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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

glasstron_big.gif (9786 bytes)
Sony Glasstron PLM-A35

by Sony

Ups: Portable video viewing; big picture; super cool design; enhances first person games. 

Downs:  Some people may have trouble focusing; resolution isn't great for text.

System Reqs:
For use with any device that has standard or SVHS outputs.

glasstronsmall.gif (6986 bytes)Sony has done it again. They’ve made our dreams into reality. Well, they’re dang close, that’s for sure. The Sony Glasstron is a pair of goggles you can’t see through. Rather, there are two 0.55-inch LCD screens whose images combine to give the effect of viewing a 52-inch screen 6.5 feet away. It is a Personal LCD Projector. Wow, that just sounds so cool. In addition, it has a built-in sound system. The two Sony ear bud headphones are remarkably clear and provide a fully immersive experience when wearing the unit.

We got to test the Glasstron in the lovely GF! offices for the past couple of weeks, and our reactions were mixed. First off, all the visually impaired folks on staff were upset that they still had to wear their glasses under the Glasstron. They had expected that since the screens are so close they would be able to see television without corrective lenses, myopic dreamers they are. Unfortunately, the Glasstron doesn’t work that way. Fortunately, the Glasstron did accommodate the wearing of glasses underneath it, so they could use it. Still, we had a couple of GF! staffers who just couldn’t make their eyes bring the screens into focus. These are the same folks who can’t see those Magic Eye posters. But for most of us, the Glasstron worked just fine. Or at least, as fine as it is supposed to.

The Glasstron is really meant to go with the portable video devices Sony has put out. The Watchman TV, the Handycam, and their portable DVD player are the obvious devices for which the Glasstron would be a stellar accessory. Hunkering over, looking at small screens, is just an invitation for head and neck pain, so the Glasstron would allow viewers a clearer, bigger, and more comfortable picture. However, we don’t have any of those. We have some friends with some of these devices, and they agree that the Glasstron sounds remarkable. We did plug them into our stationary DVD player and television, and it was fun watching. The picture is about as good as a regular television, only bigger, and, again, you can watch in any position. Laying down, watching the Daily Show on your back is pretty fun – kind of like the best part of being at the dentist’s office.

But to play video games on your back is even better; sitting up takes so much valuable energy. We plugged it into a variety of systems, including our PlayStation, and it worked pretty well, at least for some games. Driving and FPS games were, obviously the coolest experience. The sense of speed and being "in the game" were definitely enhanced. I was a little disappointed that the screens didn’t encompass my whole field of vision, but that’s not what’s advertised, either. For some titles, the Glasstron was perfect. The resolution isn’t so ideal, though. Text was very difficult to make out, which made text-oriented games, like RPGs and games with lots of menus, almost impossible to play.

Overall, the Glasstron is still a product of developing technology. With a price tag of $499, it’s targeted at the consumer who has a lot of disposable income and wants the newest, coolest thing. For that guy, the Glasstron is a must-have. For the rest of us, it is a glimpse into what will probably become a normal choice in viewing format. It would make sense for airlines to offer Glasstrons for in-flight entertainment. Sony is constantly at the forefront of technological innovation, and the Glasstron shows that once again. It’s the kind of geek-chic that makes even normal folks stop and notice.

--Shawn Rider