Sony’s PlayStation 3D TV: Gorgeous with One Glaring Problem

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Imagine my surprise when, last week, the UPS guy dropped off a package from Sony containing a brand new flatscreen TV—not just any flatscreen, mind you, but Sony’s new PlayStation 3D TV! Remember when they announced it back in June at E3 2011? I’d forgotten all about it until it appeared on my doorstep, as if by subconscious conjuration.

Not that I’m consciously looking for 3D in a TV. Avatar‘s 3D tech did nothing for me, and to be frank, I’m with film critics like Roger Ebert who view 3D as a gimmick. My brain handles the illusion of 3D just fine watching ordinary video feeds without the need for special tech or eyewear.

But the 24-inch PlayStation 3D TV, which Sony’s planning to sell for $500 come November 13, isn’t merely a vehicle for 3D. It’s also a gorgeous native 1080p (1920 by 1080 pixel) screen that just happens to include “quad-speed frame sequential display technology” (a 240Hz refresh rate) designed to mitigate 3D crosstalk (basically where the left-right images don’t line up perfectly and you can see the overlap), stereo speakers with inbuilt subwoofer, edge LED backlighting, an HDMI cable, a pair of 3D glasses and a copy of racer MotorStorm Apocalypse. For I/O, you get two HDMI 1.4 inputs, and a single stereo headphone output.

(MORE: E3 2011: Sony’s New 3D Monitor, $249 ‘Vita’ Handheld, ‘Uncharted 3’ Gameplay)

My first thought, pulling the set from the box, was “where’s the remote?” It turns out there isn’t one—not in my review unit, nor shipping with the retail version. If you have other recent Sony TVs, those remotes work, but if you want to fiddle the PS TV’s settings, you’ll have to do so using the set’s built-in buttons (located on its rear side). That, or use your PlayStation 3 remote, which the set also supports.

My second thought: “It’s sleek and beautiful!” And my third, right behind that one, “Oh no, literally sleek? As in glossy?” Yep, as in “might as well be a mirror.” I suspect that’s partly why the display comes with the backlight setting at max (the other reason being to compensate for stereoscopic 3D’s dimming effect). The good news, is that the contrast ratio and color levels are second to none. The bad news, is that this thing picks up almost any ambient lighting—it’s far more reflective, say, than my 11-inch MacBook Air’s glossy screen. The verdict: best played on rainy days, with the blinds closed, in a darkened room.

Assuming you can get past that (or you live in a cave), the image quality on this thing is beyond outstanding.

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