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List of the Available and Up to Date 3D-capable HMD Devices

February 23rd, 2013 · No Comments · 3D / AR / VR / HMD

We’ve had various Head Mounted Display (HMD) consumer oriented devices some with 3D support as well for years already and they still haven’t become a popular and widespread solution for Virtual Reality applications and gaming in particular. Aside from the fact that these devices have been updated in terms of resolution by using newer display technology and getting somewhat more affordable prices nothing much has been improved to making them a more suitable solution for VR applications and making them more attractive to consumers. Or at least that was the situation before the Oculus Rift has been announced and now, just a few more days before the first developer units of the Rift start shipping it is time to take a look at what other alternatives are currently available at the moment and what they offer in terms of basic specifications and features as well as how they differ from the Rift.

Oculus Rift Developer Version:

– Resolution: 1280×800 (640×800 per eye)
– Panel Type: LCD
– Video Input: DVI/HDMI
– 3D Input Type: Side by Side with optical distortion
– Field of View: 110 degrees diagonal (adjustable)
– Horizontal FOV: 90 degrees
– Weight: 220 grams
– Head Tracking: Available
– Price: $300 USD for the dev kit
Official Website


Sony HMZ-T1 / HMZ-T2:

– Resolution: 1280×720 per eye
– Panel Type: OLED
– Video Input: HDMI
– 3D Input Type: HDMI 1.4 frame packaging
– Field of View: 51 degrees diagonal
– Horizontal FOV: 45 degrees
– Weight: 420 grams (330 grams for the T2)
– Head Tracking: Not available
– Price: $799.99 USD
Official Website


Silicon MicroDisplay ST1080:

– Resolution: 1920×1080 per eye
– Panel Type: LCoS
– Video Input: HDMI
– 3D Input Type: HDMI 1.4 frame packaging
– Field of View: 45 degrees diagonal
– Horizontal FOV: ?
– Weight: 180 grams
– Head Tracking: Not available
– Price: $799 USD
Official Website


Carl Zeiss Cinemizer OLED:

– Resolution: 870×500 per eye
– Panel Type: OLED
– Video Input: HDMI
– 3D Input Type: HDMI 1.4 frame packaging
– Field of View: 30(?) degrees diagonal
– Horizontal FOV: 30 degrees
– Weight: 120 grams
– Head Tracking: Available (optional)
– Price: $749 USD
Official Website


Vuzix Wrap 1200VR:

– Resolution: 852×480 per eye
– Panel Type: LCD
– Video Input: VGA
– 3D Input Type: Side by Side
– Field of View: 35 degrees diagonal
– Horizontal FOV: ?
– Weight: 85 grams
– Head Tracking: Available
– Price: $499 USD
Official Website

As you can see there are quite a few different approaches, offering different features and with different specifications. What is common for most of these devices, apart from the Rift is that they all offer much lower FOV and that makes it very hard to achieve a good sense of immersion. With the implementation of the Rift for achieving a much larger FOV we see that what others needed was to change their approach, something that hasn’t been done for years in the segment of HMD devices. The side effect is that you get a device that needs a special kind of input, so you just cannot connect it to a PC and start using, something that you can do with all other devices mentioned here. And while this lack of universal support might be a bit of problem at first it also ensures that getting official support in an application or a game for the Rift can ensure great experiences and immersion, even though the resolution is lower than on some other competitive products. For example Sony HMZ-T1 and HMZ-T2, Silicon MicroDisplay ST1080 and the Carl Zeiss Cinemizer OLED all use HDMI 1.4 and rely on frame packaging for stereo 3D image support and the Vuzix Wrap 1200VR offers Side by Side support. This makes it very easy to use these devices for gaming with the help of already available software solutions such as Nvidia’s 3DTV Play or DDD’s TriDef 3D software, but what you get might not be very immersive as something that you’d expect form such a HMD, in a sense it will be much close to using a normal 3D monitor placed at a larger distance than you normally would use it from. There are other things that can be considered, but in the end it should be all about the experience you are getting, right?

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Oculus Rift vs Sony HMZ-T1 vs Silicon MicroDisplay ST1080

August 2nd, 2012 · 13 Comments · 3D / AR / VR / HMD

Among the more recently released Head Mounted Displays there are the Sony HMZ-T1 and Silicon MicroDisplay ST1080 so you can say that these will be the major competitors for the new Oculus Rift project. I’ve put the more important specs of these three HMD devices in the table above so that you can easily make a comparison between them.

As you can see both the HMZ-T1 and the ST1080 use HDMI 1.4 interface for the video (2D and 3D), and that makes them compatible not only with PCs, but all kinds of other consumer electronic devices as well as smartphones and tablets – HDMI 1.4 in an industry standard supporting 3D content. On the other hand the Oculus Rift uses DVI, though with adapter you can get it compatible with HDMI as well, but there is no support for HDMI 1.4 frame packaging available. Furthermore the Oculus Rift not only needs Side by Side input for the 3D, but the image also needs to be processed by the PC adding optical distortion adjustment that produces a correct 3D image on the device. This means that you’d need a compatible game to output in the specific format required by the device, but hopefully we’ll get a software solution that could process the standard input from any game adding the needed image distortion, a hardware implementation doing that on the device itself could be possible, but there you need to be careful with the input lag. Either way if there is no way to provide support for input from games and other content that is not specially optimized for Oculus Rift, then the device may turn out to be a bit of disappointment having to wait a lot for specially optimized games and initially there won’t be that many…

There is a lot of talk going around the lower resolution of the initial development version of Oculus Rift, though that the developers say that for the consumer version the resolution might be increased. Actually the lower resolution as compared to the other two alternatives is not that much of a problem, if you’ve used a lower resolution HMD device you should be aware of that already, but I suppose than not that many people actually have. What is much more of a problem with other HMD devices is the low FOV the offer the user, so instead of getting an immerse experience you get a feeling like you are in a dark tunnel and the image is like the light at the end of the tunnel. Oculus Rift promises more than double the field of view as compared to what Sony and Silicon MicroDisplay currently have in their products, so the immersion factor should be much better and that is more important than to have an insane amount of pixels on the display.

The head tracking option in the Oculus Rift if implemented properly in games and software can really help further the immersion effect as it will allow you to use much bigger virtual display for example by just moving your head around, that however needs to be properly implemented in games and software. And another thing that needs to be addressed seriously is the game controls when wearing the HMD as this could be an issue, though most gamers don’t need to look at their keyboard and mouse while they play anyway. Anyway Oculus Rift is indeed a very promising product and it is already receiving a lot of deserved support from developers and users from all around the world, but all the hype aside we’ll have to wait and see hat the dev kits will look like and what will they support first, before actually starting to talk about the consumer version and its wide availability and adoption…

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