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IFA is nothing if not a hotbed of crazy new tech, but probably the most arresting image to emerge from this year’s show is the sight of bemused visitors struggling to clasp Sony’s astonishing HMZ-T1 Personal 3D Viewer to their head.why-sony-s-personal-3d-viewer-is-game-changing

Grimly futuristic, the white plastic visor with luminous blue power light looks more like a prop out ofFringe than a 3D display. No wonder folks fought to wear it – if only for a few minutes.

Thankfully, we got to spend rather more time with it. And although one of our writers felt the unit was a little bulky, I liked what I saw.

The HMZ-T1 is not the first time Sony’s developed a heads up display. Back in 1997 the company touted the Glasstron, a viewer which looked very similar. It was standard def, of course, but utilised a motion tracker which changed the viewing perspective depending on how the wearer moved.

The concept was ultimately abandoned, as Sony’s Masahiro Miura, explains “because it could not compensate for the amount of money invested in R&D.”

It’s a fate Sony’s boffins say won’t happen to the new 3D viewer. “The move to HD and 3D offers a lot more potential,” says Miura.

It looks like Sony’s HUD division is back in business.

The visor unwrapped

The HMZ-T1 Personal 3D Viewer features two OLED panels made by Sony’s semiconductor division. According to Yoshinori Matsumoto, from Sony’s Home Entertainment Business Group, the 0.7 inch (18mm diagonal) panels “have a resolution of 350,000 pixels and are closely related to the OLED electronic viewfinders found in the new Alpha 77 and NEX-77 cameras.” Definition is comparable to 720p HD.

OLED production is notorious for high wastage and prompted Sony to put development on the back burner when it began to tighten its corporate belt, but Matsumoto-san says that while the technology is still fraught with production challenges, “yields are definitely getting better.” In short, OLED is back in favour.

HMZ-T1

BEHIND THE SCREENS: Sony’s 3D Viewer gurus Yoshinori Matsumoto (left) and Masahiro Miura (right)

As a 3D experience, the HMZ-T1 creates a unique sense of depth. Watching the latest 3D trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man (with all its POV building jumps) proves almost vertigo inducing.

OLED panels are much faster than their LCD equivalents and as a result there’s no overlap between the left and right hand images. Significantly, this means no crosstalk double imaging. They’re also capable of extremely high contrast. The panels incorporate an ingenious colour separation filter on top of a standard white organic layer, which creates vibrant colours.

The panels are also angled at 45 degrees within the headset. Matsumoto-san says this helps create the illusion of sitting in the stalls of a movie theatre. He says the virtual image equates to a 750-inch cinema screen.

The integrated sound system in the HMZ-T1 adds much to this illusion. It uses Sony’s Virtualphones audio processing to create a convincing sense of surround.

A weight on the mind

Of course all the associated electronics make the HMZ-T1 rather heavy, and keeping the unit on your face is an ongoing challenge. To lock the 3D viewer in place, there’s a plastic headstrap and forehead rest. Many of the demo models at IFA lacked the former, much to the consternation of those trying them out.

We found that while the headstrap supports the weight of the visor quite successfully, there is still a gravitational tug that tends to pull the device down your nose. Consequently, there’s an instinctive urge to tip your head back. Quite whether you would want to do this the duration of an entire movie remains to be seen.

It’s worth pointing out that the 3D viewer is not battery powered and must be tethered to a switching box for power and pictures. Any HDMI source can be connected.

hmz-t1

NO WIRES? He may look cool but he’s seeing nothing – the HMZ-T1 has to be linked to a switching unit for pictures and power

While the team from Sony couldn’t confirm if using the HMZ-T1 would help those prone to 3D headaches, we think it could transform the entertainment options for those confined to bed rest. Personal 3D viewers on the NHS would certainly get our vote.

The gaming option

While Sony’s team wouldn’t officially commit to a UK price point, the impression given at IFA was that units will sell for around £800.

Of course the HMZ-T1 is not just about watching movies. The system has the potential to be a kick-ass gaming peripheral too.

There are a growing number of stereoscopic titles available from the PlayStation network and when hooked up to a PS3 for a quick gaming session, the HMZ-T1’s paired OLED screens proved incredibly fast and responsive.

