Articles: Monitors
 

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Nvidia’s stereoscopic vision technology, 3D Vision, came out quite a long time ago, but monitor manufacturers do not seem to be in a hurry to implement it in their products. I guess this market sector is just not hot enough yet. And instead of trying to heat it up by their own efforts, the manufacturers prefer to wait for the mass arrival of appropriate consumer electronics and content, i.e. 3D TV-sets, 3D players and 3D movies, which would promote consumers’ interest towards stereoscopic content in computer games.

This situation presents a number of obstacles for users who want to enjoy true 3D gaming right now. One of these obstacles is the limited number of 3D monitors available today. Moreover, while the resolution of 1920x1080 has already become standard in high-quality home monitors, early 3D Vision-compatible models only had a screen size of 22 inches and a native resolution of 1680x1050 pixels.

Fortunately, things have improved over time and I can now share with you the results of my testing two 3D monitors that have a resolution of 1920x1080 and screen sizes of 23.6 and 23.0 inches.

Acer GD245HQ

Acer was the first manufacturer to produce a 120Hz monitor with a native resolution of 1920x1080, about half a year after the release of 20-inch 120Hz models (1680x1050).

Exterior Design and Ergonomics

 

These days it is hard to impress a consumer with black gloss and original shapes. There are rows of such monitors standing in each computer shop. Acer designers have managed to stand out among the crowd with very simple means: the three rich-orange faceplates on the monitor's stand contrast with the black case to catch the customer's eye. Coupled with the angular shapes, these orange spots make the monitor look somewhat aggressive, which is just what you need in a gaming model!

By the way, the monitor’s screen is matte, and I think that’s good. Glossy screens may look splendid on a shop shelf but produce too much glares under real-life conditions.

The rear view is very standard. We’ve got plain black matte plastic here. You can note the mounting holes for VESA-compatible mounts. They can be used to hang this monitor on a wall or just replace its default stand with a more functional one.

 

The default stand’s functionality is limited to changing the tilt of the screen. No height adjustment and no portrait mode here.

 

The Acer GD245HQ is equipped with a full selection of inputs: DVI, HDMI and D-Sub. The last two interfaces are going to be useless if you want to enable 3D mode. They do not support display modes higher than 1920x1080@60Hz whereas the stereoscopic vision technology needs a refresh rate of 120 Hz.

Although the HDMI interface (in version 1.3 and higher) supports frequencies up to 340 MHz, HDMI receiver chips used to be limited to 165 MHz, i.e. to 1920x1200@60Hz. It is only recently that 225MHz chips have begun to be used. Easy to calculate, this frequency is still not high enough. The 1920x1080@120Hz mode needs an HDMI receiver with a frequency of over 250 MHz.

3D-enabled TV-sets solve this problem by using interlacing (1080i60 mode) or lowering the frame rate by half (1080p30). Both solutions help fit two video streams, for the right and left eyes, into the 165MHz bandwidth, but computer monitors do not support them.

Thus, the DVI interface is the only option to enable 3D mode on the Acer GD245HQ. There is only one requirement: you need dual-link DVI, but every modern graphics card offers it. It is only when purchasing a DVI cable (if the included one doesn't suit you for some reason) that you should make sure it supports dual-link DVI. Cheap single-link DVI cables are rare but still available.

The single benefit of HDMI in the Acer GD245HQ is that you can connect this monitor to two video sources simultaneously, one of which will be able to work in 3D mode.

There is a green audio connector to the left of the stand. It outputs the audio received via HDMI. The monitor doesn't have an analog audio input.

The monitor’s controls can be found on the right of the bottom edge of the case. They are not labeled on the face panel. There are only small dots there indicating the position of the buttons. I guess this solution would be appropriate if the functions of the buttons could be redefined, but here the lack of labels is somewhat inconvenient.

 
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