Sony 3D Glasses: A Tale of Two Pairs

In our experience, most active 3D glasses are sensitive to head position or, more precisely, head tilt. With most of them, however, the effect is minor and limited to a slight darkening of the picture.

But Sony's active 3D glasses, up to now, have been different. When using the company's HDTV 3D glasses, a 3D image on the Sony displays we've tested doesn't darken as you tilt your head from side to side. Instead, the left and right images break up, producing significant 3D crosstalk or, as this artifact is more colorfully known, ghosting. In addition, the Sony's 3D color varies with head position, shifting reddish with a tilt in one direction from vertical and bluish in the other. The latter effect makes it impossible to do a reliable 3D calibration; one eyepiece of the 3D glasses has to be placed over the lens of the measurement meter for a 3D calibration, and even a slight tilt can affect the result. Fortunately, the Sony 3D sets we've tested recently have produced visually satisfying 3D color even without a 3D calibration, though it's unlikely to be accurate. Nevertheless, the head-tilt ghosting and color shifting are annoying.

A reader recently wrote to inform us that Sony makes another version of its 3D glasses. These are designed and sold primarily for a PlayStation 3D display designed for gaming, and not for Sony's HDTVs. But they’re claimed to be universal, and according to the reader they eliminate the ghosting and color shifts common to Sony’s HDTV-specific glasses.

We wanted to try a pair of these PlayStation mystery glasses on a Sony 3D HDTV we were evaluating recently, the new XBR HX950 series (review pending), so we went ahead and bought them from Amazon. They're shown on the left in the above photo (CECH-ZEG1U, $70 MSRP, $30 on Amazon). On the right are Sony's 3D Titanium glasses, designed and sold for the company's HDTVs (TDGBR750, $100 MSRP, about $72 on Amazon). The metal-framed Titaniums are a bit lighter and more stylish. The plastic PlayStation model, in contrast, looks clunky and geeky, though I’ve found there are benefits in 3D glasses, like these, that block light coming from the sides. Both were, for me, equally comfortable, though I haven't yet spent two or more hours with the PlayStation version perched on my nose. There were slight differences in the 3D color through the two glasses, the Titanium's palette looking slightly cooler, but both were equally satisfying in that regard. And both produced an equally bright 3D picture on the Sony XBR.

Bottom line: The PlayStation glasses performed as the reader claimed. As with most active 3D glasses, the image dimmed slightly with a head tilt, but unlike the Titanium model, it produced no visible ghosting or color shifts. While we did not perform a 3D calibration with these glasses (they arrived too late in the review cycle) they should make a reliable 3D calibration possible. Why Sony doesn't employ this technology in the 3D glasses it offers for its HDTVs is anyone's guess.

While so far I've only used these glasses on the XBR set and a Panasonic 3D video projector, it actually worked properly with both of them, suggesting, though not fully confirming, that the claim of universal compatibility may be justified.