Forget about watching airline selected and edited movies on crummy displays with lousy sound when you fly.  Televizer portable DVD theater is the personal, portable home theater with a big screen view for business travelers and other consumers, as well as for powerful business presentations on DVD or video CD-based presentations.

Turn on the system resting inside its carrying bag, slip on the visor containing the LCD video displays, adjust the built-in headphones, push play (on the portable DVD player or with the supplies wireless remote!) and lose yourself in the experience as I have been doing.  Does it get any better than this?

Features

• Manufacturer: i-O Display Systems, LLC of Menlo Park, CA.  Phone: 1-800-339-5287

• On the Web at http://www.i-glasses.com.

• Product name: Televizer™

• MSRP $1499

• i-glasses purchased separately are $499

• Retail distribution not yet established.  Purchase direct via phone or Internet.

• Includes lightweight (8 oz.) i-glasses™, Panasonic P-10 portable DVD player which can play any DVD, Video CD or standard music CD, custom carrying case, rechargeable 4.0 AH NiMH battery pack (for up to three and one half hours usage per charge), charger (charging time is approximately 70% in two to three hours, full charge in about eight hours), required cables, AC adapters for powering the glasses and DVD player independent of the battery, and remote control.

• i-glasses consist of twin embedded 180,000 pixel, 0.7” LCDs with 260 lines of resolution, custom designed optics providing a virtual 80-inch screen floating 11 feet ahead of the viewer, over-the-ear headphones with stereo sound capability, 2-D/3-D switch, foldable ergonomic frame design with adjustable earphones and adjustable elastic head strap, multi-purpose rocker switch for volume control and on-screen adjustment for brightness, contrast, tint, color, and sharpness.  No distance adjustment required (or possible) even when worn with glasses or contact lenses.  Unique pivoting, padded forehead standoff assures comfortable fit, proper positioning on any head type without the need for a nose pad.

• i-glasses’ nearly six-foot cabling connects to S-Video out, audio line out on P-10.

• Custom case is similar in feel, functionality and construction to padded, compartmented notebook computer cases such as those made by Targus and others.

Connectivity

This one’s pretty much a slam dunk.  Everything connects easily and directly.  In normal use, the screenless Panasonic P10 DVD player will sit in its compartment in the zippered bag and the glasses will be removed but tethered to the player.  It’s a clean look.  Once the side mounted spring-loaded power switch is engaged and the DVD loaded (push a button to pop open the lid and set the DVD in the spindle), the supplied remote control is all you need.  The power button on the remote will turn off the system, but will not turn it on.  If play is interrupted, such as when watching a movie on the installment plan, the player remembers where it left off, so long as the DVD isn’t removed or the access hatch opened.

The remote control is full featured, including the ability to send customary system info to the headset display and navigate through various menus.  It’s as if you are watching and using a conventional setup with a DVD player and big screen TV.  It’s all quite convenient to operate.  There is really no reason to use the player-mounted controls.  I found myself ignoring these in favor of the remote.

Since the audio to the glasses is supplied via the audio line out jack, the volume is controlled on the glasses and not on the player.

The i-glasses may also be connected to, say, the S-Video out on an S-VHS VCR for personal viewing and to take advantage of viewing specialty 3-D movies on tape.  The six-foot cable will allow the user to still be connected while sitting in a nearby chair. The separate glasses power supply has its own six-foot cord and the connector is at the base of the glasses’ connector cluster, so it’s a clean look when connected in this fashion.

The supplied rechargeable NiMH battery sits beneath a padded partition upon which the player rests.  There is a pull-apart connector in the line between the wire from the battery to the plug and into the auxiliary power jack on the player.  To recharge the battery, the charger’s business end connects to the battery side of this pull-apart connector.

Look & feel

The entire Televizer setup is well made and promotes a quality feeling.  It’s tough to ignore the cache associated with such a visually appealing and unusual looking apparatus.  Who wouldn’t take notice of the user wearing this visor assembly and who appears to be immersed in his own virtual experience of tremendous pleasure?  In my own experience, everyone who has seen the system wants to try it and then keep it.  I have heard all the usual superlatives and expressions of amazement and wondrous joy.  (I hate it when I can’t play with my test toys because others want to hog them!)

The i-glasses are comfortable and not fatiguing to wear, even after three hours.

The i-glasses are made so that when watching a movie, the eyes are at a constant resting state, shown to be when focused from 11 to 13 feet ahead.  For example, when you find yourself daydreaming and focused on nothing particular ahead of you, this, too, is in that 11 to 13 foot range.  Remember, these are focused at a virtual distance of 11 feet looking at a screen size of 80 inches.  Hence, no eye strain.

The model of i-glasses shipped with Televizer are opaque, not transparent.  As General Manager John James explained to me, they do not want to encourage the possibility that a purchaser of this product will entertain the idea that these can be worn while driving.  The opaque display would make this impossible.  The i-glasses also have a front shade to block any light from interfering with the image.

Performance

Okay, so here’s where we cut through all the hype: I really like the Televizer.  Good night everybody.  Thanks for coming.

