Sony PlayStation 3D TV Review: This Holiday Season, You Can Spend $500 Better Elsewhere

Sony has not only become one of the biggest names in film entertainment, but also one of the biggest publishers in the current industry for entertainment in the evolving interactive video game medium. As of 2010, Sony set out on a mission along with many other like-minded companies such as Samsung, LG, Panasonic, etc to provide mainstream consumers with what we term as the “3D-Craze” in stereoscopic display blooms. WhatIfGaming  has been devoted to all thing 3D and unlike most other entertainment publications has been covering 3D for more than 10 years since 2000 from conventions to 3D technology industry events (3DFF, etc). This means those 1950s DVDs with the 3D glasses. Naturally, when Sony released this product November 10, 2011, it was essential to cover this highly enticing 3D TV set for any consumers for Christmas season and holidays, especially given what Sony claims to offer. We have conducted the most rigorous tests anyone can on this $499 MSRP 24” Sony PlayStation 3D TV bundle using our 2 sets in-office for reasons of control, quality, and multisampling. While the Sony PlayStation 3D TV is enticing for consumers who cannot necessarily pay more for a higher quality entry 3D-TV set, it comes with some noticeable problems in the testing rounds which should serve consumers to think three times before purchase. Colors are not saturated accurately, the reflective glare of the LCD coating is an abysmal problem, and the very notion that the 3D is even being utilized for all purposes is generally missing despite the “FULL-HD” moniker. Sony has made a 3D TV that is decent for a 24” TV set if it were priced at $199-299, but something which does not feel like it is even worth half of what more superior entry-sized 3D TVs offer at $499.

The Sony PlayStation 3D TV comes with a sleek black casing design that is similar to the stylish offering of a PlayStation 3 minus the substance. The PlayStation 3D TV does not come with a remote, but similar Sony branded remotes can work if you have a Bravia set laying around the house. The actual casing itself feels rather cheap, however, with a thermoplastic polymer alloy of polyvinyl, similar to earlier computer monitor casings but the outline of the housing does not matter too much in terms of functionality which the main importance of any review, especially a TV that offers a newly introduced mainstream technology that people just caught onto post-Avatar in their homes.

The Sony PlayStation 3D TV underwent few standard tests utilizing 2 screens and respectively 2 separate pairs of glasses. For this TV, we tested color saturation assay using Tripheynalmethane with direct capture off HDMI 1.4, accuracy of the frame-hertz and 3D imaging given various media tested from Avatar Panasonic 3D Blu-Ray, to Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.  To start off with, color saturation in the digital scope is something that most people, reviewers included, fail to grasp. Color pigmentation or contrast of colors is essentially the value of a crystal diode being emitted by the current LCD source through the backlight being emitted through the liquid crystal medium. It is impossible to accurately claim colors as “vibrant or rich” without establishing some set of method to test this directly. Human eye-sight can only perceive about 200:1 contrast. This means for every full on pixel there is at least 1 out of 201 that is less than ideally lit. Considering only WhatIfGaming has ever done this test, we feel we have a handle on things. We tested the actual backlight function on a piece of white paper covered with Tripheynalmethane (an expensive chemical). For the less science enthused, this is a common polymer used in medicine to test the relative wavelengths of light through a sample of light emissions. The higher the wavelength, the less accurate the backlight is even given lighting conditions change person to person. Testing the Sony Playstation 3D TV’s light emission using a direct source exposure reveals something surprising: the contrast ratio and the actual quality of the backlight is cheaper than the more expensive but non-1080p TV screens. Likely, at $499 they had to downgrade this aspect of the screen immensely, considering most 3D-entry TV’s at ~$1000 start at 4x the wavelength at 850nm. One thing has been established: the colors themselves and the backlight themselves are relatively cheap and undersaturated compared to even high end lower contrast models. This is one thing buyers have to be wary about and it is critical. Even if it offers 2000:1 contrast in theory, the TV can ever only put out any deep color variances in a very limited range.

This screen’s accuracy and sharpness of colors gets more degraded when the active-shutters are used and the immense glare LCD coat is put to the test. Active shutter glasses constantly cycle between two frames in a dimensional analysis cross in the hypothalamus of the brain, creating the 3D variance seen.  Sony claims a “FULL-1080p” experience, but realistically at 24” and considering most of the Sony 3D video game titles such as Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Resistance 3, and Killzone 3 are sub-3D. The utilization of the TV is just not there, which fuses with the other important critical point that the TV itself is not harnessing 3D accurately at 24” or even at all with sub-3D upscaling which somewhat falls on developer support itself and not the TV. This is not to say the 3D TV is not capable of actually outputting 1080P, but in terms of 3D 1080P per eye, the shutter cycling is a big problem.

In terms of actual 3D 240Hz quality, during testing we noticed a 3D Transmitter lag in the shutter frames, where there is apparent blacks appearing at high-action sequences. We further tested out the hertz of the frames using a physics imaging software and the cycles of hertz actually varies from 100-120Hz, which explains for the drop time to time. This actually counters the claim that the Sony PlayStation 3D TV is a full-120Hz constant shutter system.  As a TV itself or a PC monitor, the Sony PlayStation 3D TV is great for $499 and up-close 3D viewing of Blu-Ray films (where the 3D is just as incredible on full-sized 3D TVs minus the actual power of a bigger screen), but at $499 one can easily get a 50” standard LCD TV that is better in color, and quality.

Throughout testing, all the weaknesses of the Sony PlayStation 3D TV led to one question: Is getting a $499 TV with tax that offers little 3D use even worth buying for the holidays or at all given the the 3D itself is not technically “FULL-1080P” and downgraded by the monitor’s small size, shutter inaccuracy, and lastly weaker colors? The answer, while we fully can appreciate Sony’s push for 3D TVs in the low-cost markets, is simply: No. We cannot recommend this set even to people desperately wanting a cheaper 3D TV, as it is not worth its value in price. 3D projector displays that utilize shutter technology would be a better investment. This $500 can definitely be better spent elsewhere for consumers. If anyone is too desperate, then they may just want to go with a Samsung PN50C490B3D 768P 3D TV or the more superior 40”+ Sony Bravia 3D TV models that are much better priced in terms of quality and film entertainment use.  Sony continues to make strides in the higher-end 3D TV models when it comes to stereoscopic technology, but they should definitely stick to doing what they do best and price accordingly. This does not cut it.

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