Not content with rewriting the TV rulebook with its Cinema 3D TVs, LG is now deploying its low-cost passive 3D screen tech in the PC monitor field. The 23-inch LG Cinema 3D D2342P is available now for around £230.
First-generation 3D PC monitors built around Nvidia's 3D Vision system use the same active shutter gubbins found in the majority of flatscreen TVs. This means bulky and expensive shuttering glasses are required to create a 3D effect.
Cinema 3D is rather different. Any old 3D specs looted from your local multiplex will do the job. LG includes one pair of glasses in the box, along with polarising clip-ons for spectacle wearers.
The display is a 23-inch LED-backlit LCD. It sits, rather precariously, on a small pedestal stand with a 15-degree recline. Design-wise it's generic but smart. The monitor has a lightweight, plasticky construction, albeit with a pleasingly thin bezel.
The only embellishment is a bright blue illuminated power button at the bottom right. It sits next to a fistful of small buttons that access the main menu 3D and Eco display settings. The on-screen display itself is equally discreet. Rather than appearing in the centre of the screen it's apologetically small and lives in a corner.
To stress its green credentials, the screen has a dynamic Super Energy Savings mode, which is all very creditable. Be warned though, that image brightness dims quite significantly when this is engaged.
2D image quality is something of a mixed bag. Its black levels are not particularly deep, through a variety of test footage confirms a high level of detail, with low levels of noise. Tweaking enthusiasts will enjoy the extensive range of picture parameter controls on offer, from colour temperature presets to user-driven RGB levels, contrast and black level. In the menus there's a High/Low black level toggle -- the latter compresses the greyscale (so there's fewer levels of gradation between black and white) but gives a punchier picture.
We found the optimum picture clarity was at 1,680x1,050 pixels at 60Hz. Text clarity is significantly better via the PC D-Sub port at this resolution than HDMI at 1,920x1,080 pixels. For general PC duties, Web browsing and office work, this is the way to go. 2D gaming looks crisp and fluid.
The panel has a pixel pitch -- the distance between pixels of the same colour -- of 0.265mm x 0.265mm. LG quotes a 5ms response time.
Unlike Active Shutter technology, which requires shuttering 60Hz LCD eyeware to create a 3D picture, FPR puts the onus on the TV to sort out stereoscopic filtering.
The principal catch with Cinema 3D is that any incoming 3D signal has its resolution halved. Whether it's Full HD 3D from a Blu-ray or Nvidia's 3D Vision kit, or bandwidth-friendly side-by-side, what arrives at your peepers has half the horizontal resolution it started with (give or take some upscaling).
On a large-screen TV, this loss of resolution is evident in jaggy diagonals. On a screen as small as this, these artefacts are far less obvious, even though it's still possible to see some filter structure in the image. The upside is there's no electronic flickering to contend with. The sense of depth is also quite pronounced. The end result is a 3D viewing experience that trades some clarity for added comfort.
Naturally, all the usual ways of displaying 3D are supported: frame packing, side-by-side and top & bottom. You can also flip right-left images. The only real caveat is that the viewing angle is astonishingly tight. Deviate from a square-on viewpoint by just a few centimetres and what begins as a clear image suddenly splits apart.
Passive 3D screens like this are quite susceptible to crosstalk -- ghosting -- on the vertical plane. Of course, once you've aligned the monitor for your own use, this shouldn't prove too much of an issue. Just remember to sit dead still when gaming or rewatching Ice Age 3D.
This acute viewing angle doesn't just affect 3D. When viewed off-axis in 2D mode, we noticed white-ish greys tinge a fetching shade of pink. For what it's worth, LG suggests the optimum viewing distance is between 50cm and 90cm.
We're glad to see LG's low-cost, easy on the eye Cinema 3D migrate to the PC monitor market. Freedom from cumbersome, flickering Active Shutter glances is a boon for 3D PC gamers. Just bear in mind the general tightness of its stereoscopic sweetspot -- there really isn't much leeway.
If you can live with this restriction, LG's D2342P is a uniquely attractive proposition.
Edited by Nick Hide