Vuzix iWear Video Headphones Review: Superlative-Defying

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Vuzix iWear Video Headphones Review: Superlative-Defying

Today we've got something downright extraordinary today to review; our friends at the Max Borges Agency sent out, though on a trial basis only, a set of Vuzix iWear video headphones. I ran this system through its paces with a variety of audio and video options and the end result, almost universally, was a constant string of spectacular events.

The Vuzix iWear video headphones are basically what they say they are: a set of headphones with a video screen option, such that the end result looks like viewing a 125-inch screen from a distance of 10 feet. Packin a 40mm driver with frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, some impressive sounds can be had here. Throw in the twin one million color pixel HD displays, backed up by 24-bit true color display and your choice of 2D or 3D video support, and you'll not only be able to watch anything, but listen to it as well. The audio part of the headphones is a complete ear-covering system, so outside noises will be very difficult to hear. The system comes with augmented reality camera addition capabilities, a point-cloud sensor system, and a light shield included to make the system more immersive. Several adjustment mechanisms are located right on the ear cup to change brightness, adjust volume, and shift from 2D to 3D.

The Vuzix iWear needs to be charged, and thankfully, it comes with the necessary cords built right in. A USB cord is part of the system--it's on the same cable as the HDMI plugin--and if you can plug both in at the same time, it seems to work without incident. At least, that's what happened for me. The earphones are indeed ear-covering and very closely sound-blocking; after putting them on, I could hardly hear myself snapping my fingers from a distance of about three feet. My own pulse was audible. I spent a couple moments briefly panicking, thinking that I couldn't get them on, or couldn't get them on over my glasses, but that proved to be a fear wholly in vain; several points of adjustment are on hand and quickly size this to fit, even over prescription glasses.

Using my Xbox 360 as a test bed, I proceeded to engage in all manner of video and audio sources alike. Trying out YouTube opened up a whole new realm of entertainment possibility: the Ocean dreaming DVD on YouTube offered spectacular sound and video alike, which was actually much more impressive than a simple DVD promotional video on YouTube should have been. Stepping up to a DVD of Warner Bros.' "IMAX: Under The Sea" was even more amazing, and nearly felt like looking out at the underwater world via a large porthole in an actual submarine.

In what was perhaps the most stunning revelation of the evening, I soon switched to playing Fallout: New Vegas. That game looked almost like a whole new game if I hadn't known what was going on for six years prior. The colors were somehow sharper than they were on even my 46 inch LCD Toshiba display, and new and unexpected details emerged, like individual blades of grass in some of the desert shrubs. It was actually a lot more fun to pull out a minigun on some of Caesar's Legion this way, even if it was a little loud.

Essentially, this is a thoroughly magnificent experience. It's not without a fault or two, but these are shockingly minor. For instance, I'll warn you that it's almost painfully easy to smudge one of the view lenses, so keep a cleaning cloth very nearby. Speaking of "very nearby", that's how far you're going to have to be from the video device, because the cord for this thing is shockingly short. It's maybe four feet long, give or take, and that means you're not going to be plugging this into your Blu-ray player from the couch. No, you're going to have to move the Blu-ray player to the couch, or the other way around. Given what this system can actually do, though, this isn't a bad thing. This is a minor problem that can be worked around and is well worth working around.

Naturally, a system this amazing costs an arm and a leg, and checking prices on Amazon reveals a $499 price tag. That's only a couple hundred dollars less than some breeds of large-screen 4K television. For those with not much space who want some really impressive video, though, this is the place to start looking. It's better with some devices than with others--for a laptop with an HDMI port, this might be the single best gaming peripheral around--but whatever device it's used with, it's going to present fantastic sound, terrific visuals, and an all-around experience that defies superlatives.

Pros: Incredible video experience, top-notch audio, ultra-customizable fit

Cons: Huge price tag, easily smudged screen, ultra-short connection cables

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