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LG Cinema 3D D2542P-PN review: LG Cinema 3D D2542P-PN

LG's D2542P-PN is more suited to console playing and movie watching when in 3D mode, but as a straight monitor there's much better value to be had elsewhere.

Craig Simms
Craig Simms Special to CNET News
Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.
9 min read

Despite the huge marketing push, 3D has never appealed to us. The clunky glasses, the eye strain, the potential headaches induced by active shutter solutions — it's always seemed nothing more than a novelty designed to sell more TVs. Even that didn't quite work out as planned, with 3D slowly making its way to being just another check box on the features list.


LG Cinema 3D D2542P-PN

The Good

Fantastic black levels. Passive 3D is much kinder on the eyes than active. Front-mounted buttons and context-sensitive OSD make the monitor easy to use. Zero defective pixel policy.

The Bad

Not great when used as a PC monitor. Better image quality out there for cheaper if you choose to forsake 3D. Crashing software for PC games. Competitors offer better than LG's one-year warranty. Display overly sharp. Wobbly stand.

The Bottom Line

LG's D2542P-PN is more suited to console playing and movie watching when in 3D mode, but as a straight monitor there's much better value to be had elsewhere.

And so here we have LG's Cinema 3D D2542P-PN — a solution that uses passive 3D glasses, which are lighter and induce considerably less eye strain. For prescription wearers, LG thoughtfully includes a lens-clip version, which due to being frameless is more immersive than the default set.

While 3D is certainly the marquee feature on the box, we want to see if it stacks up as a standard monitor as well. To the test lab!

LG's fascia is quite plain.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Specs at a glance

Size 25 inches
Resolution 1920x1080
Aspect ratio 16:9
Pixel pitch 0.288
Panel technology TN
Viewing angles
(10:1 contrast)
H: 170°
V: 160°
Response time 5ms black to black
Max vertical refresh 60Hz
Connections VGA, DVI, HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack (for HDMI/DisplayPort audio-out only)
Accessories VGA, DVI cables, framed and clip-on 3D glasses

Stand and ergonomics

LG's stand is the bare minimum — no cable management and tilt adjustment only. It also wobbles worryingly when touched, and the base can only be attached if you have a screwdriver or coin — there's no hands-free method as has been found on every other monitor we've seen.

LG's stand is very basic, and the screen wobbles quite a bit after any adjustment.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)


Power, 3.5mm, VGA, DVI, HDMI.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Buttons and on-screen display (OSD)

LG's buttons aren't labelled. In this case, it's not a bad thing.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

LG's buttons are pleasingly front-mounted, and aren't labelled because they don't need to be. They're context sensitive; that context being shown by the on-screen display (OSD), which is shown whenever a user hits any button. This means adjustments can be made quickly and easily in the dark as well as light. LG hasn't included an up button, though, which means if you accidentally miss a menu item, you'll have to cycle through the whole lot to get back to where you intended to be.

Thanks to its context-sensitive nature, LG's OSD is easy to use.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

By monitor standards LG's options are highly limited, giving brightness, contrast and RGB controls. There's also a "3D Color Effect", which dramatically over-sharpens for PC use, and can thankfully be turned off. There are "warm", "medium" and "cool" colour presets, but as always, we recommend you stick to "user" to get the most out of your display. Lamely, the video input can't be manually set: the monitor autoscans.

The D2542P-PN doesn't support 1:1 pixel mapping; if your resolution isn't the full 1920x1080, you only have the option of full screen or aspect scaling. It's worth noting that the scaling in the LG is awful and very blurry, causing significant degradation of image quality. 1080p all the way here, folks.


Using the LG as a straight monitor is a little off-putting due to obvious horizontal lines in the display. This is the price you pay for 3D — sit back over a metre or so, and it becomes unnoticeable.

For a TN screen, LG really has managed some impressive deep blacks, probably helped in part by the semi-gloss screen.

3D performance
LG's polarised glasses don't have curved lenses, and as such the frame dominates a large amount of your vision and sits a good distance from your face. The glossiness of the lenses also means any light sources behind you will reflect in them — an unwelcome distraction when your ocular focus is already being manipulated.

