Zeiss Cinemizer OLED review: Portable 3D headset misses the mark

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The Good The Zeiss Cinemizer OLED is a lightweight and portable 3D headset with very good battery life. The headset is stylish and appears well-made. The headset supports iPhone.

The Bad Image quality is poor, plagued by blue and red crosstalk and minimal shadow detail, draining images of impact. The 40-inch simulated image is way too small. The earbuds sound terrible, and the headphone jack only works with the iPhone attachment. They also make you look weird.

The Bottom Line While it looks like it came from the future, the Zeiss Cinemizer OLED headset offers performance from the Dark Ages.

5.7 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 3

Every once in a while, yet another manufacturer attempts to create the video version of the iPod personal music player, but no one has cracked it. Though famed German optics company Carl Zeiss AG deserves credit for creating the lightweight, portable Cinemizer 3D headset, ultimately it, too, misses the mark.

While the Cinemizer fixes several problems I noted with the similar Sony's HMZ-T1 3D glasses -- size, weight, lack of portability, inability to adjust each eyepiece individually -- it's a worse product overall. The Cinemizer manages to combine a smaller, lower-resolution screen with much poorer performance, and it costs roughly the same price as the Sony headset.

Regardless of whether you're watching 2D or 3D content, the Cinemizer introduces blue and red crosstalk effects, skies strobe, and movement during 3D movies flickers. The earbuds that ship with the headset are dreadful, and though there is a headphone jack, it works only with iPod viewing.

As a result, the search for the ultimate video headset continues. Perhaps the upcoming Sony HMZ-T2 will fix all that?

Design and features
In many ways, the Cinemizer is the Sony HMZ-T1 Lite. It's more than three times lighter -- 120 grams versus 420 for the Sony -- and therefore more portable. Designwise, it's a lot less like a helmet (Sony) and more like a pair of glasses -- albeit it a freaky all-white pair of glasses. Like the ones the Doc wears when he comes Back from the Future.

The lenses feature individual focus dials. Sarah Tew/CNET

The headpiece has a set of adjustable clips that hold the glasses on behind your ears. As a further aid to customization, the lenses on each are separately adjustable, and therefore friendlier for both people who don't wear glasses and those who do. The Sony had only a clunky system that moved both lenses at once, resulting in blurring on parts of the screen.

The head unit can be fitted with a 30-pin iPhone adapter. Sarah Tew/CNET

The headset connects umbilically via a 4-foot cable to an included small unit that's the size of a clamshell phone. The unit comes with an HDMI adapter, but there is also an optional 30-pin iPod adapter available ($80). Like those Oakley MP3 sunglasses from a couple of years ago, the Cinemizer headset includes a set of earbuds that mount into the frame when not in use or that can be removed entirely. The unit also includes a volume control, a headphones socket, a USB port, and an AV input.

While the Cinemizer can take an input of up to 1080p, the native resolution is a much smaller 870×500 pixels (compare that with Sony's 1,280x720 pixels). The headset has a pair of OLED screens inside that simulate an image of 40 inches at a distance of 6.5 feet. That's actually a paltry size compared with what's possible, and another big strike against the Cinemizer headset. The Sony simulates a 100-foot screen, for example.