Just when you though the next best thing with video will be an even larger screen, companies have started testing the waters for a whole new segment - the personal video player. While music went personal with the Walkman over three decades ago, video is taking this turn quite late in life. Within a month two companies have launched personal video players in India, both capable of playing FullHD video with 3D. A look at the two devices.
THE 3D STAR
The Sony HMZ-T2 has a very sci-fi look to it, as if it is something out of an Isaac Asimov novel. Well, it is cutting edge, no doubt. In fact, this has to be the best rendering of 3D for a consumers at the moment. But this one is just a personal video viewer, though a very good one at that.
HOW IT WORKS
The design is a bit like a thick sun visor, but worn in front of the eye. You need to adjust the strap on the back and the pad in front to get a perfect fit. Unless the device is in perfect position, you cannot see anything on the small LCD screen inside. But once you start seeing the image, you have adjustments under each eye to get the image in perfect position. The device also has a power button, volume controls and menu buttons with arrows to select.
There is a catch though. You need a Blu-ray player - or some other HDMI source - along with a pass through box to see anything on the HMZ-T2. This in many ways relegated the device to something you will have to keep near your TV, or at least wherever the Blu-ray player is. So portability is not a feature here.
HOW GOOD IS IT
Picture quality is certainly the USP here. The 3D, for instance, is much superior than anything you will get to see in a theatre or in your expensive 3D television. This is truly immersive 3D. The sound is real good, but to experience that you will need to plug in a better earphone than the one that comes in the box. Another good thing about the device is that you can control the playback from the eyepiece and don't need to turn to the Blu-player remote for everything. The menu also gives you device settings, and make sure that you use this to switch on 3D display which is not default. We guess it will work superbly as a gaming device connected to a PS3 or Xbox. To connect to the Internet or to play files from a USB you will have to rely on the player completely.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
The HMZ-T2 is an excellent video viewer and really scores a 10/10 with its 3D. However, that fact that it needs life support from a Blu-ray player or gaming console reduces its practicality a bit. In the end you will need a dedicated space to enjoy this device.
EPSON MOVERIO BT-100
Not much larger than large-size sun glasses, this device gloats over its compactness. In fact, its controller and playback device is not much larger than a smartphone and, not surprisingly, runs an Android operating system. The eyepiece has nose cushions and L-shaped angles that can be used to adjust the position for people using spectacles. The latter can also take the load of your nose by shifting the device weight to the spectacle frame. There are drop down earphones on both sides, a stop button on the main wire and volume controls on the box. Content can be downloaded to the 1GB internal storage or to a MicroSD card for which there is a slot on the device.
HOW IT WORKS
The eye piece is transparent, and you can see through it when the device has not been powered on. But when Moverio is working, two small LCD panels light up inside. Viewed together they give an image, that is similar to the large screen you have in a movie theatre. You also get a perception of distance, as if you were sitting a dozen rows away from the screen. But since the rest of the eye piece continues to be transparent, you can view what is happening around you as well. This is good to the extent that you are not completely cut off from the surroundings, but on the flip side it is a bit hard to concentrate on the image if the ambient light is too strong.
HOW GOOD IS IT
It takes about a minute for your eye to adjust to the image in the eye piece, but after that it is unbridled viewing pleasure. At times you feel as if there is a vague line where the two images are meeting, but it does not affect the quality of the overall image. However, the same is more prominent if you are trying to browse the Web through Wi-FI. Yes, thanks to the Android 2.2 OS, this device can do pretty much everything your smartphone does and that includes browsing. This is not that easy as you have to use the touchpad and arrow keys on the controller to type on the virtual keyboard. But it works and we streamed some HD video from YouTube. The other great thing about the device is the Dolby Mobile surround sound that adds to the overall immersive experience. There is 3D too - even a 2D to 3D convert button, but we felt it lacked a bit of throw though the depth was good. The battery is good for at least four hours after a regular recharge.
SHOULD YOU BUY IT?
If you are movie junky and an early adapter for technology this is a great device to have. It gives you the kind of movie viewing experience no large screen or home theatre system can replicate. Plus, as we were fearing, it is not a pain on the nose.