There have been many dubious products manufactured on the rocky road to true innovation over the years. Before the mobile phone reached mass-market saturation, yuppies lugged around lumps of plastic that were closer to army field radios than items of desirable personal technology.
Once, Sony marketed the infamous shoulder-mounted â€˜ghetto blasterâ€™ as the perfect portable music companion, before kick-starting a whole industry with the very first Walkman.
And of course there have been numerous attempts at making TV or movie-watching portable, from those unwatchable pocket LCD TVs of the eighties and nineties to the portable (and more practical) DVD players and laptops of today. Leadtekâ€™s Xeye headset, the company claims, is the next step in the evolution of the â€˜personal cinemaâ€™.
It places two tiny OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) screens, one in front of each eye, each with individual focus controls and diopter adjustments to create the illusion that you are watching one enormous screen. But this device is the size of a pair of sunglasses â€“ a fairly ugly pair of sunglasses it has to be said, but almost as portable and compact. Thereâ€™s even a pair of in-ear headphones wired into the arms to complete the cocoon-of-entertainment effect.
It certainly sounds a tempting prospect. After all, why would you want to squint at a mere 12in laptop screen to watch a movie while youâ€™re on the train or plane when you can have the equivalent of a 50in cinema display in your pocket?
Well the answer is because the technology isnâ€™t there yet, not on the evidence of this product anyway. And even if you can get past the fact that using one of these makes you look like Geordie Laforge on a bad visor day, there are a multitude of impracticalities that put the kybosh on the Xeyeâ€™s likelihood of success.
First of all, the thing is just plain uncomfortable. Rather than simply hooking the arms over your ears as you might with normal shades or glasses the Xeyeâ€™s arms curve out to the side forcing you to sit them on top of your ears, which doesnâ€™t make it a particularly stable or secure fit â€“ one shake of the head and the hefty view unit at the front soon starts to wobble.