Emagin has made a bold attempt to bring a HMD to the general consumer. In my opinion it has fallen short though. I want to make it clear that the 800 dollar price tag is not a factor in this opinion. When considering a good LCD monitor runs around $400.00 USD, I would gladly pay $800.00 for a Z800.
The problem lies in a few areas that are far from insurmountable. Please try to keep in mind that none of the cons I have written about are complete shows stoppers. The unit is functional and after awhile I imagine a person could become more comfortable with it. For the purpose of this review, and in my opinion, the Z800 could use refinements before I would call it ground breaking technology.
First, the eyepiece focus issue needs to be addressed. It may be a simple fix, but it is by far the most important one in my opinion. One eye going out of focus frequently quickly becomes tedious and is a real strain on one’s eyes. The eyepieces need to be fixed in place somehow.
Second, I would like to see a greater range for the eyepiece travel horizontally to accommodate a larger selection of eye widths. I am an average sized man (7 ¼ hat) and I found the eye pieces were slightly too close together. A wider range would surely benefit the unit and may reduce the loss of focus I mentioned above.
Third, the resolution really should come up to at least 1024×768. As I have said the 800×600 is not really a problem performance wise. The problem lies mostly with software. Maybe software designers in the future will take into account that 800×600 still needs to be available to some of the consumers out there. Personally I feel 1024×768 should supported by the Z800 because 800×600 quality is a little lower than what most users are accustomed to. The wide screen effect does compensate this to a reasonable view. Small details like the needles in a cockpit, such as the A-10’s barber pole for airspeed, can get muddy in appearance. Very small detail also suffers some degradation regardless of whether it is rendered in 3D or normal view. These are a mild annoyance at most. It just seems it could be better.
Finally, the refresh rate has to come up, especially in a product using 3D. I cannot tell you if this is technologically necessary. It stands to reason that a higher rate would reduce some of the panning problems, or eye stress at the very least. My opinion.
I had very high hopes for this product when I received it. Many of those hopes have been realized. With a few refinements I am confident that the Z800 has a very good chance of being as useful as a Track IR and HOTAS to flight simmers. Emagin is on the verge of one of the greatest technological advances in simming, gaming, and/or personal viewing technology. HMD’s look to be in our future, with a little attention to detail, that future could be very bright.
See the video preview at Emagin’s web site here.
Reviewer’s System Specs
- AMD 3700+ San Diego
- 2GB RAM
- GeForce 6800 GTOC @78.01drvr
- Audigy 2ZS Platinum
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