Let’s consider the image quality of HP's 2311 gt circularly-polarized display compared to Samsung's 120 Hz active solution. Although we can't give you an accurate depiction of stereoscopic 3D on these monitors, we can take pictures through the glasses bundled with each to demonstrate some of the strengths and weaknesses each exhibits when it comes to brightness, ghosting, and clarity.
When it comes to brightness, HP's 2311 gt is significantly better than the 120 Hz solution. This is because the polarized glasses allow light to pass through 100% of the time, while the active implementation alternately blanks out each eye half of the time.
This is obvious in the animated GIF above. The photographs of each display were taken using the same manual camera settings through the glasses provided with each monitor. HP's 2311 gt enjoys a clear advantage in this area.
Ghosting And Viewing Angle
The 3D filters on a passive, polarized screen must aim the 3D effect at an ideal viewing position. If you leave that position, it's probable that you'll see images in one eye intended for the other, resulting in an effect called ghosting. Moreover, polarized filters are not 100% efficient. So, you could end up with ghosting even from the optimal position. An active shutter-based system doesn't suffer the same artifact; you're able to view the screen from a wider range of angles without ghosting.
The HP 2311 gt’s ideal viewing distance seemed to be about 2.5 feet from the display; that's where its 3D effect really popped out. Everyone is comfortable at different distances away from their monitor, and I'm usually about a foot and a half away from my 23" screen, necessitating that I sit farther away than I like.
Although shifting left or right has little effect on the 2311 gt's viability, moving up or down as little as four inches from 2.5 feet away caused massive ghosting anomalies. The monitor does support tilt adjustment, so it's not hard to rectify angle-dependence. However, you are compelling to viewed the screen from one position. And if you have multiple people looking at the monitor, they all need to be on the same plane relative to you. The following animated GIF illustrates:
Even positioned optimally, the 2311 gt suffers from minor ghosting, while Samsung's 120 Hz panel doesn't. As an aside, both displays seem to get a bit brighter when you look at them from higher-up.
Polarized displays look their best if you're watching a movie on them from the comfort of your couch. When it comes to PC monitors, however, you're typically quite a bit closer. In this case, a lack of clarity can become a real problem.
It’s very easy to notice that you only see every other line on the 2311 gt, especially when it comes to fine detail and tiny text. The TriDef 3D driver has a soft interlacing option that helps clarify hard-to-read text from within games. But it's still hard to swallow what you see below from HP's 2311 gt.
Contrast that with Samsung's 120 Hz display, which offers impeccable clarity in 3D mode.
We should point out that the still shots in the animated GIF were taken through one lens from each set of 3D glasses. It'd be logical, then, that with both eyes receiving information from the display that you'd end up with the full 1080 lines of aggregate resolution. In reality, though, the experience is even more distracting than the GIF suggests. Clarity is one of the biggest problems we have with the 2311 gt when it's used for 3D gaming.
Image Quality On The Windows Desktop
The polarized filters on HP's 2311 gt have a subtle, yet discernible, effect on output, even in 2D mode without the glasses on, particularly when it comes to solid colors. It’s minor, and perhaps easy to ignore for some. However, if you spend a lot of time in the pure white backgrounds of Microsoft Word, your eyes will almost certainly catch the difference between a 120 Hz panel like Samsung's and HP's polarized solution.
Still photographs don't capture the visual impact of polarization very well, so we don't have a good screen shot to show you. But we can assure you that non-polarized monitors do not demonstrate the same issue, since they aren't equipped with the same filters.