back to article Sony HMZ-T1 3D head mounted display

Watching a movie with Sony’s strap-on Personal 3D Head Mounted Display is one of the more extraordinary cinematic experiences you can have. Imagine the intensity of large screen IMAX somehow ciphered through display panels more befitting a digital camera. It’s like watching TV in a sensory deprivation tank: weird, uncomfortable …


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  1. Llyander

    Interesting idea, but what about those of us who have to wear glasses? Is there enough room for them or does the headset get in the way?

    1. Citizen Kaned

      well, half of us...

      im not sure us short-sighted people will need our glasses any more :) bonus!

      would long-sighted people still need them? my close up vision is excellent.

    2. LaeMing Silver badge

      ...have adjustable focus in each eye-piece so you can - within limits - adjust to match your focus needs. Now I think about it, any half-decent video camera has had this feature in the eyepiece since the year dot.

    3. Ian Ferguson

      That's why each lens can be focused separately. Not sure how far that can go, but for SLR cameras you can slot in extra lenses for extreme prescriptions, and it's probably the same for this.

      1. HMB

        If that's so then it will just be anyone with an astigmatism that can't use these then.

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Focus adjustment is your friend

      Focus adjustment is your friend, unless you are severely astigmatic of course.

      By the way - the price is not so nuts. It delivers a similar (if not better) experience to a 50 in TV at a comparable price point. So if you have enough money to shell on a 50 in monster without the space to put it they may be just the right Xmas gift for you :)

  2. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge


    Now stupid people will actually believe that they are in their favourite soap opera and probably starve themselves to death.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BTL

      Fahrenheit 452 anybody?

  3. Citizen Kaned

    dont know where the controller buttons are?

    i mean, there are so many - erm. 4 thumbs 4 shoulders and 2 analogues usually plus select and start.

    not really too hard to remember surely? im sure most gamers know where they are. i even can play PC FPS etc without looking at my kb. not too difficult either for anyone who can touch type.

    1. Audrey S. Thackeray

      It would be good to test this.

      I suspect you might find it more difficult than you think - our eyes move around more than we are conscious of.

      You'd expect to be able to get up to speed given time to acclimatise (something a review would not have).

  4. ElNumbre

    Push the button...

    "I thought that the HMZ-T1 would also be ideal for gamers – until I tried it and quickly realised that wearing the headset meant I couldn’t see the controller in my hands."

    So, presumably, you can't touch type either?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Depends on the game too

      This will be a total killer if bundled with a good joystick and a good flight simulator. You can combine it with Move and some on-helmet acceleration sensors and pick up head moving left/right/up/down to match cockpit view to it.

      Ditto for a FPS - you will just see your "in-play" gun instead of your controls.

      It will require LOTS of investment, but I can actually see someone like Sony having the resources to deliver on this. It will not be easy as it will variable viewpoints/angles for the player which has to be incorporated into the game day one, but it is doable.

      There are possibilities to use this, it is simply a case of them not being utilized just yet.

      1. Lamont Cranston

        Combine it with Move?

        I hope not! Even Sony couldn't be daft enough to encourage their customers to cover up their eyes and ears, then flail their arms about - could they?

  5. Andy Farley

    Where does your eye focus? How does it get the illusion of depth? My right eye no longer focuses well under ~2 foot - would I be able to use this?

  6. Haku


    Considering Sony's previous venture into high resolution head mounted video displays some 13+ years ago (the Glasstron PLM-S700 being their best with true 832x624 resolution, which I own a set of) cost over £2000 when new, £800 in comparison isn't that bad, especially as they're 3D capable and OLED not LCD.

    I'd very much like to own a set but don't have £800 kicking around, I can imagine the next generation of consoles will have some strong 3D display support and these sorts of glasses would be ideal for that. Just a shame they didn't bother sticking any sort of headtracking means into the gizmo for more immersive gaming capabilities.

  7. stu 4

    good review

    I have 4 sets of lcd glasses. Though I cut one set up to make a single head up monocle for when I fly my paramotor. Without exception they all never match their hyped specs. I have been waiting for the HMZ-T1 reviews for a while. It's a pity they are so expensive, but the main omission if lack of portability for me - what are sony thinking. surely the OLEDs are pretty low power.

