Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cheap 3D TV Solution

I've been wanting a 3D TV for a while, but the pricing has put me off. Where I live, they cost about NZ$1499 for a 40" screen and you have to buy the glasses at about $100 / pair and each person needs one, so I'm looking at 5 pairs of glasses for about $500. Plus, no one broadcasts in 3D where I live, so 3D can only be for playback, not broadcast reception. 

There had to be a better way...and there is if you're prepared to compromise on screen size.

I recently bought an LG D2542P 25" monitor for my PC from PB Tech for NZ$338+GST. I found that it supports viewing of any 3D content I have that is in side-by-side parallel format. This is the default format for both my LG 3D Max phone and my Fuji Real 3D W3 camera, so it is a perfect match.

On my Windows 7 64-bit PC, the Tri-Def  3D software supports all 3D formats I've tried it with - excluding obvious ones like anaglyph where the "3D" is embedded in a 2D image using different colours.

I have been using my "Magix Movie Edit Pro MX Plus" video editing software to compose higher-quality 3D videos for local viewing. It's the same software I use to make 3D videos for upload to YouTube.  


This worked so well on my PC we went out and got a cheap (NZ$124 on special) Philips BDP5200 3D Blu-ray  (with Wi-fi and ethernet) player from DSE. But we soon found it was hard to use the PC when people wanted to use the same screen for watching 3D movies.

I bought a second LG D2542P monitor to use as a dedicated TV.  Problem solved.

We have a Magic TV "My Freeview" set top box for viewing free-to-air digital TV. It and the Blu-ray player connect to the LG screen via HDMI. But as the screen only has one HDMI port, I bought a Digitech HDMI switch with 4 ports from Jaycar.  The Switch is HDMI 1.3b compliant (not 1.4) but works very well with the 3D Blu-ray player and the MagicTV box and I have had no problems. I also bought 2 x Concord 0.5m, HDMI 1.4 fly cables.

One little quirk: to get the LG screen to see the MagicTV box I had to connect a regular CRT TV to the MagicTV box and - via its setup menus - tell the MagicTV box it was talking to a PC monitor, not a CRT TV. After that, I connected the monitor to the MagicTV device and all was well. Maybe it would have worked anyway and I just wasn't being patient enough....but this way it definitely worked.

LG D2542P "Cinema 3D" monitor

Audio is fed via HDMI to the 4-port switch which also includes an audio splitter. I run a male-to-male 3.5mm cable between the HDMI switch an the 3.5mm "AUX" input port on my very cheap Philips stereo. My ears aren't that great (though not that bad, either), so I don't waste money on hi-fidelity audio gear I can't really appreciate anyway.  

Now I can watch normal 2D TV or 3D Blu-ray movies on my very cheap  25" 3D TV. I can use passive glasses instead of active shutter, so the glasses are cheaper and viewing 3D movies is easier on the eyes.

The smaller screen means we have to sit closer, but we found this actually free-ed up a big chunk of the living room / lounge and we now have space to use for other things, whereas before the CRT TV had dominated the room. As we aren't really heavy TV watchers, they was a big waste of space. 

If you want a 3D TV for cheap and you're prepared to make some compromises on screen size, then this will work great.