While visiting Zalman at a few trade shows, I was introduced to their new stereoscopic 3d monitor: the Zalman Trimon 22-inch monitor. nVidia has been showing off their own solutions that use any regular monitor, so what makes this monitor different, and why would you want to buy one?
I spoke with Richard Chung of Zalman, who gave me the lowdown on thi explained to me the differences between the Zalman monitor and nVidia’s 3d solution. For one, this 22-inch 3D LCD monitor is optmized for gaming purposes, supporting 3D and 2D realizations.
The monitor works with nVidia’s standard stereoscopic driver, which otherwise would only work with nVidia’s shuttered glasses. Richard mentioned that ATI cards are not officially supported, but that you can pay ATI extra money for the technology, but did not elaborate.
Traditional 3D imaging requires the glasses to do the work, but Zalman’s monitors do this work instead by separating the left and right eye images, preparing the images right on the monitor. All that is needed to experience the 3d effect is for the observer to wear a passive polarized filter over their eyes.
Richard explained that nVidia’s solution uses shutter technology, which can cause headaches and eye fatigue with prolonged usage. Using the provided polarized eyeglasses, the 3d effect was immediate and was not a strain. There are no moving parts on the glasses or monitor. Robert mention that some people experience motion sickness with prolonged use, but headaches were reduced over 3d glasses that use mechanical shutters.
The monitor has a max resolution of 1680×1050, which is rather standard for that size. The monitor also has a good 1000:1 contrast ratio and fast 5ms response rate. It is unclear if this is a grey-to-grey response rate or black to white response rate. The monitors also have integrated 2W stereo speakers, but I doubt that many gamers would use them. The monitor takes DVI or VGA input.
I wondered why Zalman didn’t offer any 3d monitors that were larger than 22-inches. Twenty-two inches might not seem like a lot, but according to many professional gamers that is really too large. Once a monitor starts to get too big, then you have to move your eyes or use peripheral vision to see everything on the screen. One advantage of a smaller monitor is that you can see everything on the screen at once.
These 22” gaming monitors can be had for $270, which is about the middle of what the average 22″ LCD monitor costs these days.
The 3d stereoscopic feature of 3d games is only supported in the 32-bit version of Windows 7 or Vista, so 64-bit users like myself are out of luck. This is the exact reason why I have a dedicated gaming machine: Vista 32-bit with 4GB of RAM.
The 3d effect is rather spectacular, and really must be seen to be believed. These monitors can be had for around $250, which is competitive with “normal” 22-inch monitors. Doing a price comparison of similar features, this monitor is about the same price as “non-3d” monitors. At this price, why wouldn’t you go ahead and get the 3D features for free?
Text needs to be displayed in 2d to be readable, so any game with a HUD can mess up the 3d effect (it looke like the HUD is floating).
The 3d effects are good, assuming you have the horsepower to run it. If your PC strains to get a decent framerate in 2d, then don’t even think about that game in 3d stereo. The downside to this monitor is that games have to play in full resolution (1680×1050) and there can be a bit of ghosting at times. I have also heard that certain titles don’t play nice with the nVidia stereoscopic drivers, too. The monitor is highly reflective, so you’ll want to sources of glares like windows, lamps, other monitors, etc.
The monitor is very affordable and has a decent resolution for its size. While it is a reasonable 2d monitor, the added boon of 3d (using nVidia stereo drivers) is a nice bonus.
On the next page is the list of features, specifications, and currently working games.