Hands on with Sony’s Personal 3D Viewer

At CES this year, I managed to get some hands on time with a prototype screen device from Sony dubbed the Headman. It was heavy, bulky, and you had...

At CES this year, I managed to get some hands on time with a prototype screen device from Sony dubbed the Headman. It was heavy, bulky, and you had to hold it up against your face, but the image was amazing. Last night, I got some hands on time with the finished product…

Now known as the Personal 3D Viewer, Sony’s private viewing glasses experience has made a number of changes to the prototype I saw at CES in January. First of all, it’s added a head mount, so you can watch 3D content without having to hold the visor up against your eyes. The mount sits fairly comfortably on your head like a pair of swimming goggles, and the viewer feels firmly attached – it’s definitely not going to fall off easily, even though it’s still very front heavy.

The visor does rest a little bit on the bridge of your nose, which can get annoying given the weight of the device. But more annoying is the fact that the visor doesn’t completely cover your eyes like the prototype did. What really impressed me most about the CES version was that it blacked out any outside light, and used its two 0.75-inch OLED screens to create the sense of sitting in an empty cinema with a big screen in front of you.

The updated version, meanwhile, has gaps underneath the screen, so you can see what’s going on around you as well as view what’s on the screen. Although I was testing the device in a dark room, it was noisy and crowded, which proved quite distracting, even though I was playing the new Uncharted game on the viewer.

The headphones conveniently click up and down over both ears, so you can listen to the outside world without having to stop what you’re doing by ly simply rotating one headphone up. It was a nice improvement over the CES version.

But despite all the changes over the CES prototype, the product still has plenty going for it. The picture is impressive, the sound good enough to hear over a room full of people (and a DJ) and the convenience of being able to play a game while your wife watches Masterchef is huge. And despit ethe fact I could see below the screens, the 3D effect didn’t give me a headache, which is something traditional 3D screens tend to do.

Sony Australia still hasn’t committed to launching the Personal 3D Viewer in in Australia, but it has just launched in the US for $US799, realistically meaning a minimum of a $999 pricetag if it launches here. I’m hoping it does – there’s a huge gap in the market for something like this that allows a truly immersive personal entertainment experience.

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Nick Broughall is the Australian Editor of TechRadar.com, where he gets to indulge his passion for geekery and the lastest technology. He is also the Editor of EFTM.com.au, where he gets to indulge his passion for manliness, from sampling fine liquor to the joys of growing a beard. It’s a pretty good life, really.

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