The Best 3D LCD Monitors: Affordable 3D for Everyone

The Best 3D LCD Monitors: Affordable 3D for Everyone
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In Your Face

It’s the 1980s all over again. After nearly two decades of irrelevance, new technologies are allowing the concept of true 3D images to re-emerge. The glasses are still required, but they’re not the ridiculous red-and-blue headpieces of yesteryear. They’re hip and modern, and when used with a monitor and a video card which support 3D it is possible to experience true in-your-face gaming and video.

This push of new 3D technology is still an infant, however, and it can be hard to find a monitor which supports 3D. The three monitors listed here are all capable of working with a set of passively polarized glasses to produce true 3D images.

iZ3D H220Z1 22" Monitor

With new technology comes new companies hoping to make their mark, and iZ3D is such an example. The company has been making monitors for the last few years with the aim of providing a 3D experience to anyone interested. These products, when the debuted, were very expensive. For example, this 22 inch monitor was $699 about a year ago, but it now can be found on Newegg for $299.

What is interesting about the iZ3D monitor is that it only requires a video card with two outputs in order to display 3D images. Currently Nvidia is the company pushing 3D technology, but the iZ3D works with ATI cards as well. This is because the iZ3D monitor creates 3D images by placing two separate panels in the monitor itself. The 3D can be activated when desired, bringing the second panel to life. Slap on the glasses and you’re done.

There are some problems. The monitor doesn’t support SLI or Crossfire configurations, which will disappoint some gamers, and the 3D quality can be fussy in some games. However, $299 is actually a very affordable price for a 3D capable display, and the ability to use it with any video card is appealing. The iZ3D monitor is in fact the only way for those with ATI video cards to enjoy 3D gaming. The iZ3D is also a nice 2D display, which is a nice bonus when you’re not playing games.

Zalman Trimon 22" Inch

The Zalman Trimon

The Zalman Trimon was one of the first monitors based off the concept of interlacing two separate slightly off-set frames in combination with the use of polarized glasses to create a 3D effect. For most companies of product of this type would be rather unusual, but Zalman has a long history of making crazy niche products, so it is unsurprising that they came to adopt the technology so quickly.

At a typical price of $250, the Zalman Trimon is certainly the most affordable way to purchase a true 3D LCD monitor. However, the Zalman Trimon is restricted by the hardware which supports it. Windows Vista or Windows XP can be used, but both are restricted to Nvida cards, and Windows XP users will have to use legacy Nvidia drivers which don’t support, among other things, Nvidia 8000 series and newer video cards. Vista users should be good to go with any Nvidia video card.

The compatibility issues will make the Trimon a non-starter for some, but those who do own a Vista machine with a compatible Nvidia card will find the Trimon to be the most affordable option.

Nvidia 3D Vision Bundle with 22" Samsung Monitor

Nvidia 3D Vision Bundle

Nvidia has determined that 3D could be the next big thing for gaming, and they’ve gone at it with full force. While ATI has yet to respond with its own 3D technology - meaning those who own ATI cards have to purchase the iZ3D monitor or forget about the idea - Nvidia has created its own 3D Vision brand. The hope is that, a few years from now, gamers will be able to walk into a store, purchase a 3D Vision branded monitor, and use it to view true 3D with any Nvidia video card.

For now, however, things are smaller. There are only a handful of monitors which are certified for use with 3D Vision and Nvidia only endorses its own polarized 3D glasses, which is most likely the reason why the Trimon is not listed as a 3D Vision capable monitor despite using the same basic technology (Zalman provides their own 3D glasses). While one could purchase a monitor and the glasses separately, Nvidia has created the 3D Vision Bundle to make it easier for gamers to get started.

The bundle includes a Samsung 22" monitor capable of true 3D graphics and Nvidia’s proprietary glasses. In exchange, you must part with nearly $600 bucks. It is a better deal than it seems. Nvidia’s 3D glasses are active glasses, compared to the passive system used in the iZ3D and Trimon. These active glasses filter light based on information from a wireless device plugged into your computer. The result is a 3D experience which is superior to both the iZ3D and the Trimon. The 3D Vision bundle may cost a lot, but if you’re willing to spend the extra money you’ll be rewarded with the best true 3D gaming experience available today.