Video Goes Personal (Part 1) : Sony HMZ-T2, Epson Moverio Bt-100, Sennheiser Momentum, LG ND8520

3/28/2013 4:06:43 AM

Just when you though the next best thing with video will be an even larger screen, companies have started testing the waters for a whole new segment the personal video player. While music went personal with the Walkman over three decades ago, video is taking this turn quite late in life. Within a month two companies have launched personal video players in India, both capable of playing FullHD video with 3D. A look at the two devices.

The 3d Star

Sony HMZ-T2

Price: $ 1,287

Sony HMZ-T2

The Sony HMZ-T2 has a very sci-fi look to it, as if it is something out of an Isaac Asimov novel. Well, it is cutting edge, no doubt. In fad, this has to be the best rendering of 3D for a consumer at the moment. But this one is just a personal video viewer, though a very good one at that.

How it works

The design is a bit like a thick sun visor, but worn in front of the eye. You need to adjust the strap on the back and the pad in front to get a perfect fit. Unless the device is in perfect position, you cannot see anything on the small LCD screen inside. But once you start seeing the image, you have adjustments under each eye to get the image in perfect position. The device also has a power button, volume controls and menu buttons with arrows to select.

There is a catch though. You need a Blu-ray player- or some other HDMI source - along with a pass-through box to see anything on the HMZ-T2.This in many ways relegated the device to something you will have to keep near your TV, or at least wherever the Blu-ray player is. So portability is not a feature here.

How good is it?

Picture quality is certainly the USP here. The 3D, for instance, is much superior than anything you will get to see in a theatre or in your expensive 3D television. This is truly immersive 3D. The sound is real good, but to experience that you will need to plug in a better earphone than the one that comes in the box. Another good thing about the device is that you can control the playback from the eyepiece and don't need to turn to the Blu-player remote for everything. The menu also gives you device settings, and make sure that you use this to switch on 3D display which is not default. We guess it will work superbly as a gaming device connected to a PS3 or Xbox. To connect to the Internet or to play files from a USB you will have to rely on the player completely.

Should you buy it?

The HMZ-T2 is an excellent video viewer and really scores a 10/10 with its 3D. However, that fact that it needs life support from a Blu-ray player or gaming console reduces its practicality a bit. In the end you will need a dedicated space to enjoy this device.

Truly Portable

Epson Moverio Bt-100

Price: $795

Epson Moverio Bt-100

Not much larger than large-size sun glasses, this device gloats over its compactness. In fact, its controller and playback device is not much larger than a smartphone and, not surprisingly, runs an Android operating system. The eyepiece has nose cushions and L-shaped angles that can be used to adjust the position for people using spectacles. The latter can also take the load of your nose by shifting the device weight to the spectacle frame. There are drop down earphones on both sides, a stop button on the main wire and volume controls on the box. Content can be downloaded to the 1GB internal storage or to a MicroSD card for which there is a slot on the device.

How it works

The eye piece is transparent, and you can see through it when the device has not been powered on. But when Moverio is working, two small LCD panels light up inside. Viewed together they give an image that is similar to the large screen you have in a movie theatre. You also get a perception of distance, as if you were sitting a dozen rows away from the screen. But since the rest of the eye piece continues to be transparent, you can view what is happening around you as well. This is good to the extent that you are not completely cut off from the surroundings, but on the flip side it is a bit hard to concentrate on the image if the ambient light is too strong.

How good is it?

It takes about a minute for your eye to adjust to the image in the eye piece, but after that it is unbridled viewing pleasure. At times you feel as if there is a vague line where the two images are meeting, but it does not affect the quality of the overall image. However, the same is more prominent if you are trying to browse the Web through Wi-Fi. Yes, thanks to the Android 2.2 OS, this device can do pretty much everything your smartphone does and that includes browsing. This is not that easy as you have to use the touchpad and arrow keys on the controller to type on the virtual keyboard. But it works and we streamed some HD video from YouTube. The other great thing about the device is the Dolby Mobile surround sound that adds to the overall immersive experience. There is 3D too - even a 2D to 3D convert button, but we felt it lacked a bit of throw though the depth was good. The battery is good for at least four hours after a regular recharge.

Should you buy it?

If you are movie junky and an early adapter for technology this is a great device to have. It gives you the kind of movie viewing experience no large screen or home theatre system can replicate. Plus, as we were fearing, it is not a pain on the nose.

Classic sound

Sennheiser Momentum

Price: $463


It is an accepted fact that music often touches the soul. But unless you are witnessing a live performance, the equipment used to recreate the music plays a crucial role in whether your listening experience can be raised to a spiritual level.

The Sennheiser Momentum is one device that seems to have channel open to the heavens. With a stainless steel headband and supple leather ear cups, design is standout all the way. It is also very practical and soon after wearing the device you realize that it is almost feather weight. This means you are just listening to your music and not conscious about the headset. Its ear cups, which can be adjusted separately if needed, are very soft on the ear and cooler than most closed Circumaural models. On the single wire is a stainless steel controller; that is sturdy and easy to use, as well as an adjustable 3.5mm jack. The Momentum also comes with a B.3 mm adapter jack and a leather carrying case.

If the design is great, then the music is better. We tried the headphones with a PC, smartphone and tablet and everywhere the output was pretty much what we would expect from a top of the range device. With FLAC files we could make out every pick on the guitar, every slip on the violin, as we were there where the artistes were playing. Soft highs, robust middles, accentuated lows, the Momentum reproduces music as it was intended to be heard. We could not complain about anything as far as audio quality is concerned.

We wouldn't, however; suggest this device for people who intent to use it only with an Android device. You need to change the cables for some Android devices and the on-cord controls for the hands free seem to work only on Apple and Blackberry products. While the Mic is good enough to catch your voice in noisy surroundings, it also creates some noise of its own when rubbing on clothing. The headphone is compact enough to be used with mobile devices, but we suggest you keep this precious device at home. After all, great things in life don’t come cheap.

Cubic music

LG ND8520

Price: $389

LG ND8520

LG's latest, the ND8520 music dock, seems like it has been designed in Scandinavia and not South Korea. It is undoubtedly one of the most radical designs we have seen on any product in recent times. It looks like a Rubik's Cube, with the all the cubes a bit out of alignment.

At first look it is hard to imagine this as a speaker sock. In fact, this device is much more. Yes, it can dock the iPhone, iPod and iPad on top. But it can also link to Apple devices through.

 AirPlay as well as Bluetooth, there is also a USB port if you are a pen drive music hoarder. And for the old fashioned there is always the FM tuner and the portable in. We doubt if there is any other dock that gives users so many features.

Setting AirPlay is a pit tough though and possible only with the help of the manual. For everything else there is the cube in the middle of the top row, what LG calls the Smart Square. This is actually a touch based screen that lets you navigate and control the speaker dock. This is very easy once you figure out tiny icons that appear in red. You have to use this screen to select the input source. There is also a remote.

The sound quality is good. Maybe we should highlight that it very loud. You cannot play anything in full volume without the risk of shattering glass in the house. It is that loud. And we mean it in a good sense. Though the device itself is the size of a small fruit carton, the actual 20W speakers are just two small cubes in middle. The subwoofer is below facing the floor. Together they work to create good quality sound, which we thought was slightly partial to bass by default. But there is an equalizer with four presets, which can be accessed only with the remote.

If you are thinking of going wireless with your music this is one dock you should seriously look at just because of the options it offers. You can also hook it up to your DVD player or old music system.


Lot of features, affordable

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