Good 3D isn't all about the glasses, however — it's a combination of painstaking work with the source material, and the technology used to realise that work. As a result you get a huge variety of quality, from images that have out-of-whack depth, to movies that throw things out of the screen at you and have their separate elements appear as if they're floating on separate 2D planes, to something more subtle and enjoyable like the efforts made in Avatar or Monsters vs. Aliens.

The optimal point for 3D viewing on the LG is around a metre away from the monitor, and it can only afford a small range of movement before things move out of alignment. Even in the sweet spot, ghosting is often present.

3D is achieved in two separate ways on LG's monitor; either via LG's included "TriDef" software, or for external devices, through the monitor's OSD. Mac users are sadly left out in the cold, and LG wastefully splits its software across two CDs instead of a single DVD: software on one, manual and monitor driver on the other.

Its TriDef 3D portal is a media centre-style application, allowing playback of movies and viewing of images. Its bare minimum stuff that simply splits an image into an interleaved version, and isn't the most intuitive interface we've used either — but it works.

The game launcher is a bit more complex. You can scan your hard drive for existing games that match the included profiles, or browse and add your own, so long as it uses DirectX 9 - 11. It also pops up on overlay telling you to use 1920x1080 if you are using another resolution.

Sadly, you can't create your own profiles within the app, you need to tweak within the game itself and the profile is saved automatically. This can lead to a situation where if LG's program causes your game to crash, you have to remove the profile and start all over again, otherwise your game will always crash. You can export your profile, but it's not human readable in any way — the end user is completely denied manual editing.

Once the program has been run, LG launches an overlay in which hotkeys can be used to adjust the stereoscopy depth and how far "in front" images appear. We tested Batman: Arkham Asylum and found that the stereoscopy had to be turned down to the lowest setting to reduce the image visibly splitting apart as the camera moved. Without fail, the 3D would also switch itself off partway through. Any attempt to reinitialise during the game would cause a crash. Game performance was also dramatically impacted, average frame rates at 1920x1080 dropping from 35 frames per second on our test machine to 13 frames per second.

Despite having a specific profile for Metro 2033, the game was incorrectly rendered to the point of only showing white light sources.

Native 3D content from the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 doesn't need any intervention from the user, although the monitor does allow you to flip the left and right fields, or convert 3D imagery back to 2D. The quality of 3D effect varied from game to game. Halo Anniversary's environments generally gained a little extra depth, but characters sadly looked like cardboard cut-outs existing on different planes, and jaggies were more obvious. Gran Turismo 5, however, benefited by the extra depth added; the slight dimming experienced making it feel like sitting in an arcade.

If the content doesn't support 3D you can simulate it through the monitor using line interlaced, top/bottom or left/right modes; though, they don't let you adjust the 3D depth. For LG's kit, you'll mostly stick with line interlaced.

Lagom.nl LCD tests
After calibrating to a target brightness of 140cd/m² with an X-Rite i1Display 2, Eye-One Match 3 and tweaking with HCFR, the D2542P-PN was run through the Lagom.nl LCD tests.

Image tests
Contrast Sharpness Gamma Black level White saturation Gradient
Pass Too sharp Pass Pass Pass Pass

Even with "3D Color Effect" turned off, the LG comes out as being a little too sharp.

Inversion pixel walk tests
Test 1 Test 2a Test 2b Test 3 Test 4a Test 4b Test 5 Test 6a Test 6b Test 7a Test 7b
Pass Flicker Pass Downward scrolling Heavy flicker Light flicker/
Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass

Most monitors fail from one up to four of the pixel walk tests; the LG rides the boundaries of the acceptable limit.

Input lag
Measured against a Samsung SyncMaster 975p CRT, and using a Canon 40D set to a shutter speed of 1/320, an average of over 60 photographs was taken using StoppUhr. With a lag time of 2ms, the LG is perfectly fine for twitch gamers.

Colour accuracy
ΔE is the measurement of how far a measured colour deviates from its expected value, allowing us to determine the colour accuracy of a monitor. While a ΔE value of one is considered perceivable, as long as it's less than three, the shift shouldn't be too obvious. HCFR was used to determine &DeltaE for the monitor, in tandem with an X-Rite i1Display 2.

