The 23-inch Planar SA2311W 3D Vision-ready LCD monitor is one of the newer 3D display solutions designed to work with Nvidia’s 3D Vision technology that just became available on the market and I already had the chance to get one of the first units available in Europe to test. When Planar, a company that is specialized in high-end professional stereoscopic 3D displays announced that monitor I was quite eager to test it and I was already set with high expectations for the performance it should offer. Have in mind that the SA2311W monitor is Planar’s first consumer oriented 3D product, designed for use by both professionals for work as well as by gamers. As usual the review is focused mostly on the stereo 3D performance of the monitor, although I will cover some general aspects as well that might be interesting for gamers that prefer to play with 120Hz refresh rate in “plain 3D” instead with 60Hz per eye in stereo 3D mode.
Planar SA2311W is a 23-inch 3D-capable Full HD monitor with a height adjustable stand that makes it more flexible to different work places. The display comes with Dual-Link DVI, HDMI (1.3) and VGA ports, but for stereoscopic 3D use you can only rely on the DL DVI interface. Below you can find the full officially available specifications of the monitor…
Planar SA2311W Specifications:
Panel Size: 23″ (58.4cm) Wide Screen 16:9, TN
Native Resolution: 1920×1080 pixels
Pixel Pitch: 0.2655 mm
Brightness(Max): 300 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio (Max.): ?
Viewing Angles (CR≧10): ?
Response Time: 2 ms (GtG)
Video Inputs: Dual-link DVI-D, HDMI, VGA
Power Consumption: ?
Monitor stand: tilt +20°~-5°, swivel and height adjustment
Dimension (WxHxD): 21.5″ x 14.8″ x 8.3″ (546.33 x 377 x 210.5 mm)
Weight: 7 kg
Here are the two menus you have available for control of the monitor in 2D mode through the DVI interface. Notice that the monitor has an ECO mode that can reduce the brightness level and also save energy, the default brightness and contrast settings for 2D mode are a bit high anyway, so activating the ECO mode makes the image more easier on the eyes. Another useful feature is the option to enable and disable the OverDrive (OD) function and also the ability to control the sharpness, the display does not have problems with over-sharpening with OD active, but you generally don’t need the overdrive mode active in 2D mode anyway. In stereo 3D mode of course the OverDrive function is active by default as you need the faster response it gets you and thus you get reduced crosstalk/ghosting, and we’ll see the level you can expect from this new monitor in a bit. When in stereo 3D mode most of these controls are being disabled and you are pretty much left with controlling the contrast (the actual level of brightness) of the display with the default setting being at 80.
Here is how the service menu of the Planar monitor looks like in 2D and in stereo 3D mode with its default settings as a reference should you mess them up in some way without having recorder their default settings. If you’ve read the Acer GD245HQ/GD235HZ monitor review from last year, you’ll see that the service menu is very similar to that of the Acer, and you can get into it the same way too. But there is no need for you to mess with the service menu of the monitor, except for seeing the hours the monitor has been used as a reference. What is interesting as information that I’ve learned from the service menu however is that the Planar monitor is using the following LCD panel SEC LTM230HU01, apparently Samsung Electronics has a new 23-inch 3D-capable LCD panel that they are not yet using in their own products. And here comes the question how good is the new panel as compared to their previous 22-inch one?
Accessing the Service Menu on Planar SA2311W LCD Monitor
– Turn off the monitor by pressing the Power button
– Press and hold the Menu button and then push the Power button to turn on the monitor
– When you see the image on screen you can release the Menu button and press it again to call up the Service Menu
– When you finish with the service menu you can turn the monitor off and then on again to be back in the normal mode
The gamers that prefer to play in “plain 3D” and not in stereo 3D might not be very happy due to the fact that the Planar SA2311W monitor exhibits some input lag, the values measured vary from 0 to 24 ms with an average of about 10 ms, something which is quite good considering that most of the 3D-capable 120Hz monitors do have some input lag. Next comes the question about backlight bleeding, the Planar unit I reviewed has quite even backlight with a slightly brighter areas at the top center corner and the lower end a bit on the left, but nothing that is seriously disturbing. So you can consider the new Samsung panel to be quite good, but not quite there yet in all areas, especially considering the fact that their early model had no input lag at all, but it also was not with a perfect backlight distribution. But Anyway, these are not serious issues, so we can move on to the color accuracy next and after that to test the performance you get in stereo 3D mode and the part I’m sure you are most eager to find out about – the level of crosstalk you can expect.
The default settings of the monitor show colors that are a bit of from their optimum, however the gamma and color temperature is with much less deviation. And the maximum brightness measured was 259 cd/m2 with the monitor not being pushed to maximum brightness which means that it can push up to 300 cd/m2 as an absolute maximum. The contrast level is 952:1 which is very close to 1000:1 that this panel from Samsung should be rated at |(non dynamic contrast) and the black point measured was a bit high, due to the higher brightness, measured at about 0.28 cd/m2. Visually, aside from the higher brightness, the display looks quite good even in its factory settings, but let us see how things change after calibrating it.
