Big 3D monitor and projection (>25″)

Posted on 29 May 2012

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For viewing with bigger groups of clients or on other occasions, I needed a 16:9 screen with a diameter of about 3 meter (120″). A summary of my quick research into several options.

LED or Plasma displays

First off, there is the choice between LED and plasma technology. Plasma can’t use the polarization system as it would cripple the 2D experience, so plasma is limited to active shutter technology.  So risks of empty batteries, bad sync, expensive glasses ect. ect. Even though plasma might be the best choice quality-wise (better blacks, faster response times, full HD 3D) it will not be my choice because of the unpractical glasses system.

LED screens are LCD screens but with a LED backlight. But what does SG/FPR mean? The LCD technology allows for the choice between four systems:

  1. AS: active shutter. This is full HD 3D, but see the possible problems above. The current sync system (bluetooth) is really good, so the crosstalk problems are a thing of the past. Still, I don’t like batteries and expensive glasses;
  2. PR: patterned retarder. A glass retarder in front of the screen, to (circular) polarize the light that comes from the screen. This will halve the resolution (in almost all screens: it will give you 2x 1920×540 pixels). The big advantage is that you can use cheap passive glasses.
  3. FPR: film-type patterned retarder. Same as PR, but as it is a film instead of glass, this is much cheaper to produce. Yes, VDE certified LG’s Cinema 3D to be full HD 3d, but really: it is not.
  4. PS: Active polarizer film on the screen, let’s call this Passive Shutter for now. This is placing a real-D like alternating polarizing sheet on the display, so you can watch full HD 3d with normal passive glasses. In may 2011 already, Samsung claimed that they would incorporate this in their screens, but it still isn’t there yet.
  5. GF: glasses free. 42″ Philips wowvx or the $ 17000 65″ Zero-creative screen.

So for now, it will be passive FPR or PR screens for me.

Big, bigger, biggest!

I’ve found 82″ LED TV’s, but not bigger. I’ve seen a bigger one once, but this really is not portable so I think it is good to be limited to 82″. Samsung and NEC both have 82″ 3D displays, but you will have pay about $ 50.000 for them. The cheapest I found is the Sharp LC80LE844U 80-inch 3D LED TV for $ 5000. This is a matte screen (no reflections) with a 176 degrees viewing angle, but also this is shutter glasses technology.

Then there are a few 59″ and 60″ displays. The big challenge is to find out if it is passive or active technology. Most compare websites do not have a  ‘passive/active 3D’ filtering option, and if they do, they have it wrong quite a few times (the only good one I found is kieskeurig.nl). So you will have to go the brand websites or reviews, but also they are not clear all the time.

So this is a bit of a search really. A few of them are plasma, most of them are SG LED: these all need active glasses. Others are LED with passive glasses. You will have to look at it by brand, and you’ll find that all have the screen diagonal and the P (plasma) and L (led) in their model number:

  • Sharp: all active.
  • Samsung, even though they are working with RealD on a “passive-shutter” system, the have a dedicated site telling you that active is much better then passive. At least their site is entertaining, the only really interesting claim is the viewing angle (178 vs 20 degrees). They only have active glasses TV’s at the moment.
  • Panasonic has a TX-P line, which means it is Plasma technology and thus it is active glasses technology. Their TX-L  are LED displays and use passive glasses, but they also have TX-L IPS-LED displays and it’s not very clear if those are active or passive?
  • LG has it’s cinema 3D system, that even has a full HD 3D certificate (even though this is half the truth). LG claims that cinema 3D has a 180 degree horizontal viewing angle. I found that the vertical viewing angle is indeed pretty narrow! All real-D system passive glasses (but be aware, they have a different kind of passive for their smaller cinema 3D screens!
  • Philips has easy-3D: all passive. They have their nice 21:9 Edge-led screens which could really impress the audience, but I don’t know in which ways you can get the needed 2560 x 1080 px into them. I guess the best will be anamorphic HD material or filebased.

Please be aware of the date of this blog, brands might change direction very quickly. One of those things is the EDGE-LED, followed by the IPS-LED and now OLED technology, and there also is the new ‘One sheet of Glass design’ which only means there is no visible bezel anymore. I thought it had something to do with mirroring.

I found that the passive 59+ displays are very rare. Only LG has one, a $ 3600 65″ LG Cinema 3D display. The other options are all active. So here are the passive options for 55″:

  • E 2090 LG 55LM760S (mediamarkt: 2390-300 cashback)
  • E 2000 LG 55LM640S (mediamarkt)
  • E 1529 Panasonic TX-L55ET (tv-store)
  • E 1260 LG 55LM615S (kieskeurig)
  • E 1220 LG 55LW570S (kieskeurig)
  • E 1200 Philips 55PFL7606H (kieskeurig)
  • E 1100 LG 55LW4500 (kieskeurig)

And to be complete, a few smaller options as well:

  • E 1184 Philips 21:9 50″ PFL (kieskeurig, tv store: 300 cashback)
  • E 1099 Panasonic TX-L47ETSE (wehkamp)
  • E 929 Philips 46PFL (wehkamp)
  • E 580 – E 760 LG 47LW (kieskeurig)

I found that the few extra inches will double the price, that the big (60″) plasma displays are cheaper then some of the 55″ LED displays. I like the Philips 50″ 21:9 screen, but for 16:9 content this will be like looking at a 40″ display.