No, really, this is pretty amazing, and I get to play with lots of wonderful toys.  Imagine this for yourself.  You’re sitting on a flight with your DVD-enabled big-screen PowerBook and attached headphones about to enjoy your own movie selection.  There’s one problem, though.  The szlub in front of you decides to recline his seatback and now there isn’t enough room for your notebook to sit on the tray table in front of you.  Or, perhaps your taste in movies is a bit on the adult side and you find yourself next to or otherwise with viewers of inappropriate age within eye-shot.  This could prove uncomfortable and you wouldn’t want to give little Monica, poised to share your experience, any ideas that could pose a problem later in life, would you?  Rather than resorting to watching your emergency Sesame Street DVD, you bag the idea altogether, unless . . .

You brought Televizer instead.  Now, let the world go on its merry way all around you while you slip on your i-glasses and watch the DVD of your choice.  Crank up the sound and relax.  Lose yourself in the experience.  It isn’t hard to do.  I found myself immersed in enjoying the show after a surprisingly short time.

At first, I expected focus difficulties because I wear glasses or contact lenses, but only if I want to see anything well.  With either aid, I can’t focus well upon objects closer than about one foot.  My fears were immediately assuaged.  Focus was crisp and easy on the eyes, without any eye strain.  It was explained that the viewer’s eyes are actually in a relaxed state of focus, as if viewing images at a distance of about 11 feet.  Is this cool or what?

I also expected to have a negative impression of the image quality itself.  After all, there are only 180,000 pixel LCDs, and images on LCD displays of this type appear pixilated.  You can see little dots that make up the picture.  Well, forget that, too.  It didn’t take long to ignore any visual shortcomings.

I quickly allowed myself to relax and enjoy the experience.  I savored this virtual big screen portable theater while sitting on a couch with little to distract me and also in the midst of normal family goings on with two busy and active kids nearby.  I watched movies in bed, lights out, Mrs. Gadget asleep at my side, and I knew I would not disturb her slumber. (Or be affected by her snoring!  Just kidding, dear.)

I disconnected the visor from the player and then connected it to the S-Video out on an S-VHS VCR to test the glasses’ 3-D capabilities.  (I used an S-VHS machine because the video connection on the i-glasses is S-Video.  The 3-D video was not an “S” tape.)

This portion of the evaluation proved just how well the company has done its homework.  No flicker, no artifacts, just good, pleasing 3-D.  The two-position selector on the glasses is designed to accommodate any type of 3-D available. I can only say that the experience was quite pleasant.  It was not the same as experiencing the best in 3-D, such as in an IMAX theater, but I have never seen as good outside the IMAX experience.  Now, if only there were 3-D DVDs.

Though the viewing size is the standard 4:3 aspect ratio on these i-glasses, viewing letterbox content was still a pleasant experience due to the large virtual screen size.  This is a good place to mention options for the well-heeled.

i-O Display Systems also produces products for upscale markets, such as military flight simulators.  How about using the glasses to distract and entertain during dental procedures?  The newest product is the $969 Cabview (i-glasses, stereo VHS VCP (player) and custom cabinet  targeting long haul truckers.  (Be sure to check them out online and see their other products.)

For a mere $799, you can be the proud owner of your own i-glasses X2.  The X2 model sports twin 360,000 LCDs with man made Lithium Nibate crystals grown only in Siberia and China.  These sexy LCDs have two optical paths for an apparent doubling of the resolution as twice the information is written to the LCDs.  Still not satisfied?  Pony up $3999 for Protec.  These top-of-the-line goggles have displays with over one million pixels each and can be switched from the standard 4:3 display to 16:9.  Can you say HD LCD?  Well, not quite, but I’ll bet the image quality is astounding.  Protec is marketed with a VGA connector only and is used as a display device for computers or any application in which a digital display is specified.  Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to try either of these two options, but I’m available!

I have purposefully not mentioned too much about the excellent performing Panasonic P-10 portable DVD player.  Why?  It’s because the i-glasses are the star here.  The DVD player performs the role of an appliance.  It could be just about any screenless portable player, but the company chose this one.  It’s a good choice, with wonderful and intuitive ease of use.  The remote control makes it a no brainer, and that’s the way I like it.  No worry about batteries for the DVD player, no problems with controls.  Just pop in the DVD, turn it on and hit play or navigate with the remote through settings and content choices.

Here’s a tip. Why not get your DVD rentals over the Internet from Netflix? The first three rentals per order are $4 each, the rest are just $3 each.   They’ve got over two thousand titles and add more daily.  Rentals are for a one week period.  After viewing, drop the DVDs into the supplied return mailer and send them back.  That’s it.

This has been a wonderful review experience.  The product works well and is very cool, if a bit pricey at this time.  However, we all know what happens to the prices of new technology as it moves to the masses.  In the future, expect to see better prices for the glasses and better prices and more choices for the player hardware.  Remember, somebody, somewhere had to make the decision to build screenless portable DVD players, and they did it because they saw the market potential.

I can’t wait to see where this technology is headed in the future!

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