SONY HMZ-T1 Personal Visor / Glasses
Both the gaming community and moviegoers are excited about the launch of the Sony HMZ-T1 personal viewer,
The unit was first launched on 11/11/11. Within days it was sold out worldwide and pre-orders are being accepted for a second wave of units which will hit the market in early February 2012.
I managed to get my hands on a unit recently, so this article is based on my personal experience with the Sony HMZ-T1.
So what exactly is this Sony personal viewer and does it live up to the hype?
Basically, it’s a pair of high-tech wrap-around glasses that you put on over your eyes. Two very small (0.7-inch) OLED screens (1280x720p) are placed in front of your eyes creating the illusion of a large cinema screen directly in front of you. If you place your face 6 “from a 19” screen, you will have an idea of the size of the screen.
A simple analogy would be to imagine yourself sitting alone in a large movie theater. Just you and that big movie screen about five rows in front of you. The experience itself is simply amazing. But more on the actual experience shortly.
First impressions have a lasting impact …
My initial impression of the unit was that it seemed somewhat smaller than I expected. Much smaller compared to the advertised images I had seen online. The front was encased in a white plastic that felt quite flimsy. It’s definitely not a well-built product, as I’ve noticed that the slide buttons, retention straps, and the overall density of the plastic look pretty cheap. I’m not an engineer, but I felt like most of the external hardware parts probably came directly from China. But hey, I’m not too interested in the external aesthetics of the device, as I was more intrigued than what goes on inside this wonderful little device.
I start it
So after gaming, adjusting the head strap, headphones, and horizontal distance from the OLED displays, I finally turned the unit on … Wow … I was presented with a bright blue screen that was surrounded by darkness apart from a little light spilled down from my cheeks. On the right side are menu buttons that allow you to navigate through a setup menu that appears on the screen. After calibrating the unit for the best visual performance and HDMI input, it is ok, it supports HDMI. I hit start on a Blu-ray player.
Kapow! The visuals were amazing … I mean, my jaw really dropped … this is damn cool!
I think it’s worth mentioning, I’ve had a couple of other personal viewfinders over the years, like the Emagin z800 and the new Sony screw up every other eye. The resolution is so sharp and clear, the color contrast is fantastic.
Having praised OLED display technology, I would also like to point out that just around the corner Sony is investing in QD. (Quantum dots) Light-emitting particles that are 100,000 times smaller than the width of a strand of human hair can be printed on flexible plastic that can be rolled or even printed on large sheets of paper to create giant screens. Imagine a personal visor that uses QD on a flexible screen that wraps around your peripheral vision. But for now we are happy with the OLED displays.
Bright blue screen .. mmmm
So where were we … oh yes, the Sony HMZ. I was impressed, really impressed. The Blu-ray movie I saw was a 3D Pixar animation called Monster House. So I was able to test the 3D depth, which is one of the many main features of the unit. By using dueling OLED displays, Sony has been able to neutralize a problem that plagues 3DTV commonly known as “crosstalk.” The audio is crisp, clear with very good bass. I adjusted the audio levels to my liking and was quite impressed.
What … headless FOLLOW … what were they thinking?
I’m a bit disappointed that Sony hasn’t gone a step further or built head tracking into the unit.
Head tracking would give the user the ability to play first-person style games, creating a more immersive virtual reality experience, for example if you look up the graphical display panels.
There is a simple solution. Natural point TrackIR device can be easily connected. I tested TrackIR with various HMDs (head-mounted devices) and found that the display refresh rate does not exist with current computer hardware.
Such a device longs to be unleashed …
I’m just speculating here, but I feel like Sony is simply testing the waters to see if there is a large enough market to support such a device. I feel like there are certain features of this unit that show that it is still in its infancy, not a complete device designed to fit a mass market. Take, for example, the separate HDMI interface. Obviously this is a leftover external hardware box from something like a TV tuner or similar device. Sony has tied it to the visor with a 2m long cable. It is as if many leftover parts have just been cleaned. Full HDMI box prevents user from going mobile with this device. Such a device yearns to be unleashed … plug and play SWTOR (Starwars the old Republic), for example, while lounging on the beach or taking a long train journey.
The future is so bright … I have to wear sunglasses …
The Walkman of the 21st century. Hhhmm … maybe headphones date back to Walkman headphones from the early 1980s, just kidding … I don’t think we even had Dolby surround sound back then. Now that I think about it … I remember a wacky professor from the movie Back to the Future wearing a couple of futuristic looking shades when he came back from what date was it … 2012 maybe?
Priced at $ 800.00 US, the unit will obviously not be under all children’s Christmas trees, but if production increases, perhaps a year from now, prices may drop below $ 400.00 … but not it would make me illusions.