Sony HMZ-T1 Personal 3D Viewer review: Sony HMZ-T1 Personal 3D Viewer

Setup
I found attaching the headset to be quite a challenge and with my larger-than-normal bonce, the straps were too small to give a comfortable fit. If you're prodigiously cranial, ala Megamind, then you can forget about buying this device.

Once attached, the headset presents you with a setup menu for adjusting the screens for eye spacing. Unfortunately it's not possible to get all of the text on the screen sharp at the same time; preserving sharpness in the center of the screen rendered the edges blurry. Once you get past all the warnings--take regular breaks, should not be used by children 15 and under--you can get cracking.


Performance
Using the T1, 3D proved to be particularly engrossing, and 3D games were actually fun to play for the first time. On 3D TVs the depth effects seem too eye-popping, and hence brain-popping, for most games, but the HMZ-T1 is much more subtle and engrossing. I tested a number of PlayStation 3 games on the headset and found that even the notorious Wipeout was free of crosstalk.

Display-introduced crosstalk is nonexistent with this device since it actually sends different images to each eye, instead of relying on the active shutters or passive polarization in 3D glasses to separate intermingled images on a TV screen. Since crosstalk is one of the most annoying 3D artifacts and visible to some extent on every 3D TV I've seen, it was refreshing to experience a stereoscopic presentation where it simply wasn't a factor.

Movies were just as enjoyable, and I quickly lost track of time when watching "Avatar" in 3D. I would say that if given a choice of watching passive 3D or using the goggles, I would choose the Sonys if picture quality were the only factor. But there is one major caveat: the heavy headset becomes uncomfortable after a while. Watching a 3-hour movie can become tiring, and the system even warns you at that mark to take a rest.

Watching in 2D was also fun, but not quite as enveloping. Black levels were fantastic with plenty of detail, but you might want to sit in the dark to take full advantage, as the top of the headset is open. Colors, even in the default Standard mode, were truthful and thanks to the deep blacks had plenty of pop. The 1080p/24p support was excellent with smooth pans and onscreen movement.

Blurring on the edge is visible with moving video but not distracting most of the time. Games with intricate onscreen displays that include figures on the far edges, on the other hand, definitely suffer. And while I found I could use the headset as a personal PC screen, it's not worthwhile because of the blurring.

Apart from the blur problem there were some other issues that spoiled my enjoyment. The pixel structure is quite visible on a light-colored screen, and there was a significant lack of detail when compared with what you'd see on a 1080p TV.

For action movies, the built-in headphones sound decent with plenty of low-end weight and midrange attack. But this can also translate to incomprehensible dialogue from mumbly, deep-voiced actors like Harrison Ford. If I hadn't seen "The Empire Strikes Back" so many times, I wouldn't have known that it wasn't a cave they'd hidden the Millennium Falcon in.

Playing music? Nosiree. If you're masochistic enough to wear a video headset to listen to tunes, you'll be greeted with flat, muddy replay. The speakers aren't able to generate enough high frequencies to make music enjoyable.

Conclusion
Who is this headset aimed at? I'd say if you're looking at quick bursts of gaming or a bit of 3D TV, then the HMZ-T1 will serve admirably. Its lack of portability is an issue, and aside from watching adult movies, there's really nothing short of bloody-mindedness that would make users choose this over a cheaper 3D TV in the long term. Will it start a trend? Probably not, but for what it's worth, this is definitely the best video headset I've ever used. I look forward to seeing (and hearing) where this technology can go next.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Display Type Head mounted display / OLED
  • Image Aspect Ratio 16:9