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A big-screen TV that comes in a hat

Who doesn't want a sun visor that doubles as a movie screen

Companies have tinkered with the concept of wearable monitors for years. This summer, Santa Monica-based Headplay is going to see if the public wants to buy them.

In June, the company will begin to sell its Personal Cinema System (PCS), a portable movie viewer/PC monitor whose principal component is a sun visor that sports a TV monitor under the brim for close, personal viewing. The PCS also comes with a control unit with a memory card slot for playing recorded movies or videos; headphones' and a device for selecting and navigating through the possible content selections with your thumb.

Headplay

The whole package will sell for $499. "It is something you have to try," said Jay Puryear, director of interactive marketing at Headplay.

The viewing experience is akin to watching a 52-inch TV from 6 feet away, after a user gets accustomed to it, according to Puryear. The actual monitor, which only measures about 4 inches across, beams images through a set of eyepieces. By looking through the eyepieces, the mind "sees" a largish, rectangular movie screen, or virtual monitor, on top of a black background.

During a few quick trials, I never got the full 52-inch experience. It reminded me more of watching a movie on a GAF View-Master.

The good news for Headplay is that the picture quality is a lot better than you might think. In one test, I watched the first few minutes of Saving Private Ryan, a frantic action sequence that includes lots of splashing water and quick edits.

Granted, it felt like watching TV through a scuba mask, but I could see getting acclimated to it. As the cheapest man in North America, I won't spring $499, but it comes down in price, who knows?