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Sony Personal 3D Viewer
Hands-on with Sony's Personal 3D Viewer

14 Sep 2011 | Rasmus Larsen |

FlatpanelsHD got some hands-on time with Sony’s Personal 3D Viewer helmet that promises immersive 3D and a surround sound experience. But is it any good?

Hands-on with Sony Personal 3D Viewer

Sony’s Personal 3D Viewer - or HMZ-T1 – looks both futuristic and interesting at the same time. Inside the “helmet” Sony has used two OLED panels to create a 3D effect right in front of the viewers’ eyes.

Sony believes that the 3D helmet is an ideal solution for immersive 3D gaming or 3D movie watching. With HDMI inputs in a separate box it easily hooks up to for example PlayStation 3 – and Sony also demonstrated a PS3 setup at IFA in Berlin. You can expect a 3D experience much similar to 3DTVs but with a more focused view according to Sony. Sony says that the 3D Viewer is just like watching a “750-inch screen from a distance of 20 meters”.

Sony Personal 3D Viewer
Sony Personal 3D Viewer

Let us start by saying that the product is not exactly comfortable. First of all you need to make it fit correctly in front of your eyes and on your face. It is not heavy but I felt that lying down would probably be the only way to enjoy this in the long run.

The two OLED screens are not located right in front of your eyes. Instead, Sony has created a mirror setup that projects the pictures in a way to ensure that eye-strain is avoided. The 3D experience is good and 3D depth is great. I saw no crosstalk – even in high-contrast pictures – and the OLED panels are the reason.

Sony Personal 3D Viewer
Sony Personal 3D Viewer

But I also have to say that the immersive experience that I had hoped for failed to happen. Sony’s claim of 750-inch screen from a distance of 20 meters is a bold one and I did not feel this way at all. The screens actually look quite small and too small for a truly immersive 3D picture experience. Also, if the helmet slides a bit to the side, the screens appear fuzzy – actually the edges of the screens appeared a bit fuzzy no matter what I did. It is hard to describe but it looks a lot like mirror rides in amusement parks. You can certainly see that the screens use mirrors to project images.

Sony Personal 3D Viewer
Sony Personal 3D Viewer

It was hard to hear the speakers in the crowded fair hall. The only thing I want to say here is that it sounded very similar to Sony’s existing “surround sound” headsets. None of us experienced headache after using the 3D Viewer, and that was a surprise because most previous “Virtual Reality” helmets provoked headache. I guess it is due to the mirrors.

To sum it up, I never felt the wow-effect I had hoped for. The 3D experience and 3D depth is good but not better than on a large-size 3DTV. Personally I would prefer the latter when it comes to 3D.

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