Editors' note: The review and score of this product was updated on November 28, 2011, to reflect the fact that the display only ships with one set of 3D glasses instead of two.
Back in June of this year, Sony delivered what was regarded as one of E3 2011's highlight press conferences. Midway through the spectacle, the company also announced the PlayStation 3D Display, a monitor that would allow two players to simultaneously play a video game without having to split a single screen. Using a technology Sony has dubbed "SimulView," the TV allows players to wear 3D glasses in order to view their own image--though of course that image isn't in 3D.
It may sound a bit confusing, but the TV is using basic stereoscopic 3D technology to present two separate 2D video streams. Looking like static to the naked eye, players must wear the glasses to ensure they see their own screen. I'm happy to report the technology does in fact work well, but aside from its main bragging point, there are a laundry list of impracticalities and questionable real-world applications that give us great difficulty in genuinely recommending the PlayStation 3D Display to anyone in particular.
When I first saw the PlayStation 3D Display at E3 2011, it was being positioned as the "dorm room" solution to 3D gaming. After my month of testing the unit, a dorm room might be the only living quarters tight enough to warrant the purchase of such a tiny TV.
At just 23.5 inches, the display looks small when sitting 6 or more feet away from the screen. That said, I can't imagine anyone would want to sit more than an arm's length away from the TV anyway because believe it or not, Sony isn't shipping it with a remote control.
You read correctly. Instead of using a remote to switch inputs or change settings, users must blindly fish around back for a set of six buttons. The only silver lining here is that once you tap one of them, a visual guide pops up on screen to better help you feel your way around to the others. For a retail price of $500, an included remote control isn't asking a lot.
Not all is lost on the remote front, though. You can purchase one separately or use a universal one to control it.
Design and features
There's not a whole lot of bells and whistles to talk about with the Sony PlayStation 3D Display. It offers two HDMI ports and one component input. There's no tuner here; it's a display, not a TV. I really appreciated the headphone jack around back, though, especially for those intense gaming sessions where I didn't want to disturb my office neighbors.
The display also ships with one HDMI cable and a copy of MotorStorm: Apocalypse, one of the four games that currently support the SimulView function. The others SimulView-compatible games are Gran Turismo 5, Killzone 3, and Super Stardust HD. I'm sure more titles that support the feature will see the light of day, but purchasing the display on that hope is a bit of a gamble for a $500 investment.
In terms of design, the display is actually pretty sharp. Its rounded sides present a sleek and edgy demeanor, with the unit's speakers hidden in grilles that flank the display on either side. The included stand is a nice touch and it's very easy to attach the display to.
One feature I became quickly annoyed with is the display's eagerness to shut off when a signal isn't being detected. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for power-saving provisions, but the Sony display jumps the gun way too prematurely. In what seems like a matter of seconds, the blue LED on-light turns red, indicating standby mode has been activated. This is especially irritating when switching sources and reinforces the frustrating absence of a remote control.
The display only comes with one pair of PlayStation-branded 3D glasses as well as one incredibly short Micro-USB charging cable. I'm a little confused as to why only one pair is included, especially since Sony sent me two for testing. It contradicts the display's highlight feature: the ability to give two players their own screen for SimulView gaming. An extra pair of glasses is $70, meaning you'll need to spend a minimum total of $570 to get the SimulView gaming experience.
Perhaps my biggest gripe with the display is the highly reflective glass cover that really dampens the gaming and viewing experience. The glare is just awful. It's so bad that when I pause a game, I can use the display as a mirror.
Setting up the display isn't overly complicated, but you may find yourself going through a bit of trial and error when attempting to get the SimulView working correctly. A flashing red light indicates which player each set of glasses is assigned to; you may have to hold down or quickly press the power button on the glasses until you get it squared away correctly.