Sony unveils its head-mounted 3D display

Sony has surprised attendees to the IFA consumer electronics show at Berlin with the announcement of the HMZ-T1 Personal 3D Viewer, a high-definition head-mounted display which simulates a 750-inch TV.

While most of the display industry is busy trying to make large-format TVs that can display 3D content without the need for uncomfortable and daft-looking glasses, Sony has decided to go the other way: the Personal 3D Viewer is a behemoth of a headset containing one OLED display for each eye.

While the size of the each display is somewhat compact, measuring just 0.7 inches on the diagonal, the resolution is insane: Soy claims that each display is 1280x720, offering native display of 720p HD content and downscaling of 1080p content from Blu-rays and the like.

The headset also includes simulated 5.1 surround sound technology, dubbed 'Virtualphones,' which recreates the immersion of a good surround-sound system using just a pair of over-ear cans built into the headset.

It's not the first product of its ilk, of course: previous head-mounted displays have been used to create the illusion of large-format displays in the past, and some have even offered the same 3D capabilities as Sony's latest device, but they all used low-resolution displays. Sony's use of HD panels means that, in theory, the HMZ-T1 should be significantly more impressive than its spiritual predecessors.

Sadly, it's also incredibly cumbersome looking. Although the company has done its best with the official photography, using serious-looking men with serious-looking designer stubble to show off how seriously cool you can look using one of the devices, it comes across as bulky and ridiculous, extending far in front of the user in order to create the depth required for non-headache-inducing stereoscopic vision.

The company also has history to contend with: head-mounted displays, whether in 3D or 2D format, have fail to capture the public's imagination since the Nintendo Virtual Boy fell flat. While Sony's reinterpretation - which is compatible with the company's Blu-ray devices and PlayStation 3 console, naturally - might boast far more impressive specifications, that might not be enough to tempt the masses into a purchase.

Unfortunately, Sony has yet to share a release date or - more importantly - pricing for the device.