It was over a year ago that I visited Sharp Laboratories Europe, located near Oxford, where Sharp had developed its 3D-screened laptop the Actius RD3D. I got to take a look at this laptop on that day, as it made a rare visit to the UK: It has been launched in the US, but not in the UK. I also saw some Sharp mobile phones with 3D displays that were even then on sale in Japan.
It has taken a while for Sharp to bring its 3D technology to the UK, but the company has finally managed to do so with the LL-151-3D; a 15-inch monitor you can use in both 2D and 3D modes with any PC that has either digital or analogue video out capability. The big draw of the monitor, and of Sharp’s 3D technology in general, is that it gives you the 3D viewing experience without the need to wear special glasses.
There aren’t many samples of the LL-151-3D around, but I got my hands on one and lived with it for a couple of weeks. It wouldn’t pre-empt my conclusions too much to say that at the end of this period, my feelings about the LL-151-3D are mixed.
All the connecting cables except for the headphones slot into the back of the casing, and stray cables can be gathered under a removable plastic cover. This helps keep things tidy, though if you’re the kind of person that wants to put your monitor away after periods of use, as some laptop owners do, you probably won’t bother with the cover.
The monitor has a couple of speakers built in. It has to be said that unless your existing sound system is ancient and/or pretty poor, you’ll probably find yourself using what you have already rather than the small integrated monitor speakers. Like most integrated speakers, these are only really good for the odd Windows alert tone, so don’t expect to be enjoying music while you work through these. Quality was improved when I plugged in a reasonably good pair of headphones, but it was still not really worth the hassle of fitting the cable to take sound from the laptop I was using to the LL-151-3D, or of wiring myself to the monitor.
The black surround and base are rather nice – I find this visually more appealing than silver somehow. That is a matter of personal taste, I guess. You can raise and lower the screen height, and tilt and swivel it, enabling a good viewing angle to be achieved. I found this feature particularly useful when working in 3D mode – as I’ll explain later. However you are stuck with landscape format as the monitor won’t pivot into portrait mode.
As a standard 2D monitor the LL-151-3D is competent. It delivers a nice, sharp, clear image, and its settings options are easy to manipulate. A row of buttons on the front of the casing provide access to the various controls allowing you, for example, to alter the volume, change brightness and vary the red, green and blue ratios that affect the overall hue of what is delivered to the screen.
However the screen is very, very reflective. Initially I was working with a window to my left with the monitor to my right, but the reflection from the window was more than I could bear. I had to shift things so that there was no ambient light reflection – once the right environment had been achieved this monitor was able to show off its superbly sharp rendering.