Review: Zalman ZM-M220W

Our score: 3/5
Reviewed: May 29, 2008 11:00 PM
3 want this Me too!
 
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Published: May 29, 2008 11:00 PM
By Vincent Alzieu
The Zalman ZM-M220W is a 3D LCD screen.  We can imagine the hearts of techies everywhere jumping at this point.  Well, the dream has finally come true.  Say goodbye to reality as we know it and say hello to a virtual world where the walls actually move, objects have depth and theere is finally deep immersion in gameplay.  Does it work? Yes!  But there are some catches...

Let’s start with the science: as the image below illustrates, the graphic card doesn’t emit a single image when 3D is activated but rather two that are slightly separated.  To do this, each image occupies every other line. 



Two sets of lenses are provided in the form of glasses and lens covers
The 2D definition is thus 1680 x 1050 pixels, which is then mathematically decreased (and this is noticeable to the eye) to 1680 x 525 pixels.  Filters on the glasses then perfectly block out respective portions of the images in order that each half image is seen by one eye.  Your brain then combines them and this creates a sensation of depth.

Unfortunately, there are certain conditions to be fulfilled in order for this to function correctly.  The first is that you have to wear the polarized glasses.  The second is that you'll need a powerful NVIDIA graphics card!

Only very recent and high end models will be able to properly handle the transition from 2D to 3D, especially in Vista.  You should know that not all games are compatible, but the list is long and published on the manufacturer’s site.  However, when you find a game that does work, something you've spent hours playing on in 2D takes on a whole new light in 3D.

3D: it doesn't always work

Providing you've passed the first two hurdles, there's one other potential problem:  not everybody can see the 3D well.  And when you do get it, eye fatigue is common, making it difficult to stay in 3D mode for long periods of time.  It's a bit like the "3D" books that were popular a little while ago: you need to focus carefully on the image, keep it at the right height and distance from your eyes, and then suddenly, it pops out.  You have to give it your undivided attention, too, so you can't look away from the screen to answer the phone or talk to your friends and family.  When we rtied it in our offices, some people saw a 3D image immediately without any particular effort while others really had trouble.  For the latter, the eye fatigue was significant from the start and they weren’t able to enjoy the screen at all.

3D is impressive; 2D less so

Because 3D mode doesn't work for everything, and certainly isn't suitable for office use, we also looked at the ZM-M220W's performance as a 2D screen.  Here, it’s a bit disappointing and we would say that this monitor is better as a second screen rather than as your main workstation.  The addition of a polarizing filter on the panel, indispensable to activating 3D, affects the homogeneity of brightness in 2D.  In addition, default settings are very average and sadly cannot be significantly improved upon.  More specifically, white is reddish and grays have a blue dominance.  You can noticeably improve the situation by changing into ''TEXT'' mode in the OSD even if black still lacks a bit of depth.

Another paradox is that it’s a monitor for gamers, but response time is rather mediocre.  It’s actually what is currently the slowest on the market and when compared to other 5 ms TNs, it is one of the most modest.  Luckily, the 3D effect is so impressive that we can quickly overlook this.



Finally, the form factor on this latest Zalman model offers more options than the average 22'' monitor.  The base is vertically adjustable, it pivots into portrait mode and it’s rotatable.
3/5 Zalman ZM-M220W DigitalVersus 2008-05-30 00:00:00

Pros

  • Image really has depth for a number of games
  • Ergonomics
  • Two sets of glasses provided: glasses and clip on lenses
  • A dream (almost) come true

Cons

  • You will need a recent high end graphic card
  • Less expensive than originally planned but still not cheap
  • Responsiveness, colours

Conclusion

One day, our kids won’t believe that we only used 2D screens. This Zalman is one of the first monitors in a new era.

OUR SCORE 3/5
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