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

i-O Display Systems i-glasses HRV

David Katzmaier
David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- TVs and streaming
David runs CNET's home entertainment division, where he leads a team that covers TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home audio. If he doesn't know something about the gear you use to keep yourself entertained at home, it's not worth knowing.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
2 min read
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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