Perhaps my biggest gripe with the display is the highly reflective glass cover that really dampens the gaming and viewing experience. The glare is just awful. It's so bad that when I pause a game, I can use the display as a mirror.
Setting up the display isn't overly complicated, but you may find yourself going through a bit of trial and error when attempting to get the SimulView working correctly. A flashing red light indicates which player each set of glasses is assigned to; you may have to hold down or quickly press the power button on the glasses until you get it squared away correctly.
In my testing with the glasses, I did find that after an initial sync they remembered their player assignments.
A full charge for each pair of glasses netted me dozens of hours of play time, though it's wise to make sure each pair is set to off when not in use.
3D and SimulView performance
A healthy selection of PS3 games now support 3D, and the PS 3D Display handles them quite well. Of course each game has a different 3D effect, so the illusion was more noticeable on Gran Turismo 5 than it was playing Uncharted 3.
The usual image darkening that happens during 3D is here as well, but the bright picture quality helps balance it out.
The display's biggest bragging point has got to be SimulView, and when switched on it does make for some exciting two-player moments. But because the effect is so delicate, and the glare so prevalent, I found that I practically needed to be shoulder to shoulder with my opponent, which just makes for an awkward gaming experience. Sitting farther away helps widen the viewing angle, but then the screen's small size becomes a factor. Long story short, there's really no ideal distance or position to play in.
It's a shame, though, because there's a lot of potential here. How many times have you called a friend out for spying on play calls or using the split screen to his or her advantage in something like a first-person-shooter? SimulView has the ability to eliminate all of these gaming hurdles, but the way it's presented in the PS 3D display isn't compelling in a practical sense.
That said, SimulView doesn't need to live and die by this product. It may be a bit finicky, but the technology is there and it works. If Sony can implement it on a bigger screen with less glare, there's some seriously cool applications in its future.
Using a nongaming source
I'm no picture quality reviewer by any stretch, especially when it comes to a source other than a video game. For that, I called in CNET's newest TV editor, Ty Pendlebury. Here's what he thought of the unit's nongaming prowess:
This is a gaming monitor obviously, but because it's designed to be mated with the "it only does everything" PlayStation motto, it makes sense to have talents that extend beyond Uncharted 3. Luckily enough, it does: hiding behind the PSP-like molding is a fully-fledged Sony TV with all of the picture-processing goodness you'd expect.
In terms of presentation, this is a Sony TV with excellent processing of all sources, which makes it great for watching movies or cable TV. The TV is excellent at processing the natural frame rate of Blu-rays (24Hz), so HD movies look ultrasmooth. The screen itself is able to produce a high-quality picture, with excellent shadow detail and high contrast that make movies "pop." "Custom" mode is best for watching movies, and while the colors appear a little red, this can easily be fixed with a quick adjustment of the color control.
If you're not sitting dead-on with the TV, the off-axis response is decent in a dark room, but lit rooms are the killer here. If you sit too far off-axis you'll only be seeing reflections.
The "TV" is fine if you're only hooking up a PS3, but if you're trying to hook up more devices you may have HDMI handshake problems. The display hated our distribution amplifier and easily lost signal with scene changes that resulted in unusable flashing pictures. It's only the second device to do this in recent memory, which suggests some odd HDMI standard is being used here. This may be an issue if you are connecting a non-PS3 device or a receiver.
Sound quality is average for a small TV, with very little punch to explosions or twinkle when glass breaks. Dialogue sounded a little muffled as well.
While it does have the impressive ability of simultaneously sending two video sources at once, overall the Sony PlayStation 3D display is an expensive and small device that really doesn't fit in any practical environment. I mentioned earlier that it would suffice in a dorm room, but for $500 or so, two roommates could each purchase their own larger HDTVs and not need to sit shoulder to shoulder while gaming.
If the price came down, the size increased, and the glare removed, I could perhaps confidently recommend the unit to someone because that would eliminate a few of my issues with the display. But as it stands in its current form, it's tough to find a situation that's ideal for it.
CNET editor Ty Pendlebury contributed to this review.