Buyer's Guide: 3D Monitors (Part 1) - LG D2342P, AOC e2352PHz

9/17/2012 9:30:33 PM

3D monitors are fast becoming the must-have high-end accessory. Admittedly, most of us have no interest in wearing bulky, screen-dimming glasses or shelling out hundreds of extra pounds so that we can watch films like Tron: Legacy in their full three-dimensional splendor. But let's face it, 3D isn't going to go away, and it's just starting to reach the point where maybe you could actually afford to buy one. In this guide, we'll look at a selection of 3D monitors from across the price range and help you choose which one is right for you.

The big decision when choosing a 3D monitor revolves around whether you choose one with active or passive 3D capabilities.

Without going too deeply into the reasons for the name, active 3D requires you to wear powered glasses, which are bulky, comparatively expensive and need to be synced with the screen's output using a sensor. Active 3D, however, tends to be brighter and more well-defined than the alternative.

Passive 3D, by comparison, uses a polarized screen and inexpensive, unpowered polarized-lens glasses, which most people find more comfortable. It does, however, give worse-looking visuals.

In particular, polarized displays effectively halve the resolution of the image you see in order to make 3D work. This is because they 'interlace' the images for the left and right eye to display both simultaneously at different polarizations to achieve a 3D effect. By comparison, active shutters turn each lens on or off at an incredibly fast rate while the monitor flips between two images at twice the normal update speed, allowing them to show 3D at full resolution.

The passive technology currently in most 3D monitors includes a software component called 'TriDef Ignition' which is a program that automatically scans your PC for games it recognizes. It then converts those titles into full 3D using standard profiles. TriDef also includes its own photo and media player applications which can play in 3D, but be aware that they don't play 3D Blu-ray discs.


LG D2342P

Description: LG D2342P


Price: $300.8

Size: 23"

Response time: 5ms


Currently one of if not the absolute cheapest 3D monitor on the market at a mere £188, the LG Cinema 3D D2342P is undeniably one of the easiest ways to get your computer displaying content in 3D without breaking the bank. But is it actually worth the money?

The LED-backlit display is 23" and has a full HD resolution of 1920x1080, so at first glance it's not cutting any obvious corners on size or display quality. The base is a little smaller than it could be, and the plastic the shell is made of feels flimsy and cheap, but that's the sort of thing that's easy to forgive if the screen is actually any good.

Sadly, it's not actually that impressive. The blacks aren't very deep, and the color reproduction is merely okay. There are worse screens around, but they cost half what this one does. The viewing angle is particularly small when viewing 3D, and you won't be able to move your head very far in any direction if you want to keep the effect working.

You get one proper pair of 3D glasses in the box, but because they're passive, it's worth pointing out that any you may have forgotten to return at the cinema will work just as well. Like all passive 3D glasses, they're light and not entirely uncomfortable. Better yet, if you already wear glasses, there's a pair of clip-ons provided as well.

LG's 3D technology (called Cinema 3D) works like most passive systems, halving the resolution of incoming images to achieve the 3D effect. The rather low-tech approach is what explains the low price of this monitor compared to those at the higher end of the spectrum: it's quite literally half as good.

As a result, you're never going to get a particularly high-quality picture out of it, but if you're not precious about that sort of thing, it's at least possible to enjoy having access to 3D. We wouldn't recommend it to anyone who can afford better, but at this price it's the cheapest way to get a 3D display, and doubtlessly there will be people who buy it for that reason alone.


AOC e2352PHz

Description: AOC e2352PHz


Price: $313.6

Size: 23"

Response time: 5ms


The AOC e2352PHz monitor conforms to familiar specs, with a 23" passive 3D screen, bundled with TriDef software. Unlike NVidia's competing 3D Vision system, TriDef uses cheap, lightweight polarized glasses instead of active shutter ones, and these are included in the box alongside clip-ons for those who already wear glasses.

The problems with TriDef are well documented, but the price of monitors that use it is hard to ignore, and that definitely applies to AOC's sub-£200 offerings, which are among the cheapest on the market.

However, unless you're a very heavy gamer, it's worth remembering that 3D monitors are only running in 3D for a fraction of the time that you're using them. In 2D mode, the e2352PHz is no better than any other cheap TN panel, with the added problem that its 3D polarization creates some slight negative effects. Viewing angles are poor and color reproduction is bad.

If anything separates the e2352PHz from its cohorts, it's that the documentation with this monitor is rather poor. There's little in the way of instructions to help you configure and use the 3D software, even though it's integral to the monitor's proper usage. The display control buttons are also a little worse than they could be, with hard-to-read icons that you might find it difficult to identify in poor light.

Still, it's not the worst 3D monitor available, and its competitive pricing makes it a decent choice if you're determined to go for something at this end of the market. As long as you can handle the poor documentation, you'll get along fine with it.

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