It's been hyped since it was announced at E3 earlier this year... the PlayStation 3D Display. Is it worth the hype? And more importantly, is it worth your hard-earned dollars? Let's take a look.
From the second you pull open the box you'll notice one thing, this display is sleek, and I mean really sleek. It's quite compact, super thin, and super light. Putting it together is a snap, as the base easily snaps onto the display itself, with only two screws that don't even require a screwdriver. Just don't expect to hang this set on a wall, as it's not currently designed for it.
Next comes the hook-up. The AC adapter for the display comes separately, and is quite easy to secure into the set. The PlayStation 3D display has, for the most part, everything the modern gamer/viewer needs. Two HDMI ports, and 1 set of ports for component cables are easily located on the right side, out of sight. It's fairly easy to hide the wires for whatever you have plugged into the display, as the ports are situated inwards a bit. There's also a headphone jack which complements the set nicely when it comes to late night gaming and viewing sessions.
One fairly large setback, at least for some, may be the absence of a coaxial cable input/TV tuner. As I was setting the display up, I looked around the back for a good 5 minutes, thinking that I was just too blind to find it, but no, there are no coaxial inputs for this display. Because after-all, Sony never referred to this as TV set, only a display, so make sure you're aware of this. Now, the advertisements do state that you can plug a cable box into the display via the component cable ports, but those component-enabled boxes are normally only available in the main room of a house (at least in Comcast's case), with their smaller counterparts in other rooms only capable of coaxial output. For those in college, or those in smaller rooms or apartments who have their own cable box with component-out, this is great, but for the younger folks out there, or those using the display in alternate rooms, this can prove to be rather bothersome if you were expecting a TV tuner. There is also no remote control, which may also prove to be an inconvenience for some, though any Sony TV remote will work for the set's most basic functions.
Now let's take a look at the meat and potatoes of this review... video and sound quality. Upon turning on the display, you'll notice that it comes on fast, really fast, we're talking 2-3 seconds, with no waiting for warm-up required. The PlayStation 3, the system I used for this review, and my primary entertainment medium of choice, recognized the display via the HDMI cable instantly, and only required a confirmation that I wanted to use the new resolution settings. With a quick tap of the 'X' button, my PlayStation 3 welcomed me in, and the XMB (Xross Media Bar) never looked sexier. The picture was absolutely phenomenal, definitely top-tier, and I've seen a lot of the high-end HD sets from makers like Samsung and SHARP, so that's saying something. The display is capable of reaching resolutions of up to 1080p, so you're certainly not missing anything. There are several preset video modes, along with a custom mode. I opted for the dynamic preset mode, along with a warmer picture. Now, one can't possibly judge the visual quality of this set based on a mere menu, so I went on a tirade, throwing in some of the most visually appealing titles in the PS3's library.
Everything from Gran Turismo 5, to Uncharted 3 and beyond were tested and, needless to say, everything looked brilliant. Everything from the gorgeously vivid picture, to the refresh rate (240hz) was superb, the only downside was the display's size. Coming in at a mere 24", you have to get up pretty darn close if you want to actually see all the detail that this set is displaying in HD, and this can lead to some eye-strain, which is yet another reason why this set was designed for smaller rooms and, ideally, dorms and bedrooms. However, the visuals were still beautiful, regardless of the game or video, and had me thinking just how good this would look had Sony opted for a larger version of the display.
Next came the 3D portion, which turned out much better than I had anticipated. The display comes with a pair of active-shutter 3D glasses, and MotorStorm: Apocalypse. The glasses, if you've never dealt with them, come with a USB cable, and can be charged directly from the PS3, or other USB power source. I first decided to give Gran Turismo 5 a go with the glasses, and then moved on to Uncharted 3. The visuals were quite impressive, and the 3D capabilities really did add a sense of depth to the action. The only downside, at least for folks like me, is that if your vision is good, then your eyes can't really decide what to focus on. Additionally, if the 3D effect is turned up too high, eye-strain can really start to kick in, even if you're up close. I eventually moved onto MotorStorm: Apocalypse, and the 3D effects in that game are phenomenal, as you can tell that Sony really pushed the feature hard in that game. Rain feels like it's hitting your glasses, debris is flying everywhere... it's a frantic free-for-all, and is quite awesome. 3D will be hit-or-miss for most, but if it doesn't effect your eyes in a negative way, you'll more than likely love it.
Now on to the SimulView portion of the review. If you're not familiar with it, SimulView allows two players with 3D glasses to play a two-player game and, instead of dealing with a split screen view, each player actually gets a full-screen view, as if each were playing in single-player mode. Having tried this with MotorStorm: Apocalypse, I can honestly say that this is one of the more redeeming qualities about the active-shutter glasses, as this feature works darn near flawlessly. Now, each player doesn't see 3D, they see HD, but that's still fine, because the 3D can sometimes be a distraction. So if you've been wondering if SimulView is a gimmick, it's really not. The image comes in clear, and the only time you ever see ghosting from the other player is if you're standing directly to the side of the TV, and no one is going to be that far to the side.
With the video down, let's take a look at the audio. The PlayStation 3D display can definitely get loud, really loud, but that doesn't mean that you're always going to get pristine sound either. The specs for the display boast about the subwoofer located in the back of the unit, but the subwoofer is only 5 watts, and is near non-existent when you try to pump up the bass. There are several preset sound options, but I've found the default (0 treble, 0 bass) setting to work out the best, as any real increase in bass tends to distort the sound a bit, creating a bit of a "jarring" sound when the volume is increased. With the treble and base at the default level, the sound is actually quite good. Luckily, the PS3 has the option for multi-audio out, so you can add in a surround sound system or other alternate audio source if you prefer.
All-in-all, Sony's effort to bring HD/3D to the masses in this pint-sized package seems to have been a good one, as this set is of high quality and versatile enough to work with a cable box, game console, and laptop. If you're looking for something to replace your main, larger television, then this 24" display probably won't be for you. However, if you're a gamer or media buff who has limited space, or a desktop set-up, then the PlayStation 3D display is ideal. The quality is fantastic, the video performance is superb and, despite the few drawbacks, this display really has a lot going for it, especially for the viewer on a budget.
[ + ] Beautiful, seamless design
[ + ] Superior video quality, with simple, easy-to-navigate menus
[ + ] 1080p HD + 3D support
[ + ] Piece of cake to set-up
[ + ] Includes 3D glasses and MotorStorm: Apocalypse
[ + ] Space-saving, compact size
[ + ] Lightweight
[ + ] Syncs up seamlessly with a PlayStation 3
[ + ] Doubles as high-end HD computer monitor
[ - ] No coaxial input/TV tuner
[ - ] Not wall-mountable
[ - ] No remote included
[ - ] Initial set-up only comes with 1 pair of 3D glasses
[ - ] Sound performance, while decent, is lacking in the bass area
Give or take:
[ +/- ] 3D may not appeal to all viewers
[ +/- ] Screen is gorgeous, but suffers from glare when bright lights are on
[ +/- ] Depending on the room, screen size may/may not be too small
[ +/- ] While sound performance is lacking, many probably won't have a problem with it