Other Gadgets

Epson Moverio BT-100 review

Sabyasachi Biswas January 16 | Updated on January 15, 2013

Epson Moverio BT-100

Epson Moverio BT-100

Oh come on, this was bound to happen! With all those huge wearable optical devices in our sci-fi flicks, someone was bound to come up with a product like this. And why shouldn’t they – having glasses that one can carry anywhere to watch movies and do more has always been every geek’s and even many non-geeks’ fantasy.

And Epson, which has a long and good history of projecting images, is probably the right manufacturer to mass produce a wearable personal viewer that also supports WiFi and 3D content. And it is see-through, so you don’t have to go bumping into walls, people and other things that you may encounter if you move around while watching a movie.

As a concept, it sounds cool enough a product to have in your travel pack, but how does it really fare, as a finished product? To check this out, I tried on the Moverio BT-100 for a week, drawing stares and questions from everyone who happened to see me using the contraption.

Design and build

They’re just a pair of abnormally large glasses that you can watch movies on, would be the simple answer if I were explaining the product to someone who hadn’t seen it yet. And honestly, the design isn’t that complicated either. The headset is an ensemble of glass and the plastic bands and the projection units are housed inside the panel which sits next to your temple.

It isn’t too light a device, but its weight can be felt noticeably when you put them on. The bands are lined with cushioning on the inner side, making the wear comfortable. You also get a set of interchangeable rubber nose pads, which you can change according to the size of your nose. Thoughtful, I’d say. It also comes with a removable tinted lens shade, which can be used in brighter conditions.

The Moverio BT-100 also comes with plastic adjustment tabs that you can attach to the glasses, if you use prescribed glasses. After attaching these tabs, the BT-100 sits on your glasses normally and the projection angle is still good.

Oddly though, the glasses’ holding bands haven’t been given proper contouring to sit perfectly over one’s ears. To make sure that the headset stayed in place, I had to clamp it over my ears in such a way that my ears folded a little bit. Needless to say, it was a little uncomfortable after a while. Futile too, because the headset would slip a little bit every time I tilted my head forward a little too much.

Though the construction is mainly plastic, the headset doesn’t feel delicate in anyway.

The Moverio BT-100 comes with a pair of mono-earphones that can be plugged into mono output jacks built into the left and right of the headset. Together they produce a spacial stereo effect.

The headset can be attached to the controller through a long wire, which tended to get entangled, and came in the way, and made turning my neck uncomfortable a few times. Otherwise, the controller is decently sized and weighted to fit comfortably in many pockets. It has just enough navigation keys to make life simple with the Moverio, and also a very convenient trackpad to navigate. There is also a lock button for the keys for fumble-fingered folks.

Tech and performance

The device runs on an Android interface. Wait! Before you go ‘yay’, you need to know that it’s Android 2.2 (yes, that old). I’m guessing that this was the OS of choice when the conceptualisation of the device happened, but the white-coats at Epson might not have taken into consideration one huge fact – by the time this device would hit most markets, a bulk of the Android users will already be using at least Ice Cream Sandwich, if not Jelly Bean. And there’s simply no access to the Play Store.

The exact details of the ARM-based processor are not known, but the system handles the Android OS quite smoothly. The graphic unit supports a resolution of 960x540 pixels, which is essentially quarter-HD. The micro-projection unit projects an image at a perceived distance of about 16 feet, on a perceived screen size of 80-inches.

The device doesn’t support too many video formats, which is a disappointment. Only MPEG-4 and H.264 video formats are supported, and MP3 and AAC for audio. But whatever 480p videos I played, had decent clarity, and the image projection was not harsh on the eyes. But while playing 720p or 1080p videos, the system had sluggish decoding and output. Otherwise, streaming videos on YouTube was not a bad experience at all.

3D rendering was also not too bad either, except that the system doesn’t have auto-detect. So you’ll have to switch it manually using a button on the controller, and switch back to 2D once the video is over as the native interface is 2D.

The inbuilt earphones are not too bad, but for a rich experience, I’d suggest you to use your own headphones, preferably noise cancelling, plugged into the 3.5mm jack in the controller, as the deivice comes with Dolby support onboard.

Although Epson claims a battery life of 6 hours, I could get an average of 4 hours on every run.

We say

The device is certainly quite revolutionary in terms of its concept and convenience as a personal viewing device. But the specs and the OS are a little dated. So if you want a device like this, will not be bothered by the lack of Google Play support and limited file format support, this might be a good buy for you.

Rs 42,900

Love – Highly portable, good audio support

Hate – Wobbly fitting, dated specs

>sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on January 15, 2013

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