    Also, the fov is still very narrow at 50º. 90 would be a minimum for me, and for gaming you'd want more like 120º. You'd think it would be possible for them to provide 2 or 3 different optics that could be swapped in to provide different FOVs.

  8. andreas koch
    Thumb Up

    augmented reality, anyone?

    Add 2 cameras, connect it to a PSP and have some serious AR games. Now that'd be something...

    1. Bunker_Monkey

      Now thats what I'm talking about!

      iRacing in 3d and with a better version of TrackIR!

    2. Mike Brown

      go a stage further

      take your additions and add headtraking, and 2 move controllers. Hello next gen VR

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This would be awesome for flight sims if you could cobble together some head tracking.

    3. Anonymous Coward



      What? What did I do?


      But I bought and paid for....


      But I was only

      <he's resisting boys - GET HIM>

  9. Len Goddard

    Forget the 3D

    I have no interest in 3D but I do like the idea of a virtual 150" screen. Would they be cheaper if they had a single display with a bit of optical trickery to enable both eyes to focus on it?

  10. SuperNintendoChalmers


    Your source was worried enough about being identified for you not to name them, but you narrow the field down to a single store... that seems a tad harsh. As for the glasses there is a part of me that wants them as they look like they could be very cool and may actually make 3D worthwhile. The other sensible part of me says not a chance I have better things to spend £800 on.

  11. Troy Peterson


    I can't wait to see these. As a 3d affectionado and someone who has been wanting to get my hands on a decent hmd since I saw The Lawnmower Man in 1992 I think I will probably buy these, even at that price. I've been looking at HMDs for years and the cheap ones are all way too low in the specs, where as the decently spec'd ones are £10k+... These are still on the low side for resolution though... 1080p would have been nice. My question is, what do they look like to a computer? I want to play flight sims with these (plus head tracker!), but many modern flight sims do not support anything less than 1920x1080 resolution at all.. If these look like a 1280x720 display to the computer then it may refuse to play.... I'm hoping there is a way to present them as a 1080p display and have them scale to their native resolution.

    In any case, I _love_ 3d... Bought my first pair of shutter glasses for the computer about 7 years ago or so. Although I'm not a 'gamer', games in 3d are amazing. My favorite is still Doom 3 played with my edimenaion 3d shutter glasses. Back in the 90's I seriously thought everyone would have sunglasses sized full immersion hmds by this time...

  12. maljackson

    You can't preorder this anymore

    Earlier, I could preorder this, now I can't. Wonder why that is?

    Can I use this with my Panasonic Blu Ray? I won't have to buy a Sony Blu Ray player would I?



  13. Steve Ives
    Paris Hilton

    Why get someone old to do the review?

    So, one of the potentially best applications (i.e. gaming) is not tested because the reviewer needs to look at the controller to play? (Like my Mum - who also wuoldn't be able to play in a darkened room). Don't you have any one under the age of 60 available?

  14. Anonymous Coward

    720p for £800 ... I'm still laughing!

    1. Steve Ives


      Yes - as it's nothing more than a 720p monitor...

    2. Brian 6

      "720p for £800 ... I'm still laughing!" That's 720P per eye on 0.7 inch monitors. Your just too stupid to be impressed by that right ??

      1. Ralph B

        Testing Skitt’s Law

        @Brian 6: You're just too stupid to spell "you're" correctly.

        1. Brian 6

          @Ralph B

          LOL Yeah ok m8. You're right. It was late, I was tired. 720p on a sub 1 inch screen is mind blowing.

  15. xeroks


    So how does this compare to the less geeky (ok slightly) looking offerings from vuzix?

    Are those oleds better?

  16. Pinky

    HMD Sensor datasheet?!?!

    "If you understand Japanese, you can check out the HMD's 0.7in sensor "

    First time I've seen a HMD system with image sensors!

    On a serious note, this does look like a nice piece of kit, so long as the displays have the right capabilities - no indication of what the colour gamut is, and the fill factor of the pixels becomes relevant at these apparent scales.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    OK, here you go - lean back a foot further from your 24" LCD monitor and cut the resolution by thirty or forty percent. As in, enough that you can't use a lot of Windows control panels.

