There's no question about it: 3D technology is HOT right now. Whether you're ready to hop on the bandwagon or just want to keep on top of what's out there, there are two new monitors that should be on your radar, the Acer HN274H and ViewSonic V3D245. Both of these 3D monitors feature embedded 3D emitters designed for NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology.
Both of these monitors share a number of similarities, but they also have some very obvious differences. Thanks to NVIDIA, Acer and ViewSonic, we were able to get our hands on both of these monitors so that we could give you a full hands-on look at what each one has to offer.
Acer HN274H (left) and ViewSonic V3D245 (right)
First up, we'll take a look at the Acer HN274H. This monitor is the first 27-inch, native NVIDIA 3D Vision monitor. It offers both Dual Link DVI as well as HDMI 1.4a support. With 3D Vision HDMI 1.4, you'll get support for 3D on all HDMI 1.4-based notebooks featuring NVIDIA GPUs. You'll also get support for 3D gaming with the Sony PlayStation 3. The Acer HN274H also offers two built-in stereo speakers with HDMI audio support.
Next, we'll take a look at ViewSonic's latest 3D monitor, the V3D245. Like the Acer HN274H, the ViewSonic V3D245 features an integrated 3D Vision IR emitter as well as Dual Link DVI and HDMI 1.4a support. This monitor also supports 3D on all HDMI 1.4-based 3D devices such as Sony PlayStation 3 consoles, Blu-ray 3D players, and 3D notebooks with NVIDIA GPUs. According to ViewSonic, the V3D245 is the first 24-inch desktop monitor with a built-in 3D Vision IR emitter.
Before we dive in to the hands-on review, let's take a look at the specifications of each monitor side-by-side.
The Acer HN274H features a traditional black bezel with a mostly black stand. The bezel measures approximately one inch on the sides and 1.5 inches on the top. The bottom bezel is a bit thicker because it curves downward. With the stand, the monitor is 18.44 inches tall and 7.56 inches deep.
In the past, you had to connect a separate 3D emitter to the PC in order to make full use of NVIDIA's 3D Vision Kit. Now, Acer and ViewSonic (and some others, like Asus) are building these emitters into the bezel, which is certainly convenient. The Acer HN274H's built-in 3D Vision emitter is located on the top center of the bezel of the monitor. Keep this location in mind if you use a webcam or center channel speaker clamp as you won't want to block the emitter.
Click to enlarge, Acer HN274H
Acer includes not one, not two, but three HDMI ports on the HN274H. With these ports, you'll be able to connect any 3D-capable device that outputs stereoscopic 3D content using the HDMI 1.4a 3D frames packed standard. This includes devices such as the PlayStation 3, some standalone 3D Blu-ray players, NVIDIA GeForce-based notebooks with HDMI, and others. Keep in mind when you're using the HDMI 1.4a input from your PC, you'll be limited to 720p60/50 or 1080p24 when gaming.
HDMI isn't your only connectivity option with the Acer HN274H. This monitor also has a USB port, D-Sub, Dual-Link DVI-DL (with HDCP), audio connector, and a power connector.
Click to enlarge, Acer HN274H Inputs
The ViewSonic V3D245 also features a traditional black bezel with a black stand. The bezel on the V3D245 is thin around the top and edges and slightly thicker at the bottom with the thickest part in the center below the ViewSonic logo. The side and top bezels measure less than one inch. To the left of the ViewSonic logo on the lower bezel, there is a 3D mode power light. This light will let you know when 3D is turned on and can be useful if you ever need to troubleshoot the ability to display 3D content.
The V3D245's stand is in the form of a diamond pattern. Although the base looks cool, it prohibits you from sliding the monitor as close to the wall as possible. It's a small issue, but users with very small desks may notice. With the stand, the V3D245 measures 17.4 inches tall and 9.5 inches deep.
Click to enlarge, ViewSonic V3D245
In the box of the ViewSonic V3D245, you'll find a power cord and adapter, audio cable, D-Sub cable, DVI-D dual-link cable, 3D Glasses, ViewSonic Wizard CD, and quick start guide. All of the ports for the V3D245 are located on the back of this monitor. Ports include audio out, DVI, D-Sub, and a single HDMI 1.4 port. As with the Acer monitor, you can connect the V3D245 to a PlayStation 3, some 3D Blu-ray players, NVIDIA GeForce-based notebooks with HDMI, and other devices and enjoy stereoscopic 3D content using the HDMI 1.4a 3D frames packed standard.
