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i-O Display Systems i-glasses HRV review: i-O Display Systems i-glasses HRV

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The Good Video glasses with a 70-inch virtual screen; 800x600-pixel resolution; fine image detail; headphones play relatively loudly; S-Video connection included.

The Bad Very expensive; somewhat bulky; battery costs extra.

The Bottom Line A unique though high-priced alternative to portable LCD video screens, the HRV Pro delivers an impressive picture.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.0 Overall

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Designed for professional videographers, the $1,199 i-glasses HRV Pro delivers a personal A/V experience without a TV. Compared with the less expensive HRV, the HRV Pro offers much better video quality; a good contrast ratio results in truer blacks and lots of detail in shadowy scenes. Of all the video goggles we've tested, this is the one set we could enjoy for a movie or three. It's too bad the Pro is so expensive.

The Pro consists of a bulky blob that straps to your forehead and hangs in front of your face. A pair of small windows aligns with your eyes, and flip-down headphones cover your ears. When we first donned the Pro, we had to tighten its elastic strap to counter the front-heavy fit, but the headset felt comfortable enough--if not exactly natural--after a while. Like its sibling, the Pro fit fine over our normal eyeglasses, a plus not offered by the other video goggles we've tested.

The package includes two 16-foot cables. One has S-Video, RCA stereo-audio, and power connectors. The other cord is for composite video, but the HRV is incompatible with computer signals. The optional battery pack for on-the-go use costs $139--excessive, given the Pro's sky-high price.

By navigating the onscreen menu with three awkwardly placed buttons on top of the glasses, you can adjust contrast, brightness, color, and position. We tried out these controls using some test patterns, and the Pro's video quality surpassed the standard HRV's by leaps and bounds. Blacks looked quite dark, indicating that the Pro's contrast ratio rivals that of the better standard LCD video screens we've seen.

We watched Monsters, Inc. in its entirety without suffering any more eye fatigue than we did at the theater. The detail in Sully's fur and the alternating colors of Randall's scales looked great, and the 70-inch virtual screen provided a fully immersive experience. And like bifocals, the Pro preserves enough peripheral vision to let you look down and see the real world. The headphones' volume drowned out the drone inside an airplane cabin, but our ears were mighty uncomfortable. We recommend switching to high-quality earbuds such as Sony's MDR-NC11.

Overall, the HRV Pro offers great video quality for a portable device, but its hefty price tag will scare away all but the most deep-pocketed early adopters. If you're looking for a less expensive option and you're willing to sacrifice picture quality, check out the standard HRV and the Ingineo Eyetop.

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