A Few Days With The PlayStation 3D Display

Sony’s PlayStation 3D Display is a gorgeous piece of sleek, glossy design. Straight out of the box, it looks like a high-end, high cost, premium product that is worth every penny of the £449.99 asking price. It sticks closely to the PlayStation design principles of recent years, although its shiny piano black finish harks back to the original PlayStation 3 more than it mimics the newer, matte black slim models. Actually, it looks most like the screen portion of a super sized PSPGo, its straight lines and bulbous curves framing the screen beautifully.

The 24 inch PlayStation 3D Display certainly makes a good first impression but the real worth of the display (there’s no TV here) is in how well it performs its job. Happily, the picture quality is fantastic, sharp and clear with plenty of contrast. The standard setting is a little over-bright and washed out for my tastes, while the cinema setting provides a predictably dimmer and warmer image. Spend a little time fiddling with the custom settings, though, and you can get a brilliant balance of bright whites, vivid colours and deep blacks.

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Unfortunately, the right speaker on the review set that I received was blown. The popped speaker meant that sound was distorted, no matter the volume but it was still possible to tell that the sound quality is not this display’s strongest suit. The sound quality seemed like it wasn’t ever great, something which surprised me as Sony televisions tend to have better in-set speakers than most. It seemed to be lacking in bass and clarity at the low end but with plenty of range at the top end. Whether it’s fair to be too harsh about a broken speaker on a unit that is only a few months old is a matter for debate but it has been well travelled in that time so perhaps we shouldn’t be too critical if it’s succumbed to some of the knocks along the way.

The 3D performance was predictably good. I’m not an expert and I can’t quote a line of technical specifications but I can tell you that this display gave a sharper, crisper image than any 3D display I’ve ever personally experienced. Admittedly, that experience is limited to display units and friend’s sets but the general perception I had that 3D images were too dark and slightly fuzzy were only dispelled through spending a few days with this display. The PS3 detects it as a 3D capable display as soon as you load up a capable first party game and you can select to play in 3D mode right before most games load.

[drop2]The experience of actually using 3D content is always going to be totally subjective. Some people love the extra depth it allows and some will persist in thinking that it’s an unnecessary gimmick or a hindrance. I’m not here to change anybody’s mind and, in truth, I believe that the reality is some point in between. PS Move puzzler, Tumble, for example, makes great use of the 3D to enhance the gameplay. In Uncharted 3, it makes characters pop from the screen but generally adds nothing and occasionally interferes with an immersive experience by confusing the depth of objects on screen.

The biggest disappointment with the package was the two pairs of glasses that come with it. They feel incredibly cheap and flimsy, like those novelty sunglasses you might find in the newsagents in a seaside town. I’m not sure whether this is an effort to lower costs or simply a side effect of using the lightest materials possible in order to make them more comfortable to wear but either way, I was constantly worried about snapping a leg off. They charge via USB so you can use the PS3 to charge them up but, annoyingly, they don’t use the same mini USB connection that your DualShock 3 controllers have been charging from for years. They use a Micro USB socket, located under a delicate little flap along the top at the front. It might be a minor issue to be frustrated by but it does mean having to keep an extra cable hanging around and potentially swapping things about in and out of the already limited USB sockets provided by the newer PS3s.

The PlayStation 3D Display also works with the Xbox 360, Blu-ray players and anything else with an HDMI or component output. It even worked with my iPad and the HDMI adapter. There are two HDMI slots and one component input and it can display standard stereoscopic 3D as well as side-by-side or top-and-bottom 3D signals via a selector switch on the unit (there was no remote control with the review display).

SimulView is the name Sony gives its separated image technology which allows same-sofa two-player gaming without splitting the screen down the middle. One set of glasses shows one image while the other set of glasses shows another. The list of games it works with is very small but there are likely to be a few more added to that list – at least Sony’s first party output should get decent levels of support. Where it does appear, it works as advertised but I’m not sure it’s worth paying for, given the limited range of titles available.

The biggest obstacle to recommending this display, and the one thing that’s preventing me from buying one myself, is the price. It’s far too expensive to be a suitable bedroom set and it’s far too small to act as an adequate living room replacement. There are plenty of other, larger displays with more features out there for similar prices, although you might have to buy an extra set of glasses to match the two that are bundled with this display.

In short, it looks great, sounds acceptable and costs far too much. The build quality of the set is debatable, given that the review unit was already broken, but for the glasses there’s no question – they’re cheaply constructed from poor quality materials with a flimsy feel and an inconsiderate USB charging port. If this set was £100 cheaper, it would be much easier to recommend but as it is, there are better alternatives – some of them even made by Sony themselves.

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20 Comments

  1. That’s the problem I find with most Sony kit.. Very nice designs, but expensive for the hardware quality & spec. Just look at their soundbar.
    I had to read the first bit of this article a couple of times though as I could have sworn you wrote ‘patio black’ rather than ‘piano black’… Obviously I’m still in Monday mode. Must sleep.

  2. I just can’t see these selling well at 450 smackers. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a price drop quite soon.

    Great review though. Shame about the speaker!

  3. In my opinion it’s way too small.

  4. i’ll give you 100 quid for the lot?

  5. 24″?!! Reverse those numbers and I might be more interested!

  6. Not a chance at £450 when our friends in the USA pay $299!! :(

    • it’s $499 in the US. This is RRP too, I expect retailers will squeeze that down as much as possible. If they bother selling it at all – the PlayStation soundbar wasn’t exactly well stocked when it eventually came out.

    • I think that’s just retailers marking it down because it’s been out a while in the US.
      Hopefully the same will happen here, and this poor student will be able to snap up a 3DTV!

      Also, the US one only comes with 1 pair of glasses. From the article here, it seems we get 2? (Or was that only for the reviewers CB?)

      • In fact, just checked Amazon’s listing, we get 2 pairs of glasses, the US get 1.
        But even though the glasses are ridiculously expensive, it doesn’t come close to explaining the difference between the US and EU price.
        What might though, is what I said above (retailers marking it down after a while) and the fact that American prices aren’t the actual prices. They display prices without tax applied, but they don’t sell them tax free.

      • And don’t forget they add VAT after. So it isn’t the marked price you see. Hate that bloody system.

  7. Sums up all of Sony products at the moment. Interesting read thanks.

  8. Far too expensive for just a 24″, Tesco do a 42″ 3D TV for 50 quid less than the Sony one! And the poor build quality you mention just makes it hard to justify that price.

  9. Interesting there’s no tv tuner – goodbye tv licence (if you don’t bother watching it that is)

    But overall, interesting product but nuts price and is there really a market for it? Spose sales will tell

  10. Too small and too expensive. I got an 46in 3D Internet TV for just over £50 more.

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