Measured levels (Standard mode)
Contrast ratio 1138:1
Black level (cd/m²) 0.240
White level (cd/m²) 273.021
Gamma 2.23
Greyscale ΔE
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
88.3 13.1 14.2 14.2 11.8 7.8 5.7 4.7 5.7 2.1 9.7
Colour ΔE
Red Green Blue Yellow Cyan Magenta
18.4 14.0 8.9 8.9 16.4 9.3

The little white dots, our grey reference points, should be on the curved line. Out of the box, this is not the case.
(Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Egads. While we can't do much about the colours being a consumer-grade monitor, let's see if we can at least get those greys into place so our colour gradients look more natural.

Measured levels
Contrast ratio 694:1
Black level (cd/m²) 0.194
White level (cd/m²) 134.593
Gamma 2.20
Greyscale ΔE
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
87.8 20.3 5.6 3.0 2.4 1.6 2.3 1.5 1.2 1.4 1.4
Colour ΔE (compared to sRGB)
Red Green Blue Yellow Cyan Magenta
18.3 15.9 4.7 9.2 14.1 7.9

Better. We shouldn't be losing as much colour detail now.
(Screenshot by CBS Interactive)

Our greys are now mostly in line after 30 per cent, meaning a more accurate colour scale should be displayed. Our colour accuracy still isn't great, though, and contrast ratio takes quite a hit to get here.

HDMI performance
While a monitor might have an HDMI port, there's no guarantee that it'll display images as expected. We hooked up a PlayStation 3 and checked for 24p capability and judder, as well as ran the HQV Blu-ray test to see how well it coped with an interlaced source and noise.

24p capable Understands YUV Mission Impossible III
Scene 11 judder test
Mission Impossible III
Scene 14 judder test
Yes Yes Very slight judder Very slight judder
HQV noise
HQV video
resolution loss
HQV jaggies
HQV film
resolution loss
HQV film
resolution loss — stadium
Total score
out of 100
0 0 0 0 0 0

The LG manages to mostly hide the judder in Mission Impossible III, to the point that you likely won't see it unless you're looking for it. Its HQV score was a total bust, however, with zero noise reduction and poor handling of interlaced content.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles were taken with a Canon 40D in spot-metering mode, with only shutter time adjusted to obtain a good exposure.

Colour inversion on vertical viewing angles, along with the screen losing contrast ratio on the horizontals is a hallmark of TN technology.
(Credit: Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

Light bleed
There isn't even the smallest hint of light bleed. LG's screen has very impressive, very deep blacks.

It's important to note that the effects of light bleed will likely change from monitor to monitor, regardless of make.

Power consumption
We measured power consumption using a Jaycar mains digital power meter. It's important to note here that, due to limitations of the meter, measurements are limited to values of 1W and greater, and are reported in 1W increments.

All measurements, screen brightness and contrast were set to 100 per cent, and a test image displayed.

Juice Box
Maximum power draw 35W
Power-saving mode <1W
Off <1W

Although it uses quite a bit of power in the on state, LG's monitor correctly powers down to save power when not being used. Unlike some competitors, when one input goes to sleep it doesn't switch to the next active one — meaning the LG correctly saves even more power.


The D2542P-PN is covered by LG for one year, not great when viewed through the eyes of competitors like BenQ which offers four. It offers a "perfect pixel policy", though, meaning that if you have any defective pixels, you can have the monitor swapped out within the warranty period.


How you feel about the Cinema 3D will vary depending on how you feel about 3D. We're of the stance that you'll get more value by putting your money into a 2D monitor with significantly better image quality. Certainly as a standard 2D PC monitor, the LG offers distracting horizontal lines and inferior image quality compared to much more affordable competitors from the likes of Dell and BenQ.

Using the D2542P-PN in 3D mode on your PC is also a non-starter, in that you have to sit around a metre away for the 3D effect to be at its best, and the software for games crashes quite often. Gamers looking for 120Hz refresh will have to look elsewhere — LG uses a passive solution rather than active, meaning it achieves 3D by interlacing offset images and effectively halving the resolution, rather than doubling the refresh and inserting offset images in every alternate frame.

If you must have 3D, this monitor is more geared toward movie watching or console playing. LG's passive solution is definitely kinder on the eyes than active shutter solutions. The conversion of non-native images and video to 3D is still a highly inaccurate science, and there's a relative dearth of native 3D content out there. We're quite sure that 3D fans will be more interested in a large screen TV as well, making the value of a 25-inch monitor questionable. But if you need something bedroom sized and absolutely must have 3D, and passive 3D at that, then the LG D2542P-PN is one option to pursue.

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