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IFA 2013 first look: Sony HMZ-T3W head-mounted display

Berlin may be awash with giant-sized 4K Ultra HD TVs, but who needs all that hardware when relatively tiny ‘head-mounted displays’ are incoming?

Sony’s attempt to takes your eyes away from 4K is a headset that promises an effective cinema screen size of 750 inches, and bundles in 7.1-channel surround sound, too. 

Known as the HMZ-T3W or simply Head Mounted Display, this is Sony’s third attempt at such a device, though at £1,300 it’s not getting any cheaper.

IFA 2013 first look: Sony HMZ-T3W head-mounted display
Sony’s TMZ-TW3 head-mounted display is a heavy burden

Though still aimed at gamers – it’s rumoured to be unveiled soon as part of the PS4 ecosystem – it’s MHL-ready so can be hooked-up to a smartphone. Its battery, which is about the size of a smartphone, can fuel the HMZ-T3W for six hours, though it can also power-up a smartphone, reducing its life to three hours. 

While it uses WirelessHD to transfer video from smartphone (or games console, Blu-ray player…anything with HDMI), it’s heavy on cables. It’s also just downright heavy; the pair we donned felt like some scaffolding, with a heavy front-end.

We had to get an assistant to help us position it correctly, which is done with a few harnesses on the rear, but they’re crucial because of the picture slips even slightly it’s unwatchable. 

IFA 2013 first look: Sony HMZ-T3W head-mounted displayIFA 2013 first look: Sony HMZ-T3W head-mounted displayIFA 2013 first look: Sony HMZ-T3W head-mounted display

That 750-inch ‘perceived screen’ claim is about right and the wide field of view is impressive, but to put it in perspective – literally – we felt like we were sitting about 15m away from a cinema screen.

It’s a low-res cinema, at that; we weren’t able to witness any 3D antics, but the footage we did get to see was on a visible 1280×720 pixel grid, though the OLED goodness of silky motion held strong. Nor is it a particularly vivid image, and there’s a space at bottom of the HMZ-T3W that creates some distracting brightness. 

For now, the sweet-spot is small and picture quality isn’t good enough to warrant the uncomfortable design, but we’ve no doubt that head-mounted gear like this will eventually catch-on when small, Full HD OLEDs are available.

The final HMZ-T3W product will have in-ear headphones with 16mm drivers said to create 360° audio using a virtual 7.1 surround system. Unfortunately, we were only given separate headphones to for the prototype, so we can’t comment on that.  

The  HMZ-T3W is out in November. 

IFA 2013 reporting, photos and video by Jamie Carter.

 

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