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Vuzix Widescreen Video Headset Land In UK

Gordon Kelly

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Vuzix Widescreen OLED Video Headsets Land In UK

I suspect we're on the cusp of another sea change in technology folks, and this time it involves eye wear...

Nope, we're not turning into a fashion site (you've seen us on TrustedReviews Video, right?) instead we're talking about video glasses. Now those of you with good memories will know where we're going here as Vuzix was featured on TR in April and now the company is back, keen to show us its latest wears (pun most definitely intended) as well as give us a sneak peek into the future.

Ok, first the present as this week sees the launch of the 'AV310' (top) and 'AV230XL' (bottom) - two new headsets which for the first time bring native 16:9 widescreen viewing to the company's range and simultaneously dispel the myth that too much TV will give you square eyes... (apologies)

The AV230XL also employs an OLED display meaning brighter, higher contrast screens and also a dramatic reduction in power draw which drags its stamina up to seven hours on the single AA battery (the AV310 still manages an impressive five hours). As for the virtual screen sizes themselves, you'll see a whopping 52 inches from the AV310's and a non-too shabby 44 inches from the AV230XL - a darn site better than having to hold your PMP a few inches from your nose for two hours.

Like existing Vuzix models, the duo also work with any device capable of TV Out meaning, iPods, iPhones, numerous handsets (notably smartphones) and even the Nintendo Wii will all play nice. As for pricing, at £129.99 (AV230XL) and £149.99 (AV310) your wallets are not in for quite the heavy hit you might've expected.

So, to the future! At yesterday's briefing TR also got a sneaky look at the company's plans for next year via a mysterious Pulp Fiction/Marcellus Wallis-style security case. No photography was allowed unfortunately, but the products - due for launch at CES in January (yours' truly will be there) - had form factors virtually indistinguishable from standard sunglasses as well as see through lenses so they could be worn walking down the street. No time frame (pun not intended) however for the 2009 release was mentioned.

Talking then progressed to the notion of virtual avatars (think Golden Compass), as well as some quite head-spinning conversation about Terminator-esque head's up displays (think: never forget that person's name again; singled/coupled-up identifiers for people in bars, etc...) but I'll stop here, because it all gets a little Top Secret...

Links:

AV310 Product Page

AV230XL

Matt G Baish

November 14, 2008, 9:07 pm

Hey I guess they got to start somewhere but (from site):


"Twin high-resolution 428 x 240 widescreen (WQVGA) LCD displays"


"Equivalent to 52" screen viewed from 9 feet" (through a jamjar?)


is going to look pants surely?

Gordon394

November 14, 2008, 10:34 pm

Not in the slightest, in fact your logic is the wrong way around as the proportional screen size/pixel density is actually higher than HD. They look rather good.

TheFlyingGerbil

November 15, 2008, 8:57 pm

If it is twin screened (one for each eye?) does that mean you can use them for stereoscopic 3D?

Gordon394

November 16, 2008, 6:32 am

Yep!

SK13d

November 16, 2008, 9:41 pm

428 x 240 stretched to "the equivalent of 52 inches" will look just as bad whether you're looking at a 52 inch screen 9 feet away, or a 1 inch screen 1 inch away. The fact remains that you've got a limited number of pixels being stretched to the same arc of the user's vision.





The omission of the actual pixel count in the article, and the subsequent flawed defense by Gordon begins to confirm something I've been noticing about this site for a while: The news stories (not the reviews) on this site are beginning to feel more and more like advertising rather than impartial reporting.

Gordon394

November 17, 2008, 5:08 am

@ SK - thanks for that, much appreciated - glad to see you HAVE tried these out... oh I forget, you HAVEN'T and I have...





Given that you clearly can't understand the biological differences it makes looking into a 1in screen closely for a 'virtual 52in' image compared to true 52in LCD I feel rather depressed.





And you're mistaken, the most worrying aspect on this site is the comments moderation...

Keldon

November 17, 2008, 6:24 am

The AV230 XL product page linky from the article mentions a SEVENTEEN hour life not seven :) that makes these alot more attractive, very very tempted to get a pair!

Gordon394

November 17, 2008, 8:06 am

@Keldon - be careful, I'll check that directly with the company for you as looking back at our official launch details pack it clearly states SEVEN hours.

SK13d

November 17, 2008, 12:15 pm

@ Gordon. How very mature of you.





I merely made what I hoped would be a constructive criticism regarding missing details in articles. I've been reading this site for years and this is something which has slowly been increasing recently.





As for the intricacies of human vision, you seem to be saying that a small screen very close to the eyes isn't quite the same as a big screen far off. If that's the case, I'm interested to hear what those differences are.

Keldon

November 17, 2008, 4:54 pm

Thanks gordon but it looks like the answer is, Both! seven and seventeen... to quote the product page :)





"Works for up to 7 hours with an alkaline battery or 17 hours with a single lithium"





Guess I missed that the first time.

