Sony brings 3D cinema to your eyeballs

Take any consumer entertainment concept, add in the words “3D”, and you’ve got a 21st century gadget. Well, that seems to be the logic in Sony’s latest release.

Over the years there have been plenty of gadgets that boil down to sticking some sort of display in a pair of spectacles or a helmet and acting like it’s the same as watching a 100 foot high cinema screen. My favorite are the various custom accessories for video iPods: not the ones that transfer the video stream to a pair of glasses, but rather the ultra-low rent ones that stick the iPod into the visor of a hat.

Now Sony has taken a concept it demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show this year and turned it into a commercial product. The HMZ-T1 is a head-mounted display that’s midway between a pair of spectacles and a cycling helmet.

The display is made up of two 0.7 inch OLED panels, with a 1280×720 pixel display, which sure seems like some tiny pixels to me. Anyhow, the claim is that it’s equivalent to watching a 62 foot screen from 65 feet away. That’s an odd claim to make as it’s hard to visualize it (so to speak) and tell whether it’s the right balance between the effects of sitting too close to your massive flatscreen TV and sitting too far from your grandmother’s 13 inch portable.

As noted, the display is 3D and also has “5.1 surround sound”, though that’s produced virtually using two speakers. There are separate sound modes, including one for games where the emphasis is on making the intended direction and location of a sound clear.

It’s not exacrtly portable: you have to hook the headset up to a processor unit, which in turn hooks up to your chosen playback device such as a Blu-ray player. There’s also an output on the device that passes the video through to a TV set, though it appears you can only have either the glasses or the TV set displaying video at any one time, which rules out the opportunity to watch everything on the glasses while the rest of your household sticks to the TV.

If the glasses sound like your ideal Christmas gift, you’ll need to make your way to Japan in November and hand over 60,000 yen, which is a little under US$800.

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