Cool Idea, Bad Execution!
Written: Oct 15, 2000 (Updated Oct 15, 2000)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:State of the Art, Lightweight, Just plain cool
Cons:Poor resolution, too many parts
The Sony Glasstron PLM-A35 Personal Portable Theater system is one of the neatest idea's that I have seen. I was so enthusiastic when I saw it written up in Wired Magazine that I ordered one immediately. (As a note, it was $350 at Onvia.com, the least expensive place around.)
The glasses weigh just 3.4oz and once you slip them on it is the equivalent of watching a 52-inch projection TV, and the ear-buds provide crisp, high-fidelity sound. They accept just about any video source from TV, DVD, VCR, Nintendo/Sega/Playstation, to computers.
I opened the box and discovered three long cables with multiple attachments and two large boxes (one attached to the goggles and one attached to the power cord.) Connecting everything was simple, but I immediately realized this isnt what you would call a "portable" system. The ear buds hang out in an annoying fashion, but the sound is truly excellent and provides accurate surround-sound.
Once you have adjusted your eyes to looking into the glasses, the screen is quite large, but you cannot escape thinking that it really is just an illusion. Part of the problem is that the glasses do not encompass your eyes, so there is a large amount of peripheral vision and you can see 30% of the room. The gaps let in a lot of light too, which detracts from the viewing. Of course, if you put a black sweater over your head, the experience is more immersing, but if you move, the glasses with become unseated. The screen only has 180,000 pixels too. This isnt nearly enough to provide a cystal clear picture, and the pixelated picture is frustrating because it leaves you wanting to know what it is like on the regular TV. Resolution for computer input maxes out at 800x600 and is of terrible quality. In my opinion, Sony is on the right track but it needs much improvement.
Also, as I quickly read through the instructions I became worried about the adverse consequences which the use of this product could have on my eyesight. In multiple areas the manual states that you should not use the product for extended periods of time and the unit even shuts itself off after 3hrs. It also warns that excessive use could lead to temporary loss of vision or even blindness. Of course, while these symptoms might be very unlikely, Sony needs a disclaimer so that they cannot be sued in such a rare instance.
Lastly, the remote box is attached to the visor and cannot be detached which makes transporting the glasses even more inconvenient. The remote controls are limited and are hard to use while you are watching. A change to a smaller control like the jog-dials on MiniDisc players should be implemented in their next version.
Overall, the Sony Glasstron is an excellent idea, but it is still in the beginning stages of becoming a truly versatile piece of technology.
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