Zalman ZM-M240W Stereoscopic 3D Monitor - Subjective Tests and 3D

Article Index
Zalman ZM-M240W Stereoscopic 3D Monitor
Features and Specifications
Testing the ZM-M240W
Subjective Tests and 3D

 

Performance - Text:

The majority of my use and is text and internet browsing and I used the ZM-M240W in this regard as a primary display on a gaming PC for several weeks and was very pleased with the overall text quality.  The resolution on this 24" unit is fairly typical 1920x1080 and the fine dot pitch makes it very clear and readable.  One thing that you may not realize however, is that when you wear the glasses on a 2D desktop, the text it almost totally unreadable as the screen has a fully interlaced appearance.

 

Performance - Video:

I didn't have much time to watch movies, but I did make sure to watch some movies and 3D clips on the ZM-M240W.  Both VGA and DVI connections performed well and I noticed no issues with the screen for watching movies.  Keep in mind that you will need 3D movies in order to take advantage of the screen when watching movies.  A Samsung TV on the other-hand can up-convert 2D into 3D and this will give the consumer more 3D content to look at.  Thankfully, Zalman has included 3D Video player software and even a tool to make Stereoscopic desktop wallpaper.

 

Performance - Gaming:

I'm spoiled when it comes to gaming on LCD displays.  I currently use a 30" Samsung 305T or an ASUS 24" 120Hz display and am used a pretty fluid gaming experience.  In terms of 2D gaming, the Zalman ZM-M240W is pretty much flawless as it has enough brightness and contrast to make your games shine.  This is a 3D monitor however so we must spend a bit of time on 3D performance.

Crysis 2 3D

Crysis 2 3D

Crysis 2

MW2 - 3D

MW2 - 3D

Modern Warfare 2

 

I've done a fair bit of gaming over the past few months with the NVIDIA 3D Vision kit on the ASUS LCD and this gives be a base-line for comparing the Zalman passive solution.  Active 3D shutter glasses always provide you with a full-resolution experience, but at the cost of a 60Hz flicker that can cause extra eye-strain.  The passive Zalman solution doesn't pose this type of eye-strain, but you do lose half of the horizontal resolution.  Another drawback is that the convergence and separation have to be set to a static setting and while the iZ3D driver tries to "auto focus" for some games, it is very hard to setup the distant objects to be clear when keeping the foreground objects clear as well.

After a fair bit of tweaking, I was able to play Unreal Tournament 3, Modern Warfare 2, Crysis 2 and more games in 3D with great results.  Even though the image does look a bit interlaced through the glasses, I found there to be a lot less eye strain with the Zalman solution than with 3D Vision from NVIDIA.  There is no flicker and if you can get convergence and separation nailed down, you'll have a good experience.

As with most 3D games and movies I've watched; less is more.  If you set the separation too high, you expose the problem with 3D content that cannot be overcome: the point of focus (screen 24" away) and the point of convergence of your eyes are at two totally different lengths.  This is what can cause eye-strain and why 3D doesn't "work for everyone".  Most of the time I set the separation to about 5 - 10 and had a great experience as this added depth to the game without making my eyes strain off into the distance that really isn't there.

 

I can game for hours on the Zalman ZM-M240W LCD, and even though the image quality is half-resolution of the NVIDIA solution, it does provide an experience that is easier on my eyes - once you get the settings tweaked just right. 

 

Conclusion:

The 3D debate is long from over and there is not a definitive winner at this point.  Active shutter glasses do provide the best image quality - but at the expense of eye-strain and cost.  Polarized (passive) solutions like the Zalman ZM-M240W can ease the eye-strain, but are a bit more finicky to set up and provide their own sets of challenges.  I've been using a 3D display for over 6 months as well as 3D HDTV's - all with shutter glasses, so I've seen enough flickering in my life to last my lifetime.  I really appreciate the fact that the Zalman unit uses "cheap" polarized glasses that are RealD compatible.  That is possibly one of the best reasons to pick up the ZM-M240W - price.

Image quality is average and I had trouble getting one game to render properly at all - but overall the experience was pretty decent.  I actually used the ZM-M240W one evening for a bunch of online play and I found that it wasn't a hindrance in performance like I've seen with active shutter glasses.  I was able to keep gaming for hours with these and didn't do too bad.   Any competitive gamer will tell you that gaming competitively in 3D is impossible.  With the Zalman ZM-M240W - it was possible and it did so without making my eyes bleed.

3D technology is probably here to stay (in one form or another) and this screen enables you to find yourself a bit more immersed in your favorite game.  Is it the best solution on the market?  Probably not, but it is affordable and is one of the first polarized displays we've seen to hit the mainstream.  There will be a lot more competition in the near future to keep Zalman innovating.  That is important as products will get better and the consumer will win!

 

Pros:

  • Polarized glasses are affordable
  • Decent contrast ratio
  • Adequate 3D effect
  • Comes with software for playing movies and creating 3D wallpaper
  • Fully HDCP DVI + VGA connections
  • Built-in speakers 
  • Less eye-strain than active shutter-glasses

 

Cons:

  • Stand feels flimsy
  • Doesn't work on all games
  • Hard to tweak so everything remains converged and focused
  • Interlaced method cuts vertical resolution in half (540px)

 

BCCRating

Silver

I'd like to thank Zalman for sending us this display for the review.  It will be a shame going back to a lame 2D display.  If you have any questions or comments, please post them in the forum at the "Comments" link below.