E3 2011: Sony Announces Affordable 3D Display, But is It Good Enough to Buy?

on June 7, 2011 7:00 AM

At yesterday’s Sony press conference, Jack Tretton announced the production of a PlayStation branded 3D display, specifically designed for the 3D gaming experience. At 24 inches, a somewhat affordable price of $499, and with the revolutionary ability to play 2-player multiplayer on one screen without split-screen, it’s most certainly the display on the market that won’t absolutely ravage your wallet, but it is actually worth the money? 

Immediately after the Sony conference ended, a couple of us were able to take a look at the displays and see how well they worked. The technology behind the non-split-screen multiplayer was definitely in full force here, as that was basically the main selling point behind the monitors. If you want a quick explanation, basically the monitors run at a refresh rate of 240Hz, and every other “line” of resolution is set to a second image. The shutter glasses can actively recognize that and sync so that you’ll see only those lines, and theoretically create a crystal clear image of the “hidden” image in 120Hz.

Unfortunately, the marketing wasn’t exactly as accurate as we were lead to believe. Yes, it is definitely true that two players will be able to play multiplayer games on one screen without split-screen, as long as you have two 3D glasses, which are still a hefty $69 each. Yes, the monitors have a refresh rate of 240Hz, which means each “screen” will have a standard refresh rate of 120Hz.

However, there’s a couple things here that don’t quite rub me the right way. For one, even though each player is shown the game in 120Hz, the 3D capability will be completely absent from both players. Meaning, if you want to play multiplayer with your buddy on this display, you’ll be putting on your 3D glasses to experience multiplayer in 2D. If that isn’t a head-exploding example of irony, I don’t know what is.

Secondly, the tech doesn’t work all that well. When the display was viewed without the glasses, it was quite obvious that there was two images practically embedded on each other. That’s fine, since the two player displays are indeed woven into each other, so to speak. The main problem is that fellow awesome chap Danl Haas still saw some ghosting in his 3D glasses of the other player’s movements, which would be insanely problematic for competitive multiplayer games played through this display.

Lastly, and most importantly, this tech isn’t just limited to the Sony PlayStation display. The innovative technology isn’t tied to the monitor; rather, as suspected, it’s tied to the developers who actually create the games. Meaning, if Need for Speed: The Run isn’t developed with the non-split-screen multiplayer in mind, there’s really no point in this product whatsoever. Theoretically, any other 3D-enabled television with a 240Hz refresh rate would suffice, as long as the developers create a game that would support it.

And basically, that’s the main drawback of this new PlayStation branded display. The main selling point was the price, and yeah, I suppose a 3D display for $500, along with glasses and a free videogame is a pretty damned good deal. The real problem lies with whether or not third-party developers are going to create games that fully implement the use of the multiplayer technology. Considering the lack of interest in 3D at the conference, and the lack of the appeal to the public in general, I seriously doubt third-party developers are going to invest in what is still a niche market for gamers and tech-heads. That’s not even taking into account the technical faults and potential flaws that we experienced in our demos either.

Either way, I have to give props to Sony for actually implementing this technology. I’d heard of the potential just a year or so ago, and I wondered when something like this would actually happen, and now that it finally has, I’m unfortunately more disappointed than I expected.

Still, graphics and pretty flashing colors aren’t everything, so we’ll see what they have for us when it comes to actual gameplay.

 /  Staff Writer (Weekends)
Allen is an utter whore of a gamer; he's completely open-minded to all games, be they AAA blockbusters or $5 casual children's games. His focus is on indie games specifically, valuing gameplay and ingenuity over sparkly visuals and ridiculous gimmicks. When he's not geeking out over the newest art game, he's out toning his sexy, sculpted shoulders while surfing epic 1.5ft waves, or having a good time with local, high-gravity microbrews.