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Myvu lets you view, but fails to block distractions

This video viewer sure does look cool, though.


It's not too often that iPod accessories make you feel like you've just stepped into a slick sci-fi spy movie. But the Myvu Personal Media Viewer from MicroOptical sure does. This $299 device is a piece of eyewear with attached earbuds that lets you view your iPod's video content on a screen in front of you. It plugs right into a video media player or compatible cell phone and lets you view video that, according to the company, appears to you as though you were two meters away from a 27-inch TV. Plus, it comes with a battery "backpack" that claims to add six hours of video viewing time.

I was able to try out the Myvu at a NYC press preview for January's Consumer Electronics Show (which will be in Las Vegas) and I was both impressed and disappointed. The sound and picture quality were definitely pretty cool (I watched the video for Gwen Stefani's song "Hollaback Girl"), but my problem was the "situational awareness" that MicroOptical touts as an advantage. The company has designed the Myvu so that it's easy for viewers to see over and under the screen and consequently be aware of their surroundings. Thing is, I could see so much when I was wearing the Myvu that I felt more or less confident that I'd be able to get behind the wheel of a car with the thing on, let alone see the fidgety kid in the next airplane seat over.

So here's my verdict: I'd consider buying a Myvu if it was equipped with some kind of expandable, slide-out "shield" that let me block out bright lights and nearby visual distractions. In its current form, it just isn't effective enough for comfortable video-watching.

"Comfortable video-watching." Wow, the 21st-century trend of home theaters and surround sound sure has spoiled us all.