Sony Personal 3D Viewer (HMZ-T1)

It works brilliantly, but it's not for everyone. If you're single, cashed up, love 3D movies to death or need an immersive gaming experience, then the Personal 3D Viewer may just be the ticket for you.


7.9
CNET Rating
4.0
User Rating

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Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


It wasn't that long ago when the future was promised to us in the form of flying cars, watch phones and virtual-reality goggles. In most cases, the prognostications have fallen well wide of the mark — we're still driving around in cars wedded to terra firma; you can buy a watch phone, but something running iOS and Android is lot more practical and futuristic; and virtual reality exists today, but its uses are primarily in the fields of design, science and training.

What then to make of the Personal 3D Viewer, which does its best to look like an escapee from our future-filled dreams? Is it set to become commonplace in homes across the world, or is it just another interesting curio in our electronic evolution?

What's in the box?

The Personal 3D Viewer consists of two main components: the Viewer itself; and a processing unit to which the Viewer is tethered. The processing unit can be, at most, 3.5 metres away from the Viewer, as that's how long the proprietary cable is.

Hopefully, the next-generation version will feature wireless communication between the processor and the Viewer, as well as support for multiple Viewers to be connected to the one processing unit. Provision for more than one HDMI input would also be nice.

In addition to the solitary HDMI input at the back of the processor is an HDMI-out port, which allows for sound and vision pass through when the Viewer isn't in use. Sony kindly supplies an HDMI cable in the box, but its 1m length requires you to either sit uncomfortably close to your Blu-ray player or console or play musical chairs with your cables.

Does it work?

Don the Viewer, and before your eyes are two 720p OLED displays, which combine to give you the impression that you're watching a screen as large as a cinema's from a few rows back — Sony claims that it's like being 20m away from a 750-inch screen. Concentrate hard enough, and you can pick out pixels, but otherwise the result is excellent.

OLED technology means that the blacks are black, and the colour and vibrancy on display are excellent. On some of the fast-moving, detail-heavy scenes, though, there's a bit more screen tearing than we'd like.

During first use, sound from the telescoping headphones is tinny, hollow and ever so rubbish. Switch the system's virtual surround-sound feature off, and things improve dramatically. You'll never accuse the Personal 3D Viewer of featuring reference-quality audio, but it's more than suitable for day-to-day use — bass can go up quite loud without descending into a booming mess, and speech is easily discerned.

Where the Viewer beats all other display devices is in the realm of 3D. With a screen for each eye, the Viewer is able to produce stereoscopic vision without any crosstalk. With TVs or projectors that are reliant on passive or active glasses, we sometimes suffer from double vision and headaches; not so with the Personal 3D Viewer.

In fact, the only headaches that we suffered from were related to carrying the weight of the Viewer, around 420g, on our brain box. With patience — and we're sure that wearing glasses doesn't help here — it's possible to configure the head straps and forehead rests to distribute the weight more evenly, but even then we struggled to last the 90- to 120-minute running time for most movies.

Show the unit off to friends — you'll want to, with a device like this — and all of that precious time spent tinkering with the physical settings is for naught. In all likelihood, your friends will struggle for a few minutes trying to get everything just so, and then give up once the image is clear. Failure to adjust the headset properly usually results in too much weight resting on the nose, and the only solution to that (apart from spending more time fiddling with the straps) is to hang your head down, as if you've fallen asleep on the bus.

Conclusion

It works! And in the case of gaming and 3D movies, it works brilliantly. But is it a game changer, and would we buy one?

On the first point, it's fairly safe to say that for the time being, it's a niche product done well. And the reason for that boils down to our answer to the second question: no, we wouldn't buy it. For an entertainment device that can only satisfy one person at a time, AU$900 is a lot of money to drop. If we wanted to do away with disputes that arise when one person wants to watch Downton Abbey while the other wants to play Gran Turismo 5, we'd elect to buy one of the many decent TVs on the market.

And we suspect that for many, the response will be similar. On the other hand, if you're single, cashed up, love 3D movies to death or need an immersive gaming experience, then the Personal 3D Viewer may just be the ticket for you.



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Pickel posted a comment   
Australia

can't help but feel this would have more potential if it was portable and able to play files from your tablet / smart phone. i, for one, would fine one of these on a plane / train / bus / station layover fantastic.

 

ADSLNerd posted a comment   
Australia

I was meant to try one of these, but he following issue occurred:-

Firstly, Personal use only - output from Processor box via HDMI to TV - only to the headset.

1. Connected my Sony BD 780 player via HDMI to the Processor Unit marked (HDMI in) (movie was playing). TV off as no output to TV.

2. Connected the 3D Headset and turned it on. Was presented with a screen telling me to adjust the sliders and press menu to continue - pressing menu did nothing. Then the headset screen went blank and that was it - no setup menu no nothing - screens showed nothing.

Secondly, Personal use to headset plus using processor box to output via HDMI out to HDMI in on TV. TV on as out put to TV with headset as well.

