Review: Sony PlayStation 3D Display
The idea behind the PlayStation 3D display was nothing short of genius. How long have gamers longed for technology that eliminates other gamers being able to see their moves ("screen-watching") while they play split-screen games together?
Siobhan Keogh | Tuesday, April 10 2012
Product type: 24-inch 3D monitor for PS3
RRP incl GST: $850
- SimulView works, but is hard on the brain
- 1080p, 3D display
- Only comes in 24-inch model
- Screen is too dark with 3D turned on
Good for one person, but not for two.
The idea behind the PlayStation 3D display was nothing short of genius. How long have gamers longed for technology that eliminates other gamers being able to see their moves ("screen-watching") while they play split-screen games together? There's nothing worse than going to deliver the killer blow, only to have your opponent see you make the move and counter it. The Playstation 3D display promised to solve that, and frankly, the display was the only announcement from E3 2011 that got me really excited. But as I started to use the monitor, my excitement started to fade.
The PlayStation 3D Display has a full HD, 1080p screen and is around the size of a large PC monitor at 24 inches. It was incredibly easy to set up: the pieces simply clicked together, with the exception of one screw that didn't even require a screwdriver.
Setting up the its splitscreen-eliminating tech, SimulView, was not so easy. When it's turned on, the monitor turns itself off after mere seconds if it doesn't detect a signal from another HDMI-capable device. However, the PlayStation detects what kind of display is available when it starts up, so in order to get SimulView running, we had to start the monitor up with the PlayStation plugged in, then immediately start up the console before the display turned itself off again. That way, the PlayStation would detect that it was connected to the right device and I could mess with in-game settings to set up SimulView play.
All of this was made just a little bit more annoying by the fact that the display doesn't come with a remote. You have to get up and walk over to it every time you want to change the volume, or adjust the brightness settings.
The PlayStation 3D Display eliminates screen-watching because both players wear a pair of active 3D glasses. With SimulView switched on, one image is sent to one set of glasses, so they can see what their character sees, while a completely different image is sent to the other set. Technically you can still screen-watch, because you can switch which of the two screen views you see by tapping a button on the top of the glasses, but it's a lot more difficult to do than it has been in the past.
There was no blurring or crosstalk to speak of, despite the fact that two separate images are being presented. This was true both while using SimulView, and while using plain old 3D, which is also available on the monitor. In fact, 3D is clearer on the PlayStation display than it is on many 3D TVs, Sony's own Bravia range included. However, we did have to turn off the lights in the room and turn the monitor's brightness all the way up, because turning 3D on made the picture way too dark to see anything otherwise. That applies to turning SimulView on, as well.
Not long into our game of Killzone 3, both my gaming partner and I had gotten headaches from SimulView - and neither of us has gotten headachey from 3D movies or games in the past.
Given that the 3D works, and SimulView works, you might think those are minor issues in the grand scheme of things. You can, of course, get off your butt and mess with the buttons on the back of the display to change the volume. You can turn off the lights. You can set things up in a particular order. Minor niggles. But there's one really big problem with the PlayStation 3D Display that I just couldn't get past - the sound quality.
I have used Konka TVs of a similar size to this monitor that have better, less tinny sound. Come to that, I've used TVs from the 80s and 90s that had better sound. Any minor rise in volume would cause the speakers on the PlayStation 3D display to flip right out and screech. We had to turn the volume almost the whole way down just for the game to be playable - not great if you're sitting on the couch a couple of metres away from your TV. It might be okay in a hall of residence, but not in a living room.
I wanted so badly to like the PlayStation 3D Display, but in the end it fell well and truly short of my expectations. If you want to use it at a desk like a PC gamer, where you're well in reach of the controls and able to hear the sound at low levels, that might be okay. But the device is designed to be used by more than one person at a time, so who's going to do that? Ideas are great. Well-executed ideas are better.
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