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Zeiss Cinemizer OLED 3D VR Video Glasses Review
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Date: Sep 30, 2013
Section:Gadgets
Author: Bryan Edge-Salois
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Intro, Features & Specifications
The Zeiss Cinemizer OLED glasses are great for watching movies on-the-go, but command a steep price and offer little utility beyond this function. And despite inevitable comparisons to the yet-to-be-released Oculus Rift, the Zeiss Cinemizer OLED glasses don’t provide a true ‘virtual reality’ experience, and are thus a very different animal.

The good news is that you can buy them now. The bad news is that they are very expensive (around $800) and fairly limited in application. The Cinemizer OLED glasses are best used as a simple mobile media device for watching movies. The Cinemizer OLED can also be used as a gaming device, and (potentially) as a training aid or even an accessory for remote controlled vehicles equipped with cameras.

 

Cinemizer OLED
Specifications & Features

Picture

  • Two high-resolution OLED displays (Organic Light Emitting Diode),
    each with 870 × 500 pixels and a fill factor of 100%
  • Simulated image size: 40 inches (= 1 m) at a distance of 2 meters
  • Page ratio: 16:9
  • Color depth: 24-bit RGB
  • Field of View: 30°

3D support

  • Side-by-side/Top-Bottom/Line interleaved
  • Frame Packing with HDMI 1.4 (720p/1080p)
  • cinemizer OLED is supported by NVIDIA 3DTV Play
  • view all supported 3D formats

 

Diopter range

  • Each side individually adjustable from -5 to +2 diopters

 

Pupil distance

  • The optics support a pupil distance (PD) of 59 to 69 mm

 

Adding content

  • HDMI: 640x480p 60Hz, 720x576p 50Hz, 720x480p 60Hz, 1280x720p 50/60Hz, 1920x1080i 50/60Hz, 1920x1080p 50/60Hz, 1920x1080p 24Hz, HDMI 1.4 3D 1080p 24 Hz, HDMI 1.4 3D 720p 60Hz
  • iPod/iPhone: video-capable iPod and iPhone models
    via optional accessories more details
  • AV-In: 3,5mm/4-pin slot for audio & video (PAL/NTSC)
 Price  


The Cinemizer OLED Accessory Bundle

The Cinemizer OLED connects to your PC (or other device) through a control module, that is in turn connected via 2 connectors: one mini-HDMI to HDMI cable, and one mini USB to USB (for power and to charge the Li-ion battery). A 3.5mm to component video cable is also included for when an HDMI connection is unavailable. If the battery is fully charged you can connect the Cinemizer OLED to virtually any device with an HDMI output—game consoles, 3D Blu-Ray players, etc.

The Cinemizer’s Li-ion battery is good for up to 6 hours of mobile viewing time or 2.5 hours for watching HDMI content. Built-in stereo ear buds are included as part of the package, and when not in use they can be placed in small holders attached to the Cinemizer’s frame. You can also disconnect the ear buds from the Cinemizer if you don’t plan on using them.

Each Cinemizer display is an OLED 870x500 resolution display, which combined create an experience roughly equivalent to sitting 6 feet away from a 105cm (about 41”) 16:9 screen.

The Cinemizer OLED is very light and only weighs 120g total, and (according to specifications) only about 75g of weight are placed directly on the bridge of the nose. During testing they felt light and remained perfectly comfortable for an extended movie (probably even more so if you can lay your head back, or perhaps enjoy the experience in a hammock). The Cinemizer OLED also includes two small adjusters for the nose rest to help ensure the best possible comfort.

Because you can’t wear eyeglasses with the Cinemizer, Zeiss built-in independent lens adjusters (diopters) for each eye so they can be adjusted to between -5 to +2 to help ensure good focus, even if you have slightly uneven prescription lenses.

The Cinemizer OLED comes with a compact, hard shell carrying case that stores everything for travel. It’s about double the size of a typical carrying case for sunglasses—compact enough to keep things safe, but not consume an inordinate amount of space in a travel bag.
 

