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Ingineo Eyetop review: Ingineo Eyetop

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The Good Ultraportable video; stylish and stealthy; convenient belt pod.

The Bad Expensive; tiny screen; monocular design causes eyestrain after a while; ineffective picture controls.

The Bottom Line These expensive glasses are a très cool option for viewing video on the sly--as long as you don't want to watch a whole movie.

7.5 Overall

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The premise of the Ingineo Eyetop is simple: a tiny LCD mounted inside fashion eyewear lets you privately view video anywhere. At $449, the Eyetop is the least expensive pair of video glasses we've seen. It's also the most stylish, with a distinctive Euro-shades look. Only a sizable protrusion on the right side and a dangling cord give any indication the Eyetop is not a standard set of sunglasses.

One reason for the relatively low price is that, unlike the i-glasses HRV, the Eyetop is monocular. The single small screen is on the right, so you must either look in that direction or close your left eye. We preferred the latter; viewing with both eyes tended to double the image, and we suffered eyestrain after a while. An eye patch should be a standard accessory. Also note that the Eyetop doesn't accommodate regular spectacles.

The Eyetop comes with a little control pod that clips to your belt. The pod, which connects to the glasses via a three-foot cord, houses the power switch; controls for contrast, brightness, color, and tint; and a quartet of AA batteries. The single composite-video input will accept a portable DVD player, a multimedia jukebox such as the Archos AV320, or a similar external source. The other included accessory is a vinyl carrying bag. You don't get integrated headphones, but that's no big loss.

Video quality is decent but lacks the sharpness and the detail you see with the HRV. The fault lies with the small LCD and its low 320x240-pixel resolution. With such a little screen, the Eyetop also can't deliver the immersive experience that the HRV can, especially for viewing sessions longer than 30 minutes. The picture controls were maddeningly ineffective, so we gave up on optimizing the image.

On the other hand, the Eyetop is stealthy. Its porta-cool factor puts the iPod to shame. During our short subway commutes, the glasses didn't get us so much as a glance from other riders, and we liked always being able to see the real world. In fact, we wore an Eyetop while writing this review. For mini home theater, you should definitely choose the HRV. But if you want to enjoy private videos in public for brief periods of time, the Eyetop does the job best.

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