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Wide screen, up close and wearable!
Written by Daniel   
Friday, 16 March 2007 08:39

This 52-inch screen goes on your head
By Michael Kanellos
Staff Writer, CNET
Published: March 16, 2007, 4:00 AM PDT

reporter's notebook Companies have tinkered with the concept of wearable monitors for years. This summer, Santa Monica-based Headplay is going to see if the public wants to buy them....

In June, Headplay will begin selling its Personal Cinema System (PCS), a portable movie viewer whose principal component is a sun visor that sports a monitor under the brim for close, personal viewing. The PCS can be hooked up to a PC so the owner can play online games--at a recent trade show the company let attendees try out the visor while playing Unreal Tournament--or to a TV.

The PCS also has a control unit with a memory card slot for playing recorded movies or videos; headphones; and a device for selecting and navigating through the possible content selections with your thumb.

The whole package will sell for $499. The company will first sell the device on its Web site and will try to build customer awareness through trade shows and events. Target customers will be gamers, but also long-distance travelers who want a better screen than the small rectangular ones inserted into seat backs on planes.

"It is something you have to try," said Jay Puryear, director of interactive marketing at Headplay.

The viewing experience is akin to watching a 52-inch TV from 6 feet away, after a user gets accustomed to it, according to Puryear. The actual monitor, which only measures about 4 inches across, beams images through a set of eyepieces. By looking through the eyepieces, the mind "sees" a large-ish rectangular movie screen, or virtual monitor, on top of a black background. The eyepieces are independently focused so users don't need glasses, even if they are extremely farsighted or nearsighted.

During a few quick trials, I never got the full 52-inch experience; it reminded me more of watching a movie on a GAF View-Master. The virtual monitor floats in front of your eyes at what seems to be about 6 inches to 2 feet away. Touching your nose reminds you the virtual monitor isn't real. Moving your head makes the monitor move--while that might add realism to games, it's a bit jarring with movies.
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