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Gaming Performance

Paired with the $289 head tracking accessory, the Cinemizer OLED could—theoretically—be used as gaming device.  The head tracker is about the size of a typical thumb drive and attaches to either of the ear clips. It adds negligible weight and bulk to the Cinemizer, but it does require an additional USB cable and connection to your PC.

Once connected, the Cinemizer OLED + head tracker function as both a screen and a ‘mouse look’ device that can be used for gaming. The Cinemizer OLED supports games compatible with NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology; at E3 it was being shown with Crysis 3 (in 3D). For testing, Crysis 2 (in 3D) was the primary test bed, along with a collection of both 3D and non-3D games, as well as games in other genres.

Paired with the optional eyeshield ($39 - not pictured above) to seal out external visual distractions and the Cinemizer’s built-in stereo sound, you can definitely get “into” your game a little more. But the experience is still a far cry from the promise of the Oculus Rift, and is really more of a novelty than anything else—and not a particularly good one at that (at least from the PC gaming perspective).

The first issue is screen size, which is just too small. Even at E3 the Cinemizer didn’t really feel like it put you “into” the game. And it’s a liability, because as soon as you need to read a HUD, on-screen text, or almost anything else you won’t be able to.

Another issue specific to PC gaming is that it’s difficult to glance down and see the keyboard (hey, even the best touch typist needs to occasionally glance down during the heat of a game). This is especially problematic, however, when you need to use a key outside the immediate WASD cluster—pressing ‘M’ for a map or ‘J’ for a journal, example. Even without the optional eyeshield this is awkward at best. (This wouldn’t be an issue with console gaming of course.)

The lesson? Much as Nate Mitchell said in our interview about the Oculus Rift, a compelling ‘VR’ device requires more than slapping a screen on your face and replacing the mouse with head tracking.  

But gaming is at best a secondary function of the Cinemizer OLED. Where it truly shines is watching movies—especially on the go.
 

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Movie Performance and Conclusion

True to its name, the Cinemizer OLED is best suited to being a personal home theater on the go.

Initially, I connected it directly to a Samsung 3D Blu-Ray player and popped in a 3D copy of Pixar’s Brave. The image certainly seemed sharp and the 3D was actually excellent. It’s at least as good (if not better)  than watching a 3D movie (using active 3D glasses) on my larger 3D TV.

Part of this is because the Cinemizer (even without the optional eyeshield) blocks external distractions, so it’s just you and the movie—and the optional eyeshield eliminates all that remains of your peripheral vision, making for an even better experience.

The ideal application for the Cinemizer OLED is really as a mobile movie-watching device, be it connected to a tablet, phone, laptop, etc. As long as you’ve got an HDMI output (and don’t mind looking a tad dorky), the Cinemizer OLED excels at watching movies on the go. Combined with the earphones and paired with the eyeshield, you can virtually seal yourself inside the experience—perfect for blocking out the din of a noisy airplane cabin, train ride, bus ride, or anything else. It’s definitely an excellent experience for long flights.

The only potential drawback for mobile applications is battery life, which tops out at 6 hours or less depending on the content. However, there are certainly plenty of ways around this—charging off a laptop, USB quick charge devices, etc.

Regardless, mobile applications are where the Cinemizer OLED truly shines. An adapter kit is also available for iOS users so you can use your iPad/iPhones (which lack HDMI outputs) with the Cinemizer OLED.

The Cinemizer OLED holds a lot of potential, but its real strength is watching movies (3D or 2D) on-the-go. Gaming is a novelty at best—the Cinemizer is no Oculus Rift—and the optional head-tracker adds another $289 to the total price tag.

Which brings us to price. As a portable movie player the Cinemizer is excellent—but would you really pay $800 ($789 currently on Amazon) and another $39 for the optional eyeshield for the privilege?

If you’re a frequent flier/traveler then you may get your money’s worth, but if gaming is important to you at all, you’ll need to weigh that importance with the cost.
 



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