One thing both of these monitors lack is height and pivot adjustments. Both the Acer HN274H and the ViewSonic V3D245 offer some tilt controls, but that's the extent of the adjustments you'll get with these monitors.
|Controls & Calibration|
For controls, the Acer HN274H employs touch-sensitive inputs that are built in to the lower right corner of the bezel. These controls work relatively well, though it wasn't uncommon for a loose cable or other object on our desk to bump them and open the control menu. There are five touch sensitive buttons in all. Each of these controls is illuminated with a dim backlight that makes them easy to find. The Acer HN274H has a physical power button instead of a touch-sensitive power button.
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On the Acer HN274H, you can press any of the touch-sensitive buttons to open the control menu. From here, you'll see five shortcut options: Empowering, Auto Adjust, Menu, Volume Control, and Input. The Empowering menu provides access to the Acer eColor Management OSD and access to various scenario modes. Using the auto adjustment function, the monitor will set the HPos, VPos, Clock and Focus. As you would expect, Menu opens the OSD menu and Input cycles through the different video sources and displays a message on the top right corner of the screen to let you know which input source is currently selected.
Like many monitors we're seeing today, the ViewSonic V3D245 also uses touch-sensitive controls that are built into the lower right bezel. The power button is among these touch-sensitive controls. We didn't have any problem with the control menu appearing accidentally when cords and other desk objects accidentally pressed against these buttons. When we pressed the buttons with our finger, the menus promptly appeared.
Click to enlarge
There are four touch-sensitive control buttons on the ViewSonic V3D245 labeled 1, 2, down, and up. These buttons are not backlit. The rightmost button is power. Interestingly enough, these controls are not located at the extreme edge of the monitor. Rather, the power button is about three inches from the edge of the monitor. ViewSonic includes OSD and Power Lock settings using a combination of these touch sensitive controls.
By pressing the '1' button on the ViewSonic V3D245, you'll open the Main Menu. This button can also be used to exit the control screen and save adjustments. When you open the Main Menu, you'll see options for contrast/brightness, input select, audio adjustments, color adjustments, manual image adjust, setup menu, and more. To select any of the menu items, press the '2' button. Overall, we found the ViewSonic V3D245's control menu very easy to navigate.
To test the monitors, we used an EVGA GeForce GTX 570 graphics card and the Lagom LCD monitor test pages found at http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/. The Lagom LCD monitor test pages provide tests for saturation, banding, sharpness, and more.
Contrast on the Acer HN274H was excellent. The Acer HN274H was also sharp and had very good black levels. The white level performance of the Acer HN274H was slightly saturated at the high end. Banding was not an issue on the Acer HN274H. The monitor showed some signs of pixel walk when viewed up close, however. Overall though, most users should be very pleased with the performance of the HN274H.
Contrast and gamma were excellent on the ViewSonic V3D245. Both the black and the white level performance were slightly saturated at the ends of the spectrum. This monitor also had a very slight amount of gradient banding. Similar to the Acer HN274H, we experienced some pixel walk with the V3D245. Viewing angles for the V3D245 are consistent with what we would expect for a TN-based monitor, however.
Although neither the Acer HN274H nor the ViewSonic V3D245 is designed to compete with higher-end IPS panels, both monitors will provide respectable performance for most users.
The Lagom LCD monitor test pages were designed to shed light on a monitor's performance. Let's be honest, though: if you're purchasing a monitor, you'll be more interested in real-world use and performance than test patterns. Recognizing this, we put the Acer HN274H and ViewSonic V3D245 through a subjective analysis. To see how these monitors perform, we watched a number of movies and fired up a few games. We also checked out each monitor's 3D capabilities too.
The Green Hornet @ 1080p
One thing we noticed about the Acer HN274H was that it took longer than most monitors to wake from sleep. Although this is not a deal-breaker by any means, we felt it was worth mentioning. The ViewSonic V3D245 didn't experience an abnormal lag when waking from sleep.