    Now have it wiggle around whenever your head moves the slightest bit, and soar through the air in front of you if you happen to move your head very far. You can add a TrackIR or similar to it if you're gaming - now have it stay put in general but bounce around like it's on a rubber band instead.

    Now make it like a film transparency, so instead of looking at a surface it looks like you're staring through some kind of plastic sheet.

    Now pay, what, $1500, for it, when for that kind of coin you can get a 55" Sony TV, which is 1080p, which has rather good color, which is 3D with very little luminance loss, and whose field of view you can set by moving either yourself or the TV. And when you get up to go use the can, it won't try to get up and go with you.

    In any case, I find the use of HMDs for movies absurd - if you want a good movie experience, watch it as close as you can to the way the director intended: Projected on a flat surface, viewed from 1.2x screen width, with high quality audio and not some crud headphones, and in the dark. Anything else is a worthless gimmick.

    PS: iRacing with 3D is indeed unbelievably fantastic on the aforementioned display - despite being limited to 720p (argh) due to HDMI 1.4. It's even better with a four axis motion platform that has continuous rotation, and even better than that with a FFB wheel which has enough torque to satisfy the driver of a 1950s-era grand prix car...

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      errr ok

      but a setup that you are suggesting would cost the price of these with a couple of 0's on the end. Either that or endure the shitness that is modern cinema. If it is a decent tradeoff then go for it.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        The motion platform is indeed expensive as all getout, but I built my home theater for about a grand (USD), cleverness, and patience. Paint, fabric walls, curtains, 90" screen, projector, audio, computer. It's calibrated within an inch of its life for audio/video, uses a CRT projector that'll run for 10k hours with no bulbs to change, and has both pretty nice high end and enough bass to rattle dishes upstairs, with no more than 2db variance from 20hz to 22khz.

        Yeah, it took me a year of off-and-on, fun as hell work and learning, but it's evvver so worth it. I can match any local high end theater in anything but outright resolution and another 10% in audio quality.

        So, no, awesome home theater need not be for the wealthy. Suck it, 1%!

  18. VeeMan

    I WOULD!

    I understand it's probably bit of a stretch for the average joe, but I'm single, enjoy movies and the odd battlefield challenge, have been saving up for a projector because I don't see the benefits of spending the same amount on a massive telly.

    Yes it would probably have had more shine if it was 1080p, however I'm assuming that since the product has a road-map as suggested, the likelihood of that coming in the future is likely. And even if it did with this one, I don't think the review would have been any different.

    As for playing games with it - like the previous posts, unless you have just started familiarizing yourself with a keyboard and mouse for the first time in your life, it's going to be no different doing it with these on vs. using your display(s).

    I hope they have some demo models at the store since I intend on paying them a visit tonight.

  19. jezza 1

    need to look at the controller?

    who on earth needs to look at the controller when playing games? as someone else mentioned my mother, cant think of anyone else. How about you pass this to someone who isnt over 60 to review as i am sure lots of us would like to know what its like for the PRIMARY application of gaming.


  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VR not TV

    A good way to look at this thing is actually more as a set of very cheap 720P VR goggles, rather than as an expensive not-quite-HD TV replacement. My first VD MHD system, a very nice 800x600 field sequential LCOS LCD one, cost me over £2K in about 2000. 1280x720 resolution HMDs are still very expensive, much more than the Sony unit.

    For example, look at They'll happily sell you an HMD for $20K, but won't publicly announce the price of the 1280x720 resolution one. What does that tell you?

  21. Tullibardine

    No TV and No Licence

    If you lived alone and got rid of your TV set you could dump this thing in a drawer when the TV licence man coes around. It would effectively pay for itself in a few years :P

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just order a US set

      Just order a US TV, and when they come around, let them confirm that it doesn't speak Freeview (DVB, IIRC), only ATSC. You can still plug all your HDMI kit into it.

  22. Joe K

    Another reg hardware classic

    Useless review.

    AVforums and Neogaf are posting some FAR better reviews, some that have had me on the phone to Sony giving them my credit card number before i knew what i was doing.