Suddenly 3D gaming began to verge on virtual reality. At this point we began to get very excited. Time to move beyond regular 3D?

The HMZ-T1 release date is expected to be this December.

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Sony’s firstAndroid-powered tablets are finally available to pre-order in the U.K. Dixons is the first retailer to offer the Tablet S, advertising a September 16 release date and a £399 (approx.$642) price tag which exactly matches that of the iPad. The Tablet P is available to pre-order direct from Sony and is priced at £499 (approx. $803).

Just like the iPad, the Tablet S boasts 16GB of internal storage, but has a slightly smaller 9.4-inch display. That £399 price tag is for the Wi-Fi only version, but for an extra £100 (approx. $161), you can get the 3G-capable model. As far as its other internals go, Sony’s first tablet gives the iPad some stiff competition:

Sony Tablet S Specs

  • Android Honeycomb 3.1
  • 9.4-inch display (1280 × 800)
  • NVIDIA 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 16GB storage (up to 32GB)
  • 3G (optional)
  • 5-megapixel rear-facing camera
  • 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera
  • PlayStation Certified
  • Infra-red remote control
  • microSD card reader
  • Mini HDMI port

If you don’t mind Google’s Android operating system, I think there are a number of reasons why you might choose the Tablet S over Apple’s iPad. While the Tablet S boasts a similar 1GHz dual-core CPU, it also boasts double the RAM at 1GB; has a built-in Infra-red port for controlling your TV, Blu-ray player and HiFi; and has a much better camera. And then there’s that PlayStation Certification: If you’re a gamer, access to a library of PlayStation games has got to be a tantalizing prospect.

Its biggest Android rival will undoubtedly be Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1. Both devices boast the same NVIDIA CPU, 1GB of RAM, and the Android Honeycomb OS. However, a number of recent legal spats with Apple has seen the Galaxy Tab banned in parts of Europe, and could pave the way for the Sony tablet’s success.

Sony S2 Tablet

As for the Tablet P, this is the clamshell device that sports two 5.5-inch displays that fold closed. It also featured the same NVIDIA CPU, but only 512MB of RAM, a microSD card reader, Wi-Fi, and 3G as standard. This device also boasts PlayStation Certification.

Do either of Sony’s new tablets get you excited?

 

As seen on Technobuffalo.com

Sony has revealed the specifications and launch dates for its two forthcoming tablet devices, Sony Tablet S and Sony Tablet P.

Although both are Android-based, Sony’s tablets are quite different from the other Android tablets on

the market, which generally follow the iPad‘s design philosophy.

Sony Tablet P sports a foldable design, with two 5.5-inch screens, 4 GB of storage space, a NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and Wi-Fi/3G connectivity. Tablet P can be described as a pocket tablet, measuring 79 x 180 x 26mm and weighing only 327 grams. We like how Sony is breaking new ground here, and we’re eager to see whether the market will embrace this novel design.

Sony Tablet S has a more standard slate design, but unlike most other tablets on the market, it’s thicker on one end than the other. It has a 9.4-inch display, a NVIDIA Tegra 2 CPU and Wi-Fi/3G connectivity. It’s also very light, weighing approximately 598 grams. It will come with either 16 GB or 32 GB of storage.

Both will be available as Wi-Fi-only or Wi-Fi/3G devices, the former coming with Android 3.2, and the later with Android 3.1, although an upgrade is planned for the future. Also, both will come with a 5-megapixel rear and a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera, a USB 2.0 port and an SD card slot.

Sony squeezed a couple extra features into its new tablets. Both devices will have a 3-axis accelerometer, a gyro sensor, a digital compass and an ambient light sensor. Tablet S will come with infrared remote control functionality. Both are compatible with Sony’s Media Remote technology, which allows you to control Sony devices, including ones from the BRAVIA line, through Wi-Fi.

Finally, both devices are “PlayStation Certified,” meaning you’ll be able to play original games such as Crash Bandicoot and Pinball Heroes on your tablet.

Sony Tablet S will be available in the UK at Sony Centres, Currys & PC World and John Lewis in mid-Sept., with pre-orders beginning Aug. 31 at www.sony.co.ukwww.currys.co.uk and www.pcworld.co.uk. Sony Tablet P is scheduled for a November 2011 release.

 

As seen on Mashable.com

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