By now you should be well aware that a 3D computer monitor or a 3D television set that uses a glossy, instead of a matted screen, is prone to some possible issues that can make the user experience not so good. Of course that is going to happen if you do not know and/or follow the recommendations for use of a 3D-capable screen, one of which is to use the display in a dark room with no external lights. But what happens if we don’t follow the recommendations and try to use a 3D-capable display during the day with bright light coming through the windows from the sun outside? I did exactly that with a Panasonic Viera VT20E 3D HDTV with the light from the sun coming from the left side of the TV and falling on just a part of the right side of the screen. You can see how the Panasonic looks like in that situation when it is turned off on the photo above, but on it besides the light you can also see some reflections of the surrounding objects in the room. In the lower left and right corners the reflections are stronger, because the objects there are pretty much right next to the TV and the rest of the reflections are much less distracting…
After turning on the TV and watching a movie with a lot of dark scenes the situation is not much better than when the television set is off. Of course the light falling on the screen is still quite visible on dark background and the reflections are more or less quite easily noticeable, again because of the darker background.
Going for a game with brighter environment like in the case of Civilization 5 changes the results quite seriously as not the light falling on the right part of the screen is barely visible and only the reflections of the close objects in the lower left and right corners of the screen are somewhat visible. This was of course expected, as the having dark background or image on the screen and external light leads to having stronger reflections.
But what happens when you turn on the 3D mode and put on the active shutter glasses while trying to watch some stereoscopic 3D content on the screen in far from optimum conditions for best experience? Actually the results was quite surprising and I could barely see anything left form the light falling on the screen as well as the reflections on the screen, even at the lower corners you have to pay extra attention just to notice a bit of the reflections left. So the amount of light that gets blocked by the shutter glasses in 3D mode actually does help you get better results even when not watching in a room with optimum conditions.
Of course in the case of Panasonic, there is another issue that is related to the glasses and not the display itself and that problem is related to the design of the active shutter glasses that the company settled for. I’m talking about the first generation of glasses without a rechargeable battery (TY-EW3D10) and the fact that their frames are quire wide and on both the left and right side there is a wide opening that freely lets a lot of external light. And in the case with a bright light coming from the sun from either of the two sides you can expect to see flicker and that is quite annoying for the user, and although in the last case while watching in 3D mode there were no issues on the screen, I could easily see flicker around the screen due to the strong external light. In the newer TY-EW3D2 series that also come with a rechargeable battery Panasonic apparently has fixed that issue, and also has worked to improve the nose-piece that is not so comfortable for longer use for quite a lot of people. I still haven’t been able to try the new glasses, so I can’t say if they are indeed better, but from the photos I’ve seen they should be. Still Sony’s active shutter glasses are probably the best ones in terms of functionality and design I’ve tried so far and other brands should also work a bit more not only on the TV itself, but on the glasses that you will need to wear for as long as you want to watch something in 3D mode.
But let me get back to the findings of this short test I did with the Panasonic 3D HDTV and using it in non optimum conditions. It is always best to follow the recommendations and use the TV in a dark room with no external light for the best possible experience and that goes not only for the 3D mode, but also for the 2D. If you can’t always have the best conditions however, then you should try to avoid the possibility of direct sunlight falling on the screen, with artificial lights the situation is much better. You should not place any objects very close in front of the TV as their reflections can be quite strong and annoying, because with the increasing distance the strength of the reflections diminishes. For when using the active shutter glasses and in 3D mode you should not have any external light source in order to avoid the possibility of having flicker. These recommendations also apply 3D LCD screens with a glossy surface that are used on some laptops and LCD monitors, although the glossy surface used on the Panasonic is much better than on these. Another difference between a big 3D TV and a smaller 3D LCD monitor is that with a smaller screen you have things closer to it, including yourself as you cannot watch it from afar due to its size (especially on laptops) and that alone leads to having stronger reflections on the screen. So once again, don’t forget about the recommendations about the optimum conditions and the dark room not only when in stereo 3D mode, but also for better experience when using 2D mode too… ;)