    "What I saw was something I didnt know was possible. I've only ever seen 3d very few times in theaters and on my 3ds. Every time, it's either pop at you 3d or layer-ish 3d where you can see what layer each item is. Like for example... Person one is popping outside the screen...but still flat. His whole body occupies the same "layer", while person 2 is again on a different "layer" but deeper. When I loaded Skyrim...Everything had depth. Not just things being in layers, but if I see a person, I can see exactly how his whole body is occupying space in the world. And EVERYTHING occupies space. I can walk to a door and see how the small dents and decor ocupy space. It's pretty amazing and the most realistic non real thing I've seen. In fact... My brain was questioning jumping down a mountain because the sense of depth is just so realistic, even though I knew I was playing a game, just being that high and looking below sent a "danger: don't fucking jump down or you will die" signal to my brain."

    Deus Ex:

    "The image is bright and colorful but it's the steadiness of the 3D that really grabs hold of you. It really does gives you the impression of looking into an actual 3D environment. I tried out Deus Ex Human Revolution on the PC and was extremely impressed. The visuals in the game are very dark and full of high contrast edges. This type of content typically wreaks havoc with 3D displays producing a lot of crosstalk around the high contrast areas while struggling to deliver enough brightness to render shadow detail in the darkest regions. Using the HMZ, the image quality appears exactly as you'd expect on a dedicated monitor without glasses. Shadow detail is fully accounted for and the colors were rich and vibrant. When you switch to 3D, though, the quality of the image takes a significant leap forward. The resulting image is completely steady and appears fully 3D. The scenes really take on proper depth (rather than appearing as a serious of cardboard cutouts) and feel natural. I never once felt as if my eyes were being tricked. In fact, you can focus on specific objects in the world while the surrounding areas feels naturally out of focus just as you expect in real life. This was particularly evident when using iron sights as it was not really possible to fully examine the detail of the gun while keeping the rest of the scene in focus. It felt startlingly real in that regard. I even tried simulating head tracking by moving my mouse in time with my head movements which was rather immersive. Also, as this was a PC game, I had my image quality cranked up and the framerate at 60 fps. Experiencing all of this with perfect image quality and a high framerate really ups the experience even further. It's simply unreal."


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All I can think is Porn, Magical Girls, Macross Frontier and, First Person perspective gaming.

    If it had a camera on it AR, I could make it so my house was awesome instead of a dingy maisonette.

    At £800 it sounds like a steal.

    1. Leona A
      Paris Hilton

      Well it didn't take long for someone to think that PORN is the best use for this product. Geez get a girlfriend!

  24. mangobrain

    Crosstalk/double imaging

    "Because OLED panels refresh around 100x faster than LED panels (response time is quoted at just 0.01 milliseconds), left/right screens don’t overlap and double imaging is avoided."

    Surely the lack of crosstalk has sod all to do with the refresh rate, and more to do with the fact that instead of a single screen rapidly flicking between left/right eye images, there's a separate physical screen for each eye? Don't get me wrong, a high refresh rate is a Good Thing, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of 3D images in this instance. I also nearly face-palmed when I read the bit about not being able to look at a controller whilst wearing them, as per several other commenters. Please can we have this sort of kit reviewed by someone who actually knows what they're on about in future?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do want.

    That is all.

  26. kyza

    Great stuff...

    Shame it doesn't have head tracking. I can see that being more disorienting and an issue for me than 'not being able to find the buttons'. n00b.

    Still, a 1080p version, with head tracking & Move...I'm imagining Battlefield, flying a jet, and just being able to look around without having to change views...

  27. deadmonkey

    Isn't it potentially going to bugger up your eyesight a little?

    People bang on about us looking at monitors for hours at a time, isn't that effect magnified by looking at a fixed focal point just a few inches away?

    I'm genuinely interested to know.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Not even slightly sold on current 3D 'tech'

    The biggest problem with a device like this, is that it's quite simply *still* just gimmicky 3D.

    Until such point as there's 3D movies you can actually walk around in, view from any angle etc., the illusion will always be flawed.

    I credit myself with enough imagination to watch standard 2D movies and get completely immersed in the experience, I really don't need to see the illusion of things poking out of the screen at me to enjoy the experience.

    When I consider what would make a great 3D experience, it would be somewhat like an FPS game. Think Half-Life2 - an ingame 'cut scene' where whilst the various characters are chatting, your free to wander around the environment, walk behind them, look at Alex's arse etc.

    Ultimately, I'm hoping this is where 3D movies will eventually go - computer generated, with AI.

