Gadget Show Live 2009: Vuzix video goggles reviewed

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Vuzix VR920.jpgThe idea of wearing goggles to view TV, video games etc. isn’t new. But at the Gadget Show Live 2009 Vuzix showed a full range of affordable glasses, starting at just £149. The concept is simple. By transmitting a stereo image that appears right in front of your eyeballs, it’s possible to recreate the experience of watching a big screen from several feet away. But what are these space age glasses actually like? We tried three of the four latest models mainly on video content – for a review of the top of the range pair you can watch Duncan’s review here. Read on for the verdict.

iWear AV230 XL – Entry level goggles costing £149. Equivalent to watching a 44 inch screen from 9ft away. Picture quality is OK, but pixels are visible (it is only QVGA quality with 230,000 pixels). Also ambient light, especially in bright conditions, disrupts viewing – you definitely need the immersive light shield Vuzix supplies.

iWear AV310 – A widescreen version of the above. Picture quality is much the same but the 16:9 viewing format is a definite improvement. Set to retail for £179.

iWear AV920 – Offers a definite step up in terms of picture quality thanks to VGA resolution (920,000 pixels). I watched both 2D and 3D video content via an iPod and thought it was OK. The only downside is that this model requires a larger Lithium Ion battery and like the other models requires the immersive light shield to block ambient lighting. Costs £249.

iWear VR920 – Unfortunately I didn’t get to to test the top of the range model. But have been told there have been improvements since Duncan reviewed them last October and found them a bit disappointing – see here. Offering headtracking for gamers, the VR920 goggles are now compatible with 80 games apparently, including World of Warcraft. Costs £299.

Verdict – So would I spend my hard earned on a pair of these glasses? Probably not the cheaper two models because quality really wasn’t that great. But the iWear AV920 seemed much better in terms of picture quality and sound quality was quite decent too. The only thing is I’m not sure about is the embarrassment factor. I can imagine my son wearing them in the car to watch movies via a iPod instead of having to set up a portable DVD player but would I really wear these on a plane? I’m not so sure. But then I never thought I’d talk into the microphone of my iPhone or take my GPS with me everywhere I go. And I do both now.

iWear VR920 video

shinychris