Have in mind that the calibration results above were achieved with a setting that is trying to preserve the maximum possible brightness level of the display, so if you are going for a lower and more comfortable brightness level for work in 2D mode then you might be able to get even better results. Even though with an average difference of just 0.6 and a maximum one of 1.4 (partly due to the higher brightness), the color deviation is quite low, making the display rate as a very good one after being calibrated even for work with colors. But this is related only to working in 2D mode and doing tasks where color reproduction matters, as when gaming in plain 3D or stereo 3D mode the color reproduction is the least of the things to worry about.
I’m starting with one of my more recent tests using special photos for finding the level of crosstalk by going to black and white, the test photos are available here, so if you wish you can compare your monitor as well. As you can see quite good performance as compared to other monitors, but there is still some crosstalk present, not that I expected it to magically disappear, as this is something that is still a technological issue. And even though things develop and the level of crosstalk gets lower on a newer LCD monitors, we a re still a bit far from getting completely rid of it. This however is a specially developed test to show the issue and actually does not represent the real usage scenarios, as there the situations are usually not as extreme as with the test photos. In this test I’ve noticed something strange and that is the slight gradation in the white as you can see on the left part of the image, so I went and investigated further in this…
Unlike in the tests above, where I shot the test photos only through one of the lenses of the glasses, on this test photo I’m not using the shutter glasses, but instead I shot directly the monitor showing a 3D image. So do not use the photo above to judge for level of ghosting as it is not intended for that, but it is to investigate the strange gradation of white I’ve noticed in the the above test photos. This photo uses black on white for the two eyes as this makes the strange color gradation of the white to be most apparent and it turns out that this issue is somewhat related to the OverDrive function as well as the current level of brightness (the contrast setting) of the monitor. If I disable the OverDrive through the system menu the problem with the gradation of the white disappears, but in turn I get a lot of crosstalk which is to be expected. If I push the contrast setting (the brightness) of the display to the maximum value of 100 again the problem disappears and the white is even again, but then I get more ghosting and more specifically color ghosting. The best choice I’ve found to minimize the issue was to lower the contrast setting a bit to about 50-60 which almost gets rid of the white gradation and lowers a b it more the crosstalk as well, but the image on the screen also gets slightly darker in stereo 3D mode. I should note that this white color gradation issue is only noticeable in some specific extreme scenarios that normally would not appear in real world use, so you should not be worried about experiencing it normally. Meanwhile I’ll see if it can be resolved in another way by also talking with Planar about it, so stay tuned for more information. And now lets wee how things look like in real world usage of the monitor for stereoscopic 3D entertainment…
Now, moving to one of my favorite tests – the sailboats stereoscopic 3D test video, finally a real world crosstalk test to show you that the specific issue described above does not create problems with normal use for stereo 3D content. Planar SA2311W is actually the first 3D-capable LCD monitor that I’ve tested and that does not show any, and I really mean any ghosting in this video, the previous monitor from Asus I’ve tested was almost there, but there was still some slight ghosting. So in this test the Planar SA2311W performs as good as a good 3D HDTV like the Panasonic VT20E for example that also does not show any ghosting in this test video. But lets see how things move on with some more real world applications like game sin stereo 3D mode.
Moving to Tomb Raider: Underworld and one of my favorite scenes in the game that I use for checking the 3D monitors of the level of top and bottom ghosting due to the contrasting scenes that are more prone to having crosstalk/ghosting. Starting with the top ghosting, again surprisingly good results with a very faint afterimage leaking at the top of the screen and again making the Planar the best performing in this test monitor that I’ve tested so far.
Moving to the bottom screen crosstalk/ghosting test, again by using the game Tomb Raider: Underworld, this time looking for color ghosting… another issue that is caused by the OverDrive function that leads to pixels not appearing as faint dark shadows in terms of crosstalk, but as much more apparent brightly colored afterimage. Again very good results, probably the best so far as although there is some color ghosting it is quite faint again and much better than the previous results I’ve got. Of course pushing the value of the contrast setting in 3D mode to the maximum can make the top and bottom ghosting more apparent, the default factory setting of 80 does produce really good results.
As I’ve mentioned above already, by lowering the level of contrast (the brightness of the display) from the default factory setting of 80 to something in between 50 and 60 you can get even slightly less crosstalk with the image getting a bit darker, so you have an option to get even better results. But as I’ve mentioned, even at the default settings the Planar SA2311W performs very good with the smallest levels of crosstalk I’ve seen so far through all the 3D Vision-ready LCD monitors I’ve tested. It has become somewhat of a tradition that every new model of a 3D-capable LCD monitor I test here is performing better than the previous and has less crosstalk than the previous one and Planar SA2311W is no exception. With that said I think it is about time that I replace my old and trustworthy Samsing 2233RZ monitor with the one from Planar which also uses an LCD panel made by Samsung Electronics.