Video glasses never quite took off. The handful of good head-mounted displays have been clunky and expensive (like the Sony HMZ-T1), and most displays that claim to give you a movie theater experience in front of your eyes for less than $500 turn out to be, well, too good to be true. The Carl Zeiss Cinemizer OLED is still pretty pricey at $799 list, but it’s light and comfortable enough to wear for long periods of viewing while offering a good-looking, crisp picture. It’s far from perfect, and its short battery life and heavy light bloom keep it from being more than a novelty. That it’s one of the best pairs of video glasses we’ve tested shows that the category has plenty of room for improvement.
The Cinemizer is much, much smaller and lighter than the HMZ-T1, weighing just 4.3 ounces (8.6 including the control box and HDMI adapter) and looking more like a bulky, white pair of sunglasses than a head-mounted display. With its padded rubber nosepiece, the Cinemizer is surprisingly comfortable on the face. Two adjustable ear hooks clip on to the arms of the Cinemizer, and can be moved up to fit snugly against your ears to keep it from falling off your face. Two small 2.5mm audio ports, one on each arm, connect the included Sennheiser earbuds, and plastic cups under the ports hold the buds in place when they’re not in use. The Cinemizer doesn’t have a rubber eye shield to block out outside light, but you can get one as an optional $30 accessory.
A cable runs from the right arm of the Cinemizer down to its control box, a small battery the size of a pack of cigarettes. The box itself has a power button a 3.5mm port for a composite video connection with the included adapter, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a mini-USB port for charging, and power and volume controls. To use it with HDMI, you need to plug the box into the included HDMI casing, which has a mini-HDMI port for hooking up a video source. If you don’t have an HDMI-to-mini-HDMI cable, the Cinemizer comes with a short mini-HDMI-to-HDMI adapter with a female HDMI end so you can plug in a standard HDMI cable.
The battery lasts about two and a half hours. However, if you’re using a Blu-ray player, game system, or computer, you can plug a USB-to-mini-USB cable to keep the Cinemizer running indefinitely. This makes it more useful for home use, but you’ll have to watch your battery life when traveling. The glasses and control box all fit in an included zip-up case for safe storage.
The OLED displays offer an 870-by-500-resolution picture for each eye, which is a far sight short of 1080p television. However, the lower resolution still looks satisfyingly sharp based on the distance of the displays from the eyes and the size screen they try to replicate. The Cinemizer can display any video over HDMI from 480p to 1080p, including 3D video.
Each eyepiece has a diopter adjustment from -5 to +2, so even if you wear normally wear glasses you can use the Cinemizer without them. The diopter adjusters are large and easily found by touch, and I had no problem setting them so the picture looked clear to my nearsighted eyes.
Since the Cinemizer is too small to fit our colorimeter to perform our standard display tests, I had to eyeball the eyepieces to evaluate their performance. The good news is that the OLED displays look good and sharp despite their relatively low resolution, and they can get very bright, very colorful, and fairly dark. The bad news is the eyepieces tend to suffer from extreme light bloom, and most contrasting edges suffered from a heavy halo effect.
I watched a standard-definition broadcast of Regular Show and the high-definition opening scene to Blade: Trinity. They were both crisp and watchable, thought the bloom made watching the very bright and very dark shots in Blade: Trinity a little frustrating. I wore the Cinemizer for about 20 minutes before removing them, and I felt little eyestrain or uncomfortable weight on my head. After using the eye shield for a while, however, I got a headache after removing the Cinemizer because of the brightness and expanded field of vision.
You can connect the Cinemizer to a game system or a PC for gaming. An optional $229 headtracker clips onto the glasses to add mouse input to your head motion, so you can control PC games with your head. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should play games on the Cinemizer, especially non-first-person-shooter games. I tried to play Grand Theft Auto V, and the lower resolution made looking at information on the corners of the screen and reading the map difficult. Wonderful 101 was a little easier, but it still wasn’t ideal with display elements not looking as sharp as they would be on a full-size 1080p screen. First-person shooters are a little easier to tolerate, but you should watch out for smaller display elements like maps and ammo numbers. They’ll likely be hard to read.
The Carl Zeiss Cinemizer OLED is the best pair of video glasses we’ve tested so far, but that’s because there’s a lot of room for improvement in this niche category. The Cinemizer OLED is light and comfortable enough for flights and other travel, and its picture looks great when the bloom isn’t distracting. But its short battery life, less-than-stellar resolution, and issues with contrasting edges keep it from being a must-have. It might be the top choice among its few competitors, but think long and hard before you spend the $800.
|Video Inputs||Composite, HDMI|
|Diagonal Screen Size||N/A inches|
|Pixel Refresh Rate Speed||60Hz|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc