The $599 package includes a set of special glasses, headphones, and a portable DVD player, all nicely bundled into a convenient carrying case.
The setup consists of two main components, the glasses and the portable DVD gear. The portable DVD player itself is stored in the backpack (it’s more of a “side-pack” than a backpack, but you’ll see that in the upcoming pictures), along with the video power and processing unit. This unit requires 4 AA batteries (not included), and provides power to the glasses. Despite the fact that the video power unit only has one button, I spent at least 10 minutes trying to figure out how to turn it on, but this was primarily my fault, as I had taken all the pieces out of the backpack to use at first. Had I left well enough alone, I would have clearly noticed the single button. Good thing I didn’t pull out the screwdriver!
Aside from the comfort and practicality of the backpack, it is also quite useful in that the Eyetop team clearly spent a lot of time designing a system where the wires were elegantly hidden. I especially began to appreciate this after I took all the pieces out and saw how good a job they had done tidying it all up.
The backpack also provided sufficient access to the DVD player for me to control playback. If there was a front-loading portable DVD player on the market, you’d never have to remove the DVD unit from the backpack. My biggest critique of the system was the supplied Shinco DVD player (it was quite janky!). Fortunately, the Eyetop carrying case comes with a special attachment for the battery pack, just to make it a bit more convenient.
A good friend of LIVEdigitally, Ron, was available to be our fit model while testing the Eyetop DVD player. At just over 6’2″, the straps on the backpack had to be adjusted to fit his frame, but once this was done, the setup worked quite well.
All the cables were long enough to make the unit work without causing Ron to crane his neck or stand uncomfortably. All-in-all, we were satisfied with the comfort of the backpack.
The glasses headset took a bit more work to get right. The key issue was getting the adjustable nose-piece to fit well while showing the video display at the proper angle (we’ll talk more about the viewing experience in a moment). At first, the nose piece wouldn’t budge, and we were concerned about breaking it. Luckily, after a minor struggle, everything seemed to click into place, and Ron got the headset on properly.
Also built into the headset is a pair of stereo headphones. The in-bud earpieces were just fine, although I would personally substitute my noise-canceling headphones in place of the provided ones.
Eyetop DVD provides what they call a “virtual 14-inch screen”. The system is designed to let you watch through one eye, while still being able to see what’s happening in the real world beyond. I found the experience quite surreal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t Salvador Dali surreal, but more David Lynch surreal (yes, yes, I liked Twin Peaks too, but he’s batting about .150 these days).
The viewing area really does appear to be the 14″ screen the company promises, but I found it creates two unpleasant effects:
Overall, I felt the Eyetop DVD was a well-made product, with a lot of attention to putting together a complete package. As far as the viewing experience goes, I found the system to be hard to watch, and have a feeling many adults would feel the same way. Which leads me to think the product might be better suited for teenagers or young adults.
I also believe the company is pricing Eyetop DVD well – $599 for all the included gear is not a bad deal.
I guess we’re not living in IBM’s world yet, but as long as companies continue to innovate and deliver products like the Eyetop DVD, I look forward to seeing that vision come true. I just hope it can be accomplished in a way with a few less side effects.