Hands-on with Sony's Personal 3D Viewer

Last night I took one for the DVICE team. I put on Sony's dorky headgear — the Personal 3D Viewer — and gripped the ten and two positions on a Logitech racing wheel and played Gran Turismo 5 through a virtual 150-inch TV. How did it go? Oh ho ho.

I'll be honest, I banged up my car quite a bit, which is to say I totally sucked driving on a simple oval track than I normally would, had I been able to see a real TV in front of me.

The Personal Viewer's been out since late last year for $800. With such a high price, not many people have toyed with it, outside of reviewers who have tested it out.

Putting on the Personal 3D Viewer is a bit of a chore. There are lots of adjustment straps that you need to use to securely fasten the Personal 3D Viewer to your head. But even when you think you've got it just right, the thing slips over your eyes.

Simply put: the Personal 3D Viewer is kind of heavy.

The main issues seems to be the Personal 3D Viewer doesn't sit on your nose properly. In fact, a Sony rep told me it's not supposed to sit on your nose. Nope, instead, the little padding that's grips to your forehead is what's supposed to hold it up. Well, guess what? It doesn't. And I wasn't the only person who demoed it to find that annoying. Unless your noggin is unusually large, you won't find the Personal 3D Viewer fun to put on every time.

There are a bunch of sliders and beneath the two OLED screens (one for each eye) that help adjust the clarity of virtual display, but they seemed rather loose and would slide around if you moved your head around too much (which is what I intentionally did).

Sony claims you can see a 150-inch picture. What I saw felt more like a 50-inch display from about five feet away. Worse is that you can see the peripheral outline of the OLED screens, which was quite bothersome.

At first, I thought it would be awesome to have head-tracking with the Personal 3D Viewer, but after turning my head around and around, I noticed it's probably better that it doesn't have it. As it stands, when you tilt your head, the entire display tilts, which means the picture is always aligned with whatever angle your head is at. This I liked.

Was Gran Turismo any more immersive? Not particularly. I'd say it's a close reboot for something that feels like a cousin of virtual reality, but it's not worth the $800.

The Personal 3D Viewer is novel product created and released by Sony to remind us that the company still knows a thing or two about cutting edge tech. The Personal 3D Viewer is cutting edge; it's just not really useful or comfortable for daily use, which is what I'd expect from what is essentially a $800 TV. We love that it exists, though.

Last thing, having someone else's gross forehead oils slathered all over your own isn't what I'd call fun on the job, but for you guys, I wiped it down as best as I could and put the goggles on. Now you don't won't ever have to. You're welcome.

Posted on location at CES 2012 in Las Vegas.

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