Sony Gets 3D TV All Up In Your Face

There’s been a deluge of 3D technology hitting the market the past couple of years, but Sony’s new gadget is by far the most…interesting? Questionable? Futuristic? Nerdy? I’m not sure what to call it, but according to Sony, the HMZ-T1 is ready to launch and attach itself to your head.

The Sony Head Mounted Display ‘Personal 3D Viewer,’ or HMZ-T1, is the world’s first wearable 3D display. It’s a large piece of headgear featuring a set of headphones and two 0.7” HD OLED panels – one for the left eye, and one for the right eye. This ‘Dual Panel 3D Method’ is how the headgear creates the 3D images that you’ll be viewing (watching 2D images is also possible with the HMZ-T1). External light is carefully shielded out, so when you’re wearing the HMZ-T1 you are almost literally in another world – whatever movie you’re watching or game you’re playing is all you’ll be seeing. If you want immersion, it doesn’t get any better than the HMZ-T1.

0.7” displays don’t sound like much, but when they are that close to your eyes, it makes them seem just a little bigger. How much bigger? Sony says the viewing experience is akin to watching a movie on a 750” projector at a distance of 20 meters. And, thanks to the dual panel system for 3D images, the content you’ll be watching will appear incredibly bright and crisp – no crosstalk or ghosts. You really will feel like you’re part of the action – the promised viewing angle is the maximum possible for human vision – 200 degrees, compared to the 45 we’re used to when we watch movies on a traditional screen.

Of course, the audio will be up to snuff, too, providing virtual surround sound that replicates a movie theater experience – or, I guess in this case, replicates the feeling of actually being in whatever movie you’re watching or game you’re playing. Four different surround sound modes will be available – Standard, Cinema, Game, and Music.

The device connects to a processor unit via an HDMI cable. This processor unit is a must, so don’t count on the HMZ-T1 being mobile. The processor then connects to whatever device is playing the media content – your television, computer, game console, or whatever else has HDMI output. The device also goes to sleep automatically when you aren’t wearing it.

The HMZ-T1 is anything but social. By definition, it strips away any social aspect of gaming or movie watching – you are completely shut off to the world while you are using the HMZ-T1. That, and the back strap reminds me a little of the orthodontic headgear some unlucky kids had to wear back in sixth grade, but early reviews have lauded the device’s comfort, thanks to a robust set of adjustments you can make, and ample padding.

Most importantly, though – this can’t be good for your eyes. Given the eyesight and headache issues raised by users of 3D TVs and the Nintendo 3DS, a device like this begs the question of safety. You have two incredibly bright HD screens literally within inches of your face, for hours at a time. We’ll have to see if any problems start cropping up with this device.

Regardless, if you want the final word in immersion when it comes to enjoying your media, the Sony Head Mounted Display ‘Personal 3D Viewer’ is the only choice. If you want to start traveling to new worlds, instead of just watching them from afar, strap on the HMZ-T1 and watch the real world vanish. The 3D headgear of the future will cost around $800, and will be available sometime during the fourth quarter of this year. Just pretend it doesn’t remind you of the Virtual Boy, and everything should be OK.

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