation 3D Display Bundle. That’s a $35 value.
If you don’t care about extras, Buy.Com has the lowest base price at $469.99, a $30 savings over everyone else.
As word catches on about how great a system this is, I have a feeling it’s going to be harder to find in stock as Christmas approaches, so jump on while you can!