1. Connected as original above but also had TV running so others could see the vision as normal while I use headset

2. Turned on TV, switched to Sony 780 BD player mode and movie was playing as normal (saw nothing). As soon as I turn on the Headset, the signal to the TV from the Processor Unit dissapears - tv loses signal altogether from BD player. Connected the 3D Headset and turned it on. Was presented with a screen telling me to adjust the sliders and press menu to continue - pressing menu did nothing. Then the headset screen went blank and that was it - no setup menu no nothing - screens showed nothing.

3. Turned 3D Heaset off, and signal to TV came back as normal from Sony 780 BD player via HDMI.

Additionally, there is no factory reset button to reset the settings for the headset to start again. Its like once its originally setup it can never go through setup again no matter what. Due to the result of the my test this seems to indicate a severe hardware failure somehow.

Im baffled why turning on the 3D headset kills of the BD signal to the TV's HDMI and I tried 3 other HDMI ports, and 3 other HDMI cables - no difference.

 

ADSLNerd posted a reply   
Australia

UPDATE:

Exactly the same issues occured via my PS3 as well. This definately proves a hardware fault somewhere.

Robxr5
4
Rating
 

"Nowhere near good enough for the price"

Robxr5 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Picture quality High Definition 3D

The Bad:Really uncomfortable, Sound, Not what it is claimed to be

First thing to stress is that I do not own one. I happened to be passing the Sony store in Brisbane, and knew they had a trial model in there so thought - why not?

I was looking forward to this given all the claims from Sony and hype from the tech media. First off the store attendant was not particularly concerned with describing the set to me, and telling me what it can do; after giving me a quick run down on how to adjust the headband, earphones, and eye pieces he dissappeared, never to be seen again. I thought maybe this was a sign of things to come.

First off i found the thing heavy. It just would not seem to fit on my head well, and put quite a load on the bridge of the nose. The earphone pad adjustments were vague, and I never really felt as though I was going to get a potentially great audio experience from them due to their loose fit.

After adjusting for eye span, I thought Ok we're off. The Sony 3D Promo Blu Ray which I knew from free-issue with my Sony 3D Player was on the deck, so I was well familiar with the content. I found yes, there was no evidence of 3D ghosting that you experience sometimes from 3D glasses. The definition was good as well, but the field of vision seemed limited - like I was not seeing the whole screen properly - the top edge seemed out of the general field of view - and focus; this may have been an adjustment problem - I don't know. I found the image experience was minimally larger than that experienced from my 55" 3D TV viewed at 3-4 metres. Couple that with the sound and the discomfort, after only 5 minutes I had to rip the head set off before I developed serious face-ache.

I looked at the price tag again, and thought no way would i shell out close to $900 for this thing until they put a bit of thought back into design. $350-$400 may have swung me.

I went to leave the store, and realised on my way out why the Sony retail staff were not following up for a sale - there was an impression that Joe Public was not responding to the product as anticipated; it is a great concept, but Sony need to get it right.

 

winerz posted a comment   
Australia

I actually have one of these, bought it from hong kong and i love every second of it...still don't know how stupid i look wearing one of these but now i look forward to going home to use this awesome piece of gear every night...i found the sound is nowhere near as bad as the review made it out to be. its actually pretty good once it covers your ears. love playing ps3 games on this...its simply out of this world. playing move games with this on was one of the highlights...its so immersive.

 

OmarS1 posted a comment   
Australia

My bad, brain fart...

 

OmarS1 posted a comment   
Australia

" Sony claims that it's like being 20m away from a 750-inch screen", whats Sony got to do with it....?

 

nahbuts posted a comment   
Australia

EBAY COST IS CLOSER TO $1200. WHAT A RIP

 

Rolloxan posted a comment   
Australia

holy crap im keen... how is the content stremaed though? Am I going to be sitting there with my ps3 plugged in to my head?

 

gregory.opera posted a comment   
Australia

I am so totally buying one of these, but at AU$899, I'm gonna have to wait until tax time and/or I can find somewhere that will lay-buy it to me...

 

AaronF posted a reply   
Germany

me and you both buddy, if i get it first ill send u a detailed review ok.

 

BrodieW posted a reply   
Australia

pretty sure thats what CNET's for....




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User Reviews / Comments  Sony Personal 3D Viewer (HMZ-T1)

  • Pickel

    Pickel

    "can't help but feel this would have more potential if it was portable and able to play files from your tablet / smart phone. i, for one, would fine one of these on a plane / train / bus / station ..."

  • ADSLNerd

    ADSLNerd

    "I was meant to try one of these, but he following issue occurred:-

    Firstly, Personal use only - output from Processor box via HDMI to TV - only to the headset.

    1. Connect..."

  • Robxr5

    Robxr5

    Rating4

    "First thing to stress is that I do not own one. I happened to be passing the Sony store in Brisbane, and knew they had a trial model in there so thought - why not?

    I was looking forwar..."

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