It's the early 1990s all over again! Sony revealed today that it is launching a new head-mounted display, able to screen both 2D and 3D. Ready to barf? Aw, come on. It won't be that bad.
Sony showed off the display at this year's CES in Las Vegas, complete with added Tron glowing. At that time, like so many things at CES, it was a tech demo, and there didn't seem to be any plans from Sony to actually put the the headset into production.
Sony is actually launching the product this fall in Japan. You can buy it. No, really.
Called the Head Mounted Display Personal 3D Viewer HMZ-T1 (needs a sexier name), the contraption has two 720p OLED screens that promise to immerse viewers in 3D and surround sound. At CES, apparently, Sony had to measure people's heads to get the viewing angle just right, while others complained that you needed to hold up the display with your hands so it didn't fall down.
It's all a little goofy looking and has an updated whiff of something out of Johnny Mnemonic or The Lawnmower Man. Then again, don't all head-mounted displays?
It is slick-looking, and kudos to Sony for taking something that so obviously screams PROTOTYPE and putting it on sale. Doing so harks back to the Sony of yore, the company that would develop techy, impressive hardware that didn't always make sense as a consumer product and wasn't necessarily a hit, but you were glad that Sony produced it anyway. This is the company that used to make and sell robotic dogs.
The display does bring back bad Virtual Boy memories. That head-mounted 3D gaming system was a notorious Nintendo failure, known to make consumers ill. People might get ill from this Sony head-mounted display. No biggie. People get sick in cars, too, and from too much candy. And who doesn't like cars and candy? Jerks, that's who.
Website AV Impress Watch recommends tightening the headband while using this display for PS3 gaming, and notes that people tend to move while playing video games. Excessive movement could cause the player to lose the 3D gaming sweetspot.
What' remarkable is that Sony is actually launching this, let's be honest, goofy product just as things continue to get crappier and crappier in Japan. This is the Sony people came to know and love, the one that takes chances, the one that is willing to dazzle, surprise, and even shock.
As stated in an official release, the Head Mount Display Person 3D Viewer HMZ-T1 will go on sale November 11. The price is listed as being "open", but Sony expects the headset to retail for ¥60,000 (US$784). I expect it to be a spectacular failure, but one that will show this: Sony hasn't lost its tech mojo.