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Quick review of the Sony HMZ-T1

#1SamusFarronPosted 12/1/2012 1:31:00 AM
I caved and bought one. Driving home with that box next to me made me feel mildly ashamed. All the good that money could have done.

Then I put it on. All those regrets went away.

What it is -

The HMZ is basically a visor that you strap to your head and produces a massive display for you to feast on. That about sums it up. It uses two 720p 0.7" AMOLED displays, one in each eye, magnified using optics. 3D is one of its biggest selling points, but I will get to that in a bit.

Picture Quality -

The AMOLED's produce a very bright, sharp, detailed image despite only being 720p. In certain scenes, namely scenes with lots of bright whites, the pixels can be minutely visible if you look for them, but by and large the image is nearly flawless. Since 3D is its biggest selling point, and 3D is almost always reproduced in 720p, this isn't a huge issue. The HMZ does an excellent job of scaling 1080p+ content. I haven't tried anything lower resolution, however I am sure it looks nice enough. Color accuracy is very good, though it only reaches a saturation that really "pops" on the 'vivid' display mode. The overall quality is not quite up to par with my Panasonic plasma, but it is close enough to be comfortable.

The image itself is hard to really gauge in terms of size, but I would say that the image has the appearance of about a 150"+ display. To put it simply, it has the appearance of a very large movie theater screen about 15'-20' in front of you. It is very difficult to describe really, as your brain doesn't have any accurate markers for comparison; but the bottom line is that the size of the display you see is sure to impress even the most jaded geek. The extremely solid image quality works to further enhance how great it is to use.

One important thing to note is that if the unit is not centered properly, the edges of the image can blur a bit. This means ensuring a relatively snug fit is important.

3D Quality

The biggest selling point of the HMZ is definitely the 3D. I have a 50" 3D Panasonic Plasma, a display already know for producing some of the best 3D you can get at home, and the 3D effect on the HMZ makes what the Panasonic does almost irrelevant. Thanks to each eye having an independent, sealed off display, crosstalk and ghosting literally do not exist at all. When this is coupled with the absolutely massive size of the display, this becomes arguably one of the most impressive aids to immersion available. Thanks to no glasses needed, the 3D effect is extremely bright and crisp as well; no light is lost on its way to your eyes.

The 3D effect itself is very, very pronounced. Where on my Panasonic a 3D effect might be impressive, on the HMZ it is outright mindblowing. Whether you like 3D or not, you would be hard pressed not to find the effect extremely satisfying in both movies and games on the HMZ.

Sound Quality -

The HMZ has two built in earpieces. They are supposed to emulate surround, as well as provide a very full and boomy effect. They don't. They aren't awful by any means, but they are wholly unimpressive sounding. I never use them, I either use my regular sound system or if I need to be more quiet I use a pair of Astro A50's. The built in earpieces are very adjustable, and can easily be slid out of the way and turned off.
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#2SamusFarron(Topic Creator)Posted 12/1/2012 1:31:23 AM
Setup -

Setup is simple. There is the HMZ itself, and a processing box. The Processing box has an HDMI-In and HDMI-Out on the back. It can pass through the signal even when the HMZ is powered off. I simply daisy chained it after my Receiver but before my display, works great and makes it easy to pull up all content on the HMZ without switching anything. The visor itself tethers to the processor box with a generously long 12' cord, making it easy to keep out of the way.

The processing box has no controls at all. The visor houses the power button, vol+ and vol- for built in sound, and a menu/select button along with a four way circular rocker for navigation. The on screen menu is simple and clean but provides everything needed to adjust the picture as well as a variety of other settings.

Comfort -

At 16oz the visor itself is relatively light, and even for extended use I have never been majorly bothered by it (unlike some, who find it unwearable). The key is to ensure the straps are appropriately set for your head, and that the proper forehead pad is attached (it comes with three). Wearing a beanie hat also helps with comfort. It will probably take a solid hour or more to get everything perfect, but once it is the visor should provide little resistance to your enjoyment.

The 3D is also not as strenuous as on a standard display setup. Since the image is combined exclusively by your brain since there are no glasses, you won't notice much strain. Unlike other glasses free systems (3DS) the effect is clean as each eye is secluded, meaning less strain still.

I'm at the point now where I can strap it on for a solid 3 hours, and it doesn't particularly bother me. Any more than that though, and I think the weight of the unit combined with two AMOLEDS blasting your eyeballs would lead to some notable fatigue.

Summary -

Pros:
-Clean, crisp image quality
-Image is absolutely massive, stunningly so
-Hands down, bar none, the best 3D quality you can get anywhere
-Extraordinarily immersive, breathes new life into movies and games
-Looks cool. Geeky, but still cool. Major Motoko Kusanagi would be proud
-Lightweight and comfortable enough that most people shouldn't be bothered by it

Cons:
-Pixel structure can be visible in certain bright scenes if you look for it
-Some people may find it uncomfortable
-Built in sound is pretty average, at best


Price: $799.00 (and thanks to unilateral pricing, that is what it costs to buy. Period. No sales on this one)

Availability: Sony's online store, Amazon, any authorized Sony dealer or Sony Store.

Any further questions, just ask.
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#3SamusFarron(Topic Creator)Posted 12/1/2012 3:08:37 PM
Neat
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#4OtakuGameraPosted 12/1/2012 3:20:22 PM
looks really sweet

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnbUsgJpKqs
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#5rahmed51387Posted 12/1/2012 3:22:37 PM
I remember checking this out earlier, and wondering if it would actually be as useful outside of the show venue I'd seen it at. I was hoping to try it for myself, but there were other things that took my attention elsewhere.

I don't have $800 to throw down at the moment, but I'm glad to see that it doesn't seem to compromise on the visual quality.
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#6PendragoonPosted 12/1/2012 3:45:54 PM
I want one, especially after seeing the Skyrim PC setup. 3D + Wii Motion Plus + Kinect + Head tracking = Virtual Reality!
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#7SamusFarron(Topic Creator)Posted 12/2/2012 10:26:54 PM
Give this one last bump. This product doesn't have a lot of solid information on the web about it - understandably, as it is an expensive device that lives as simply an auxiliary device. It isn't going to replace a TV, because it can't.

Thinking of doing a youtube review, as there are only a couple of good ones so far.
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#8EseenuzPosted 12/2/2012 10:43:22 PM
[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]