Your own personal cinema: Sony’s HMZ-T1 reviewed

Because your eyes are so close to the two tiny 19mm screens, the picture manages to look like you’re sitting in a darkened personal cinema. The illusion is quite excellent, and because there is one screen for each eye, you can see a true 3D picture without any need for special glasses.

In our 3D test movie “Tron Legacy,” the effect wasn’t hugely pronounced, but rather as natural as when we saw the film in both the cinema and on our passive 3D TV. Viewed on the HMZ-T1, the colours and contrast of the picture are quite strong, and it’s easy to see the quality of components Sony has used in this headset.

Gaming is also possible in 3D, and we tried Sony’s “Uncharted 3” – a title with a 3D mode – as our test title here. We certainly weren’t disappointed when we jumped into the game and found the depth effects to be instantly noticeable as our main character Nathan Drake punched the daylights out of some English pub brawlers.

In our initial experience, gaming certainly made the HMZ-T1 the most fun, but it’s also very good for watching movies, even when they’re not 3D.

If you don't use the rubber light blockers, you'll want to stay out of the light or block extra light using your hands.

Most people can’t afford a 19 metre screen for their home – we know we can’t – and with the HMZ-T1, that’s what your brain thinks it sees. That huge screen experience is surrounded by a black border, similar to what you’d feel if you went to the movies. That said, it’s a trip you have to make by yourself.

At $899 per headset, the HMZ-T1 is an expensive trip to your own personal cinema, and it’s not terribly comfortable for long periods. We’re not sure if we could make it through a full two-hour movie, and would start with 30 minute intervals to see if we can adjust.

This reviewer managed a good half hour before the pressure on the bridge of our nose became too much. Other GadgetGuy staffers became uncomfortable more quickly and found they needed to remove the headset before this time, so it’s really going to come down to what level of comfort you can become accustomed to.

The sound could do with some work.

Also surprising is the lack of a quality audio system, especially for a company known for making its own headphones. In the HMZ-T1, Sony has provided two small flat supra-aural headphones, but the sound on offer isn’t up to the same quality provided by the two excellent OLED panels. In fact, we were left wanting something a little more enveloping, something more becoming of a loud booming movie cinema like our eyes are seeing.

Our last gripe is at the HDMI pass through box, a fundamental requirement of the HMZ-T1. To use this headset, it needs to be plugged into the supplied pass through box, a device that takes in an HDMI feed, sends it to the headset, and then sends an identical feed out to a TV, so everyone else you know can watch what you’re watching, not just yourself. You don’t need the HDMI out plugged in to make the headset work, it’s just provided in case more people want to watch the telly when you’re in your little closed off headset world.

Our problem with this is that the entire headset stops being portable when you realise that you’re tethered to a box that requires its own power.

The required HDMI box means you can’t take the headset with you for use in a portable environment, such as an aeroplane or a long car ride. You’re basically stuck, and rather than just put the HDMI in port on the headset and supply a rechargeable battery, you have to rely on the switcher for both power and video transmissions, something that’s a little saddening.

The rubber nose pad is replaceable.


Probably the coolest and geekiest piece of kit that’s ever come across this reviewer’s desk, the Sony HMZ-T1 is a fantastically cool gadget even with its flaws. It’s not perfect and is a little on the expensive side, but if you’re looking for a way to keep the man cave compact, we’d certainly start here.


Value for money
Reader Rating0 Votes
One of the best 3D images we've seen; You'll be the coolest kid in class (or at work);
Headphones could be better; Can be uncomfortable for long periods of time; Required HDMI switcher means that it's not portable at all;