Buyer's Guide: 3D Monitors (Part 2) - ViewSonic V3D231, LG DM2350D, HP 2311GT

9/17/2012 9:31:30 PM

ViewSonic V3D231

Description: ViewSonic V3D231


Price: $324.8

Size: 23"

Response time: 5ms


The ViewSonic V3D231 is another cheap monitor featuring passive 3D as a way to keep costs low. You might be getting the sense that there's a recurring theme here. Does this one have anything going for it besides the price?

As it happens, not really. The V3D231 is reasonably sturdy and comes with a variety of inputs: DVI, HDMI and VGA (although again, no DisplayPort.) There are built-in speakers, which are rare in 3D monitors at this price, and a headphone-out jack to accompany them. The stand is the only outright disappointment, with no pivot, swivel or height adjustments, and only limited tilt capabilities. This is always a problem when dealing with 3D monitors, which require very accurate placement for their effects to work.

As a 2D monitor, it's wholly unimpressive to the point of being worth avoiding. The polarization filters that make the 3D work undeniably affect 2D images for the worse, dulling the brightness of the screen and blurring the lines, making text a little harder to read than on a normal 2D monitor. These issues affect all monitors using passive 3D, but here they seem unusually pronounced.

Again, what we're left with is a 3D monitor that just about scrapes by as acceptable for the price, but which is worth actively avoiding when it comes to 2D. The only thing going for the V3D231 is its speakers, and that's not exactly praise ViewSonic will be pleased to get.

Ultimately, it's tough to find anything about the monitor that's remarkable in either a positive or negative way. Its color reproduction is perhaps a little better than its shelf-mates, with good visuals across both games and movies, but it's still far below what you'd get if you bought a 2D monitor of the same price, so that's just not enough.


LG DM2350D

Description: LG DM2350D


Price: $379.2

Size: 23"

Response time: 5ms

Input: HDMI. VGA, SCART, component

Described as a 'monitor TV', there's little doubt that LG is aiming this screen at people who want everything rolled into one package. It's a monitor, it has a built-in DVB tuner (with remote) and it has stereoscopic 3D support at an affordable price, compatible with both games and 3D movies. Does that make it all-singing and all-dancing, or a jack of all trades but master of none?

At 23", it makes for a reasonably sized monitor but a rather undersized TV. Still, if you're hoping for an all-in-one package, we can assume space is an issue, so in that sense its size shouldn't be a problem. Certainly, size is some way down its list of flaws as a TV - it's disappointing that the tuner isn't HD-capable, for instance. If you want to view Freeview HD, you'll need a separate set-top box.

The 3D technology (TriDef) is a passive design, meaning you use polarized-lens glasses to view it, which is a plus: not only are they cheap to buy, you even get two pairs included. AMD favors TriDef, and NVidia supports it, but it's undeniably inferior to other, active technologies in terms of the quality of the 3D image. Finding the right place to sit for a perfect picture is trickier than it should be, and even then, the monitor doesn't support 3D Blu-rays through a PC, only through a 3D Blu-ray player.

As a standard 2D monitor, though, the technology looks decent enough on paper. Although the panel is TN-based, with a 1920x1080 native resolution and 5ms response time, the excellent LED backlighting (it has to be good because polarized glasses dull images) means colors are better than typical TN panels. Gamers will have few complaints, but once again there's one major flaw that lets it down, and this one relates primarily to its use as a monitor: it doesn't do DVI.

In fairness, it does have two HDMI ports, as well as VGA, SCART and component inputs, so it's hardly a complete turkey, but the lack of DVI is a serious omission for PC users - particularly in the context of HDMI's notorious compatibility problems with certain video cards and drivers.

So as it turns out, the DM2350D fails to excel as a TV, monitor or 3D display, and that suggests that it's mainly aimed at people with serious space restrictions, but even they will need a separate Blu-ray player and Freeview HD box to get the most out of its capabilities.


HP 2311GT

Description: HP 2311GT


Price: $379.2

Size: 23"

Response time: 5ms


Another fairly low-budget 3D monitor, the HP 2311GT is slightly more expensive than similarly cheap models, but it uses the same kind of passive 3D technology. It's also similarly flimsy. The TN panel with LED backlight has a 1920x1080 resolutions and anti-glare screen coating, making it completely average, technologically speaking.

Connectivity comes through DVI, VGA and HDMI, but there's no DisplayPort input for those who might want to use it. A more glaring omission is its frankly unacceptable lack of adjustability. You can tilt the screen forward or back through 25° and... well, that's it. No pivot, no swivel, no height adjustments. Hey, that's why your chair moves up and down, right?

As with other screens that use this technology, this one comes with a free pair of polarized glasses, which are adequate but not great. They're perhaps a little tighter than they could be, especially if worn over an existing pair of glasses, but at least they work.

We say 'work1. They do if you're in exactly the right spot. For some reason, the HP 2311GT's 3D effects require you to sit 2ft or more away from the monitor in order to get a decent 3D image, instead of two poorly overlapping 2D ones. It's far from enjoyable to try to play a game that far away from your monitor, but at the same time, you'd be too close if you were trying to watch TV. This is, quite frankly, a product-crippling mistake.

It's worth pointing out that the HP 2311X is the exact same monitor sans 3D features, and it can be picked up for $224, so that indicates exactly how much you're paying for the extra technology. As it is, the HP2311GT doesn't quite get anything right. It's not a good enough monitor for us to recommend it as a 2D solution, and its technology isn't good enough for us to recommend it as a 3D one. It's not even the cheapest way to get 3D, so it has nothing going for

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