Want true 3D gaming without coloured glasses or huge headsets? Zalman’s new monitor might actually deliver it
Despite our many pleas to the gadget gods 3D television has remained as elusive as the flying car. From the plastic sharks in Jaws 3-D to the Doctor Who steadycam special, we’ve seen it all and remained distinctly unimpressed.
But all is not lost. It may not be as sophisticated as LG or Philips’ prototype 3D TVs, but Zalman’s ZM-M220W display for gamers is – and we don’t say this lightly – really, really good.
Go put your specs on
It creates the 3D effect by transposing two slightly different images on screen at once. Filters in front of the display then work with a lightweight pair of polarised specs to ensure each eye only sees one of the images. The brain puts them together, adding depth to in-game worlds and objects.
Because the effect itself is created in the videocard driver, it can be applied to almost any game. And it does work - everyone who tried it in our tests was impressed, jumping out of the chair when the first test logo came towards them.
Most impressive, proving we are both weak romantics and incredibly geeky, were butterflies floating past our heads in World of Warcraft. When you have a 3D monitor images that are normally lost in the background can fly out of the screen and enhance the experience no end.
The filters are visible as a faint grid over the desktop when the glasses are removed, which means the screen is darker than 2D competitors. But other than that the ZM-M220W is as good as almost any other similarly specced one out there for non-gaming activities.
It’s not perfect, though. You’ll need an nVidia graphics card and specific drivers to get it working. Moving your eyes even slightly can also turn a scene of incredible depth into a headache-inducing blur, so playing fast shooters isn’t really recommended. And the 3D effect is more effective in some games than in others: Half-Life 2, for example, was a notable disappointment.
Then there’s the price. That will change as the technology becomes more mainstream, but right now you can have two excellent Samsung 226CWs with their enormous colour gamut for the same cost, and you’d be able to turn your head between them without getting a migraine too.
Zalman ZM-M220W review
Proves that 3D isn’t just a gimmick, but there are still a few technical issues to overcome