Gordon394

November 17, 2008, 4:59 pm

That does help! I did sent the question back to Vuzix though so we'll see if any extra info on this comes through.

Gordon394

November 17, 2008, 5:20 pm

@SK - errrr, if you haven't noticed: technology has been getting BETTER in recent years correcting our gripes and generally becoming more competent all round. I even famously ranted about this as a developing trend in 2005:


http://www.trustedreviews.com/...





Guess what... it developed!





I'll happily have a go at products where clearly deserved (harder when you're often talking in theoretical terms about impending kit than when there's a review unit in front of you) but otherwise I take the time to point out potential plus points as well as the potholes or concerns.





The fact you get analysis and opinion in the news section is a bonus you clearly take for granted. 90% of most news coverage around this great Interweb of ours is nothing but straight description.





If hearing that we're impressed with something more regularly these days as tech improves doesn't make you as happy as hearing we're irritated by inept cackhandedness there's nothing I can do about that, but do not question my integrity.

Riyad

November 17, 2008, 5:41 pm

I had a play with a Vuzix headset a while back, and I wasn't as enthusiastic as Gordon. However, all this does is highlight how different people react differently. I suffer terribly from migraine headaches, and I'm yet to find any kind of headset that doesn't kick off a migraine attack within minutes.





Gordon on the other hand had no problem with this technology, and I therefore have to assume that there are many people out there who will be greatly impressed with the technology, even if I'm not one of them.





For me though, the biggest problem with this tech, is that watching TV should (to some extent at least) be a social activity. It's fun to curl up on the sofa with your partner, or some mates in front of a 50in screen and enjoy a movie. Sitting down with someone and putting a headset on, isn't quite the same. Although I guess if you're on a train or a plane it has merit.





As for the actual resolution, SK is right to a certain extent. The resolution will be a limiting factor, and that&#8217s something that I pointed out to Vuzix when I spoke to them. Personally I&#8217d want at least an HD Ready resolution, if not a Full HD one. As it stands, even standard definition PAL content is being downscaled, due to the maximum 480 lines (assuming that an interlaced image is being created with half sent to each eye).

June

November 17, 2008, 6:55 pm

I'm dazzled by all your negative speculation about pixel count, and other spec related analysis, but the proof is in the pudding for me! Bottom line is that I use Vuzix goggles for watching BBC iPlayer, which really works well on my shiny new N96 and it's great. I also look at video podcasts and best of YouTube from my iPod Touch - sometimes at home and sometimes away. I had some earlier video glasses from others, and you are right. Small screen bad quality, etc. The last year has brought improvements...


BTW, no headaches yet! (well, not from this anyway)

Gordon394

November 17, 2008, 7:44 pm

Official word back from Vuzix, which should answer a few questions:





"With a lithium AA battery, it is actually possible to get up to 17 (seventeen) hours of battery life. Shocking, huh?"





And regarding the optics: "When you look at a small screen up close, your eyes must cross to a certain extent in order to converge on the image. Over time, this leads to strain and tiredness of the muscles and tendons responsible for eye location. Our optics place the focal plane at a distance of 3 meters, which means that your eyes are looking more straight ahead, and converging together in a much more comfortable spot, which allows significantly more comfort during viewing, as well as the ability to view for longer."

Keldon

November 17, 2008, 9:40 pm

Thanks for the update Gordon, think I had best shoot santa an email now then if I want these on Xmas!

Matt G Baish

December 5, 2008, 5:08 pm

Any chance that we can get a definitive answer re: the resolution - I just don't get Gordon's argument re pixel density being better than HD at all.





"proportional screen size/pixel density is actually higher than HD"?; do you mean the density on the chip is greater than HD? If so then, well yes obviously since the screens are so small! A phone with a crappy VGA camera in it will have a sensor with a pixel density of many times greater than HD but that isn`t the point surely, Shirely? Its the pixel density over the virtual screen size that matters - i.e. WQVGA = not brilliant.





Look I'm not totally knocking these - I just wanted confirmation that they aint HD (or even close to SD for that matter).





Ta, Matt :)

itsamatteroftrust

April 24, 2009, 6:07 pm

I think it's sort of like with HDTV's the received resolution ends up lower with greater distance (further back you are, the less defined the image will be). That's part of why you have to sit so close to a computer monitor (low pixel pitch). However, for watching video the native resolution is more important than the actual resolution. 480p will look terrible on a 1080p set, but will look wonderful on a 480p set or even 720p set. This is because the individual pixels contrast more fully and create a higher quality image. This is why a relatively low resolution projector (provided it's a good brand) can still look great on a 80-100" screen. So even though this is low resolution, the fact that it simulates a tv seen from 3 meters away means that it should still look great for video. It can be confusing given the current 1080p fad to misunderstand what high definition means. Things have been labelled high definition for some time now (other than tv's and movies) and all it means is that the clarity stands out. I haven't seen these glasses myself, but I would assume since they're OLED instead of LCD screens they're pretty high quality.

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