Review: Sony HMZ-T1 Personal 3D Viewer
Sony’s HMZ-T1 Personal 3D Viewer is a niche product that works phenomenally well.
Siobhan Keogh | Thursday, February 09 2012 | 3 Comments
Product type: 3D video headset
RRP incl GST: $1200
- Incredible 3D viewing
- Minimal eye-strain
- Uncomfortable to wear
- Great sound
A real, cinematic 3D experience - if you can live with constant discomfort from the weight.
Sometimes in the PC World office, testing gadgets starts to get a bit ordinary. You test smartphone after smartphone, tablet after tablet, laptop after laptop. But then one day you strap a head-mounted display to your head like it’s a super-futuristic visor.
Sony’s HMZ-T1 Personal 3D Viewer is a niche product that works phenomenally well. To set it up, you plug the headset – which has a five metre cord attached, no wireless technology here – into a pass-through box and plug that box into anything with an HDMI output, like a Blu-ray player, or better yet, a PlayStation 3. I ran it through a PS3 and found that we had to turn the viewer on first, then the PS3, because the console detected whether a 3D device was attached only when first switched on. Once that was sorted, however, the headset would detect whether 3D was available from the video source and switch it on and off automatically.
Even in 2D mode, the picture is shiny and crisp. It is, essentially, like sitting alone in the middle of a cinema – the display takes up almost all of your field of vision, and once you pull the headphones down over your ears, you’ve got great, built-in surround sound. Watching a 3D Blu-ray with the headset was, if anything, actually clearer than watching a movie in a theatre where HD video is often blown up so much that it doesn’t look like HD anymore.
That was impressive enough, but then I started playing Wipeout HD - a colourful, high-speed racing game involving hovercrafts – and first-person shooter Resistance 3 with the 3D depth cranked right up, and both blew me away. For the first 20 seconds or so I felt a little eye strain, but after that it was a comfortable and clear experience. The viewer provided what is almost the most immersive gaming experience one can have – with a couple of caveats.
Unfortunately, there are no shades on the device to block out light coming in from the sides, and the lenses do reflect a lot of that light back into your eyes. The constant flickering took me out of the experience and can only be resolved by DIY shades. A bigger problem, however, is the way the device is weighted.
For something that gets strapped to your head, the viewer isn’t lightweight, and the bulk of that weight is in the front of the headset. I found my head being dragged down by the viewer, which isn’t great for your neck and puts enormous pressure on your nose. A counter-weight might have worked, but we suspect keeping the weight of the device as a whole down was a priority. Because of the way the viewer is weighted, it can’t be comfortably worn for extended periods.
The HMZ-T1 is awesome. Really, it is, and I didn’t want to give it back. But I can’t justify telling you to go out and buy one with a price tag of $1200, even if you love 3D movies or gaming. I’m waiting for the lighter, more balanced follow-up product, with attached (or detachable) shades. Now that product I might even buy for myself.
I just got it I use spectacles no problems at all, and I just love it !!!! here is attachable shades on my version. only issue is the pressure on my nose,
Posted by jp at 12:12:35 on March 12, 2012
I have no intention of buying one, but would love to have a go
Posted by bobby at 16:50:10 on February 13, 2012
I'd like to stick a couple of Microsoft Kinects onto the headset to push forward development of augmented reality. Imagine being able to record everything you see including depth with the ability to further augment that and feed it to another user potentially on an other planet.
Could iPhone 5 include a pair of electronic spectacles which include 3d video recording and the ability to record your daily life for storage on the cloud.
Posted by Geordie at 9:40:26 on February 11, 2012
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