It is time for another 3D monitor review, this time of the 23-inch Philips 236G3DHSB passive 3D monitor that promises nice 3D features, good performance at an attractive price point. This Philips monitor uses passive 3D technology (FPR 3D) on top of an TN LCD panel withe matte screen not a glossy one, it features two HDMI 1.4 interfaces with support for frame packaged content as well as Side by Side and Over/Under and there is also a built-in 2D to 3D conversion functionality. It seems to deliver what pretty much all other passive 3D monitors offer you, but the real question is what you can expect from the monitor in terms of performance and especially how good it handles stereo 3D content…
Philips 236G3DHSB Specifications:
Panel Size: 23-inches (58.4cm)
Monitor Type: TN TFT-LCD with LED Backlight
3D Technology: FPR 3D Technology
Pixel Pitch: 0.265×0.265mm
Brightness: 250 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio (typ.): 1000:1
Response Time (typ.): 5ms
SmartResponse Time (typ.): 2ms
Viewing Angles: 170° (H) / 160° (V) @ C/R > 10
3D Viewing Angle: 80° (H) / 12° (V) @ 3D CT < 10
Input: 2x HDMI 1.4, 1x VGA
Power Consumption: On Mode 28.39W (typ.); Sleep (Standby) 0.5W; Off 0.3W
Phys. Dimension with Stand (WxHxD): 566x426x219 mm
Weight with stand: 3.26kg
What kind of surprised me here in a good way is that Philips, unlike most other manufacturers of FPR 3D displays lists the specifications for both 2D and 3D mode of the monitor. They list 12 degrees of vertical viewing angle (6 up and 6 down from the center) for when in 3D mode, something that most others kind of miss to mention in their specifications, and not everyone knows about the very narrow vertical viewing angle that is actually common for the passive 3D technology. And this technology limitation is more of a problem for the passive 3D monitors, because you watch them from closer distance, than for 3D HDTVs where you have larger screen that you watch from a distance. The other common drawback for passive 3D technology is the half vertical resolution you get when in stereoscopic 3D mode, though the technology also has its advantages over active 3D solutions as well. These are things like more affordable glasses, no flickering etc.
With the monitor you get two pairs of passive 3D glasses, one is traditional with full frame (the lenses are solid plastic, not from foil) and the other one is a clip on to use over prescription glasses. So not the cheapest possible solution for the 3D glasses, and the lenses and the frame are comfortably big as I’ve seen other manufacturers presenting a bit smaller and not so comfortable glasses. The good thing with passive 3D technology is that you can easily find a lot of alternatives for 3D glasses that will be compatible, from more affordable traditional solutions to specially made designer glasses, they just need to be compatible with the RealD technology that is also used in many 3D movie theaters.
As already mentioned, this monitor has two HDMI 1.4 inputs and supports Frame Packaged 3D input, but you should be aware that using this is not always the best choice, especially if you plan on using the 3D monitor for gaming. HDMI 1.4 frame packaging is limited to 720p 50/60Hz 3D (good for gaming) ор 1080p 24Hz 3D (good for movies), and while you also get support for Side by Side (both L-R and R-L) and Top/Bottom and Bottom-Top modes that you can manually activate from the monitor menu, these do come with additional reduction in resolution resulting in not so good quality on top of the already halved vertical resolution that you get with FPR 3D. One of the best things of the passive 3D monitors however is that regardless of what interface you are using you can directly feed them with Row Interleaved 3D data and have it displayed in stereo 3D, and this is the best choice for gaming as it helps in minimizing the input lag and gives you the best possible resolution and refresh rate you can get out of the monitor – 1080p at 60Hz in stereo 3D mode with half vertical resolution. The monitor comes with the TriDef 3D software as a solution for playing games in stereo 3D mode, though if a game (of application) has native stereoscopic 3D support and works with Row Interleaved output you can directly use that without the need of intermediate software.
Time to check the color performance of the Philips 236G3DHSB passive 3D monitor as well as to see how the measured default brightness and contrast levels measure up to the specifications announced by Philips. As expected from a TN LCD panel the color reproduction out of the box is nothing special, but it is still Ok for a TN panel, though we’ve seen models that perform worse. The maximum brightness level measured with the factory settings was 262 cd/m2 which is a bit over the officially announced 250, the black level is 0.24 cd/m2 bringing the contrast up to 1103:1, again over the 1000:1 typical from the specs.
With a color calibration performed trying to retain the maximum possible brightness level with best color reproduction quality we actually can achieve surprisingly good results. With maximum brightness level of 222 cd/m2 the display is able to provide really good color reproduction as with average of 0.5 Delta E it is really comparable to good higher-end panels in that aspect. The black level remains at 0.24 cd/m2, so the contrast has to suffer a slight reduction, but it still remains quite high at 920:1. So up until now we are seeing very good performance results, but lets us see how things will be in stereoscopic 3D mode.
Starting with the extreme black and white crosstalk test photos to see how things look in close to worst case scenarios, though you’ll hardly get in similar extreme conditions when using the display normally in stereo 3D mode. The situation with the white is really good, the black is also quite good and these are extreme case scenarios with really high contrasting objects on completely white or black. Here the results are very similar to what you can get from pretty much any more recent passive 3D monitor.
The sailboats 3D video test shows great results, no visible crosstalk at all. Most 3D monitors show a bit at this test, so not having any here means very good performance. Most 3D monitors show a just bit if they are performing well, while 3D HDTVs usually don’t have crosstalk at all in this test.
And finally some real-world tests using the game Tomb Raider Underworld in stereoscopic 3D mode, a good example to show that the Philips 236G3DHSB does indeed have just a little bit of crosstalk and performs very well in stereoscopic 3D mode. The monitor has a Smart Response mode available in the OSD menu that is intended to control the overdrive functionality of the monitor (to make the pixel response time faster, from 5ms to 2ms), but there is not that much of a difference visual in terms of actual responsiveness of the display, it does not visually influence the level of ghosting/crosstalk either. This feature probably could be beneficial for a 120Hz refresh rate monitor, but for a 60Hz model like this one it does not make a visual difference.
The conclusion about the Philips 236G3DHSB passive 3D monitor is that it offers all the features that you’d expect to get from an FPS 3D monitor, provides very good performance in stereoscopic 3D mode and comes at a decent price (you can find it for about 200 Euro in Europe or even a little less). It might not be the best passive 3D monitor out there, but it certainly shows good potential to be among the ones that provide really good results. Of course there are passive 3D displays with IPS LCD panels available, but that does not help much in stereo 3D mode and can be considered as an extra only for when using the monitor in 2D mode. So if you are looking for a 23-inch passive 3D monitor and are on tighter budget, you might want to check the Philips 236G (236G3DHSB) out as an option if it is available on your local market, as it seems that this particular model is not available everywhere.