LG or Philips 55″ series

Best size/price choice is 55″ Philips or LG at this moment. So first about LG: what’s up with the LW and LM series? Here is an explanation about the model numbers, apparently the LM’s are a year younger (2012), prettier, but also have a one-sheet-of glass design (glossy!), nano-LED (better blacks) and a browser with flash (except for the LM615 which is not a smart TV?). Also, I found that their top series are back-LED instead of edge LED. To conclude: note that on the above page the subnumbers and colornumber are not right for the LM and LW series.

The 2011 LW570s has a few different pictures on the web, could be silver/bronze or black. The LW 650 and 4500 all have ugly shiny plastic bezels. All these 2011 LW models are really less reflective then the 2012 LM models: The LM 620 also has this ugly shiny plastic bezel, but from the LM 670 and up it’s a one sheet of glass design and the bezel looks really nice. The LM760 was pretty cheap with a great cashback action. It’s really flat and has connectors point to the side and bottom. It also features the nice floating “ribbon” desing stand.

Even though the bezel is really small (LM760: 10mm / LM860: 5mm) it still is a black area in between the silver plastic frame and the moving picture. So it does look nice when the TV is off, but I am buying a TV to watch films, and I will only really like this design if there is NO bezel.

In the end I got the LG LM760. Because of the reflections from it’s glossy screen I had to bring it back and got a matte-screen Philips 7606 instead. Here are the other key differences:

LG 670: 0.11cd/m2 – 120 cd/m2
Philips: 0.22cd/m2 – 210 cd/m2 = 950:1

LG 760: 123 x 72,3×3,36 / 21,3 kg / 84W (A+)
Philips: 128x75x3,85cm / 20,9 kg / 78W (A+)

The philips has a real aluminum housing and stand, while the LG is plastic. The philips adds a SD-cardreader, ambilight and better sound, but the LG is a better smart-TV and has wifi. The philips is brighter, but the LG has only 13ms ghosting instead of 20ms.

Projection

For projection there are three options:

  • 3D Projector with a (built in) transmitter for active glasses. This might be nice for small groups, but I can already see all problems like empty battery, bad sync and missing glasses. At this moment, passive 3D projectors are the only option if you don’t want to spend more then $ 11000 on a 3D projector;
  • 2D 100 Hz Projector with 3d-VIP‘s $ 530 universal 3D converters for conventional 50Hz/100Hz displays, with active shutter glasses. This system is USB or HDMI powered with a sync port for the RF active glasses. This takes the v1.4 (720p frame packing) input and converts it to 720p50, 720p100 field interleaved. It seems to add a little latency (less then one frame) and I don’t think it supports side-by-side or any other 3D format output. The more expensive 3D theater version also supports 1080p24 input.
  • 2x 2D projector with polarizer filters and passive glasses. This is the ‘old’ system which works well but needs two similar (and preferably) calibrated projectors with built in keystone correction or lens tilt. You will also need a splitter or other device to provide both beamers with their own genlocked full HD video stream. This setup takes time to setup and align but will provide you with 2x full resolution and framerate without loss of brightness.
  • 3D projector with built in over-and-under or a switching polarization filter. The first technique will make you loose half of the vertical resolution, while the second technique is used in most cinema’s (realD) and needs higher framerates of 150 or 144 fps.

Single passive 3D projector

I prefer the last system as it is quick to setup (only one projector and one HDMI input), convenient and cheap to scale up (passive glasses). For this passive system you will need a silver or aluminized screen to maintain the light polarization upon reflection. The added advantage of such a screen instead of a white screen, is that there will be less loss of light. The only disadvantage is that it will have a narrower viewing angle then the standard matte white or contrast gray screens.

The cheapest all-in-one option is the LG-CF3D, which is a passive 120 Hz 2500 ANSI lumen projector for $ 11000. I have not looked if it is over/under (half HD) or switching (full HD) technique. There is one alternative: the  $ 1500 Tru3D add on for active shutter projectors. It is a switching polarization filter that you can put in front of the projector and hook it up to the service port for sync. Then you can buy the $ 1200 Epson EH TW5900, the $ 2000 Optoma HD33 or the $ 3000 Panasonic PTAT5000E or Mitshubishi HC7800D.

The silver/aluminized screens can be $ 1000 or more (Da-Lite or Stewart for example, see projectorreviews for more info. You’ll also need a nice way to mount the projector, like on a very steady tripod.

This also is an interesting development: glasses free 200″ lightfield projection. Now it’s in prototype state, but one day it will be in stores for $ 500.

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Posted in: S3d