Well that was disappointing. My HMZ-T1 turned up today and I've spent maybe 70-80 minutes with it so far.
It's going back.
Regardless of how anything else is with it, I basically have to crush my nose to get the image centred and in focus. Even if it were comfortable like that (it isn't, of course) I can't get it tight enough with the straps to hold in place properly like that, despite my forehead and nose being bright red after that much use, and having a splitting headache now.
Despite the fact that it's focused at a distance of 60ft, the image did not feel like that at all
for me. It's just like I was up close (maybe 5-6ft away) to a relatively small screen. So the image did improve when I put my glasses on (I only need a minor correction for distance viewing so I often don't) but it didn't feel that far away.
I think it's probably the internal reflections that break the illusion. I was in a dark room, but there were two very obvious "rings" around the image in my vision at all times, and lines down the side of the OLED chip itself that were being lit up by the screen.
The image size was definitely smaller than I have with the distance I normally sit from my 46" HX900. I thought I was sitting back about 4-5ft, but I guess I must subconsciously be leaning forward and sitting more like 3ft from the screen. (60 degree FOV)
Any amount of ambient light destroys the picture, which is the opposite of the HX900. (I'm using it right now in bright daylight without any problems)
The optics seem poor. The image is full of chromatic aberrations (color fringing) and no matter how I hold the unit to my face, I cannot get either eye to have edge-to-edge focus.
As I shift the lenses in or out, different areas of the screen are in focus. With them centred, that allows most of the image to be in focus. As you move them either in or out, the focus shifts to the inside or outside edges of the image. Central was not
optimal for me based on the test they have you use to set the distance though.
Black level seems good, but is worse than my HX900 with fade-to-black, as the HX900 is a local-dimming LCD that turns the backlight off. With mixed contrast scenes it's a bit of a toss-up really, the HX900 can show some blooming (a minor issue for me personally as it has less impact on the image than CRTs ever had with their floating black level) or internal reflections lighting up the image with the HMZ-T1. I think I probably prefer the HX900 here to be honest.
Definitely better than the HX900 in game mode though, which lowers it to around 3,000:1 contrast. (with white at 100 nits)
Gradation was very disappointing, with obvious banding in the image that is not present on my HX900 even with all the processing disabled. I would not say the HX900 is perfect
(I have yet to find anything as good as a CRT in this regard) but the HMZ-T1 is a definite step down from it.
I don't really want to judge colour as I didn't spend too much time looking over material I'm familiar withCasino Royale is my "go-to" film for checking color reproduction as I'm really familiar with how that is supposed to look, but I was mostly checking out darker films like Tron and Fight Club, but it looked pretty good. No problems that were immediately obvious, which is a good thing.
Motion handling... it seemed good in that I did not notice any kind of blurring at all, but films were hard to watch. I didn't spend enough time looking at anything to see if the problem was simply 24p judder or 3:2 playback with a 24Hz input.
I used to be strongly against motion interpolation, but with the HX900 Sony managed to get the balance right between filmic movement so that things don't look sped-up, and smoothing things out so that panning doesn't judder. With the exception of complex panning scenes, it's mostly artifact free, and after a year of that, I don't think I can go back.
So how is 3D on it? Fantastic
. I would not say it's 100% natural, but I think that's just the nature of how 3D is rendered today more than anything else. There's no crosstalk between the eyes, no dimming so the image is bright and sharp. (as sharp as the optics allow, anyway)
I had a quick run around Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Skyrim and DiRT 3 and it all looked fantastic.
After the first couple of weeks of owning my HX900, I never went back to using 3D, because 720p on a 1080p panel looks really ugly, and frankly there's a massive degradation in image quality when you switch to 3D and put the glasses on. With this, if it fit me and was comfortable I'd probably be running everything I could in 3D if I had the option.
Pixel structure is definitely visible, I was surprised at how low resolution 720p felt when playing games compared to 1080p on my LCD, even though they were both 1:1 mapped. (and all games I played scale the UI)
I also noticed a "shimmer" to the screens similar to what you see on matte antiglare LCD panels that I thought was a thing of the past.
There's also what I would call "crosstalk" on the displays, but I don't know if that's the correct term. I don't mean this in a 3D sense, but if you open up a folder with a list of items in them for example, you get black bands extending across the whole image where there's an item with text. This is also common on PDPs.
Similar to this:
Because it requires a dark room to work properly, and the optics are poor, I'd much rather have a projector than this in its current state. Personally I'm just going to stick with my HX900 and do without 3D for now.
This has left me very disheartened. As much as I want HMDs to become a reality, I'm not convinced they can fix all of these issues even if there is another revision next year, some of them seem like they may be fundamental issues with head-mounted displays in general.