Standard and high-definition 2D content on both monitors was excellent. While viewing both still images and videos, we felt that colors were vibrant and blurring was minimal during fast-action scenes. Since both of these monitors feature a 120Hz refresh rate, you'll get all of the benefits of a faster panel when not taking advantage of their 3D capabilities. Even with simple tasks such as minimizing and maximizing a window or dragging a window around your desktop, you'll notice that a 120Hz display is smoother, crisper, and feels more responsive than a 60Hz display. With a 120Hz panel, you'll also get a smoother gaming experience with V-Sync enabled versus more common 60Hz panels, provided you've got a GPU fast enough to feed frames to the screen.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon @ 1080p
We viewed 3D content while the monitors were connected via Dual-Link DVI cables. 3D pictures and videos were excellent on both the ViewSonic V3D245 and the Acer HN274H. When switching between 2D and 3D content, you'll notice a short flicker of the monitor. If you haven't watched 3D content before, you'll be amazed at the difference when you put on the 3D glasses and watch a 3D video.
|Subjective Analysis – Gaming|
Recognizing that part of the appeal of NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology is its support for more than 525 3D games, we also loaded up several of the latest gaming titles and ran them with 3D enabled. We wish there was a way to truly show the benefit of 3D gaming and NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology, but there isn't, so you're going to have to trust our descriptions here...
Duke Nukem Forever
While playing Duke Nukem Forever on the Acer HN274H and on the ViewSonic V3D245 we noticed a very slight amount of ghosting. The ghosting was about the same with both monitors and it had more to do with 3D Vision than pixel response time on the screens. While playing Duke Nukem Forever, we felt 3D enhanced the game experience because it provides better depth perception and helps you to feel more immersed in the game.
Alice Madness Returns
In Alice: Madness Returns, 3D quality on both monitors was very good. Thanks to NVIDIA's PhysX technology, you also get more realistic physics with far more particles on screen during some sequences while playing this game. If you set PhysX to "High," you'll get to enjoy all of the visual elements the game has to offer including feather effects when Alice double-jumps and more. The 3D effect with all of these moving particles on screen is something that really needs to be seen to be fully appreciated.
Since spatial awareness is a key component in Portal 2, playing the game in 3D gives you a better ability to judge distances and angles of the puzzle elements. While playing Portal 2 on both the Acer HN274H and the ViewSonic V3D245, images were crisp and 3D quality was excellent.
While gaming, we didn't notice any tearing or other strange artifacts on the ViewSonic V3D245 or on the Acer HN274H. Overall, we were very impressed with both monitors. 3D images really popped and colors were bright and vibrant. Furthermore, the overall experience in all of the games we tested was smooth and responsive using 3D Vision with a GeForce GTX 570.
If you're looking to upgrade to a 3D capable, 120Hz display, a monitor with an embedded 3D emitter and the latest 3D Vision technology from NVIDIA will appeal to you. For now, the Acer HN274H and ViewSonic V3D245 are two of the better options. Although both monitors offer many of the same features, there are a few key differentiating points.
For starters, the Acer HN274H is a larger, 27-inch monitor that offers a bevy of ports and connectivity options including three HDMI ports, a USB port, D-Sub, and Dual-Link DVI-DL (with HDCP). But, with all of these options comes a higher price tag. The 23.6-inch ViewSonic V3D245 is smaller than the Acer monitor and has fewer connectivity options, but it also has a price tag that will be a bit kinder to your wallet. At the time of this writing, the ViewSonic V3D245 is available for preorder for $599. Acer's larger HN274H is currently shipping with a street price of $679.99.
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In terms of performance, both monitors offered respectable performance in the Lagom LCD monitor test pages. We were also very happy with the responsiveness and crisp images displayed by both monitors in both 2D and 3D modes in our subjective tests. Keep in mind that NVIDIA 3D Vision technology currently supports more than 525 games as well, so in addition to good image quality, being able to go back and play some older titles in 3D mode may appeal to some users.
Overall, we were pleased with the performance of both monitors. We would have liked to see more adjustment options in the form of height and pivot controls, however, and the relatively high cost of these monitors may also hold some buyers back. But ultimately, they're both worthy of consideration. It may be slightly cheaper for users to purchase the NVIDIA 3D Vision wireless glasses kit for $149 and connect it to a compatible monitor for a similar end result, but you won't have quite the same convenience as with the built-in emitters found in the Acer HN274H and ViewSonic V3D245, plus you'll have that additional emitter cluttering up your desktop.