    If you walk behind the characters, perhaps they will turn around to face you and continue with the story - again, just like in modern FPS games.

    Couple that with a fantastically advanced VR headset and *now* we're talking!

    In short, you could either be an observer or an actor yourself, playing any role you choose.

    The ultimate merging of 3D gaming and movies.

    I don't think that tech is too far off - maybe 10 years?

    Until then, you can keep your gimmicky 3D movie experiences, they're crap.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Several practical concerns.

      First off, look at the earlier VR systems. They usually encircled you in a ring. If you walk around in a true VR settings, you're naturally going to start walking. The effect tends to get spoiled if you end up tripping over the coffee table or crashing into the wall. Neuroscience looks to be a considerable distance now just from mental control but mental INTERCEPT--being able to take neural impulses meant to make you start walking and redirect them elsewhere; not to mention it's likely to be somewhat disturbing.

      As for being able to display true volumetric 3D scenes without glasses, there's a whole world of light issues to get around. For example, how do you make light reflect and refract off something that isn't really there, in a specific wavelength and pattern? It's one sci-fi angle scientists haven't been able to even BEGIN to bridge. That's why the focus on head-mounted displays. It's a lot easier to trick a brain and a pair of eyes than it is to bend the laws of physics.

  29. elmerfudd
    Thumb Up


    Anybody else want to play that old game "Decent" with these things on? Even way back when, then manual actually had a line "Remember to blink". PS: Anybody with vertigo should NEVER play this game :)


    1. Anonymous Coward

      Hang on... if you had vertigo, wouldn't it just mean you couldn't tell the difference? Should be an advantage!

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        No, because now you're sick.

        Vertigo is a sign of "simulation sickness", a condition in which your senses get confused and the brain gets all twisted as a result. Think of it as motion sickness only coming from the other direction. Your eyes are told there is motion. There is stereoscopic differential, motion, and a bunch of other cues that makes the brain think, "Okay, I'm moving". Only thing is, the vestbular system in your ear (which help the brain determine 3D orientation--think natural gyroscopes) say you're standing still. The brain takes a look at these conflicting reports and gets the following result: "I'm perceiving movement when I'm not moving (I'm trusting the vestibular system on this--it isn't as easy to fool). Therefore, the eyes are hallucinating. MUST'VE BEEN SOMETHING I ATE." THEN the nausea begins as the body tries to get rid of the possible cause of the hallucination.

        1. Anonymous Coward


          Yes, I'm aware of the essential elements of motion sickness. First, my post was half joking (see: devil icon). Second, 'advantage' was in this case a relative term; more accurately of would be describes as an evening of the playing field: Normal person plays, has reduced vestibular function due to game, does badly. Person with no vestibular function plays, can't tell the difference because that's the way it is all the time, does badly - but perhaps, if he's learned techniques to compensate, even has a slight advantage.

          But I don't know enough about vestibular issues to comment on that with any authority. It would be interesting to see some research.

          By the way, I part-own a company which designs and manufactures motion simulators; our systems, and the cuing software I wrote, have been or are being used by racing schools, flight schools (with FAA approval of cuing, though the test seemed really subjective), the military, and, interestingly enough, a doctor who treats vestibular problems!

          Granted, some of my understanding is seat-of-the-pants, but I don't think it extends further inward toward pulling it out of my ass. ;)

          One note to add to your observations - we've found that -delay- is absolutely crucial to avoiding barfosis. Or rather, lack of it. In addition, the presence of high frequencies in the cuing has a big effectm We can get away with running relatively small screens in broad daylight because we have high frequency response and low delay. And for some people, display -type- is an issue; my dad had a really hard time even seeing where he was going with a triple-LCD setup, but a single 720p (on a 55" 1080p panel) 3D display worked vastly better despite the huge loss in pixel count and spatial resolution.

          When dealing with motion sickness for simulation, it's clear there are a great many contextual factors which are usually not taken into account at all, eg. real screen fov vs. simulated fov within that frame, eyepoint and gaze direction in real life vs. simulator, and with 3d, the convergence and separation required for the correct depth perception.

          It's all quite interesting, really - particularly 3d since nobody knows the slightest fuck what they're doing, yet. Except moi, naturally. :)

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