While 3D televisions are still unjustifiable-to-the-spouse expensive, the PC monitor end of the spectrum is increasingly heading to the polar opposite. The HP 2311gt is one such solution that is aimed at that market, providing 3D capability along with the usual PC monitor features at an affordable price. How it does during our test, is what we find out.
The HP 2311gt is aesthetically similar to the company’s existing 2311x monitor. Both share the same specs too, such as the 1080p resolution, LED backlighting, 5ms response time, and 250-nit brightness. The only main difference is the 3D support.
The 2311gt isn’t particularly sharp in appearance - it black and drab - although the tiny sky-blue power light and its roundish form do add a bit to uplift the look. A little. The OSD controls are snuck under the right bottom edge of the frame and are sufficiently accessible. The menus are a bit awkward at first due to the lack of markings of what they do and don’t – I once reset the settings to its factory default because I couldn’t understand how to select ‘no’ and go back. However, you get the hang of them quickly once you start using them regularly.
The monitor is light on ports – there is only one of VGA, DVI and HDMI, but considering the price point, it’s a fairly acceptable crime to commit. What I did really like about them, though, are their placement. They are slapped flat straight on the back of the monitor, instead of hiding them in a dig that requires you to tip the monitor on one hand, wear a miner’s helmet to read the markings and fiddle around to install the cable on a slot. It even has a little green light that indicates if the power is working! It's the little touches, I tell you.
Screen and color reproduction
The 2311gt is a normal LCD monitor, so do not expect the vibrancy of an OLED or the color reproduction of an IPS panel.
Of course, being an LCD-only monitor doesn’t mean it’s poor, and the HP is far from that. In our FlatpanelDK tests, the monitor performed exceptionally, producing accurate colors and smooth gradients. The display does have banding issues on certain colors but none of them is pronounced or has an adverse effect on the final image quality.
Under regular use, like for everyday browsing and gaming, I found the image quality balanced in terms of color saturation and sharpness. The monitor offers four custom presets to choose from, with the fifth option being ‘custom’. Out of the presets – Movies, Photo, Gaming and Text – I found ‘Text’ to be the most comfortable one, even though it’s way too bright to be the correct choice to read text for a long period of time. It served well for movies and games, and that’s what I found myself resorting to.
Surprisingly, bleeding was a complete non-issue for the screen, which is quite impressive, I must admit. Not many top-end monitors can of boasts this.
Again, a non-issue. The text remained sharp and clear under various font and background colors. A little bit of purple shadow behind text is fairly acceptable, and expected, but the 2311gt had none of it.
A 5ms response is usually competent enough for most types of media and the HP 23111gt once again had no problem dealing with them. Ghosting is usually caught when dragging a colorful object against a grey background but the monitor handled it aptly without any enormous double images or trailing. It was near perfect.
The viewing angles are remarkably good. The colors do get lighter when you move around the monitor, it however maintains good image quality to not really become an issue sharing the screen with someone besides you. It isn’t good enough for watching movies or playing games, of course.
The 2311gt uses passive film patterned retarder technology to produce the 3D effects. Passive-3D is usually touted for its superior reduction in crosstalk (where the left and right image overlap is visible) and for its use of lightweight, cheap to produce and good-for-the-eye 3D glasses.
A passive display usually suffers from visible vertical lines across the screen and the HP 2311gt is no different. While one does get used to it after a bit (the lines are visible in 2D mode as well), they do get pronounced in some scenes and breaks the immersion, and in many cases, the 3D effect as well.
But keeping the limitations of the technology aside, the 2311gt is capable of producing fairly decent 3D images. Crosstalk is a bit of an issue and it varies from media to media. For example, when watching Immortals in 3D, the crosstalk was kept to minimum, but the problem was amplified in Puss In Boots due to the more colorful tone of the movie.
Another shortcoming of the 3D is that it must be enabled via software. Most 3D televisions have the in-built option to select side-by-side or over/under 3D settings to support the media playing. However, in order to play 3D content on the 2311gt, you must download the packaged CyberLink PowerDVD media player to do so.
The dependency on the software means that 3D games from PS3 and Xbox 360 will not work unless the consoles support software-side 3D support – which they do not.
At $300, the HP 2311gt is a fantastic value-for-the-buck small screen 3D solution. However, the display’s average 3D performance and its lack of hardware-based 3D support mar an overall excellent package. As a 2D monitor, the HP 2311gt is near damn perfect.