Review Price £519.00
A key attraction of the Epson Moverio BT-100 above other video glasses is that it lets you do much more than watch video. Running Android 2.2 FroYo, it's equally-capable of letting you browse the web, play games and apps.
Using most of this extra content requires some fiddling, though. There's no app store pre-installed, and none of the Google apps Android phone users will be familiar with feature - Mail, Maps and so on. The BT-100 lets you use both standard Android homescreens and a custom multi-page 3D app carousel, but to start with they're very sparsely populated.
This is the extent of the BT-100 custom Android UI
To install software beyond the no-frills media player and web browser, you need to manually hunt down .apk installation files using your computer or the BT-100's browser (we recommend using your computer). Once downloaded you have to seek them out using the inbuilt file browser to install - again the Moverio BT-100 fails to provide the silky-smooth ride you might expect of a £500 product.
There are other problems you are likely to encounter post-installation too. It doesn't force a landscape aspect ratio in apps and games, usually handled by an Android tablet/phone's accelerometer - something the BT-100 lacks. Using the custom-install 1Mobile Market to find apps to try, we had to navigate with the view on its side, which was less than ideal.
Performance was also unimpressive given the dual-core processor. Casual games dropped frames and, as FroYo is an old version of the Android platform, app support may start to wane. Epson can of course counter these claims saying that the BT-100 doesn't officially support these third-party apps, but its built-in media functions are frankly not good enough to stand up by themselves.
Its benchmark score is on-par with budget dual-core tablets only
However, the web browsing experience is decent enough. The control box offers Wi-Fi and the browser supports Flash, so you can watch online videos and such like. This is something missing from some lower-powered Android devices. Also, the combination of laptop-style trackpad and navigational D-pad makes flicking through web pages fairly quick and comfortable.
It is not without caveat, though. Typing-in web addresses and search terms is slow and frustrating, relying on the trackpad and virtual keyboard. Using it reminds of quite how easy browsing with a touchscreen is - a comparison with the iPad is particularly pertinent here, both devices costing several hundred pounds and are perfect for a flight - the iPad wins out here.
The BT Moverio BT-100 also loses points because it doesn't have the juice to last a full transatlantic haul. We found the battery lasts between five and six hours, which isn't bad and is enough for two or three films but it falls short of many tablets. Then again wearing the BT-100 will get uncomfortable after a couple of hours anyway, due to its less-than-perfect weight distribution.
If you absolutely must watch video that people nearby will find offensive, or that you are embarrassed of, the BT Moverio BT-100 are better than most of the currently-available rivals we've tried out. Image quality, while sub-HD, is good enough to make film-watching enjoyable.
Too many elements make it feel like a work in progress effort, though. 3D implementation is poor, codec support is far too basic and there haven't been enough optimisations made to Android to make it feel right in this context. Although it's a step forward for video glasses, it's a baby step in an area that has a half-marathon to run.
The Epson Moverio BT-100 are the best video glasses we've reviewed. But that's not saying much. Image quality is sub-HD but otherwise offers decent contrast and colour and, including an Android-powered control box, it comes with everything you need to get going. However, limited software optimisation, poor video codec support and so-so comfort ensure that, like most video glasses, they're a curio for those with money to burn.
Scores In Detail
- Build Quality