Product review – Myvu Crystal personal video eyewear

Welcome to my review of the new Myvu Crystal personal video glasses. The Myvu Crystal is a personal video viewer which brings the feeling of large screen TV up close and personal. I’ve had a weird fascination with products like this for many years, which started in the late 90’s when I spent a fortune on the horrible Sony Glasstron video goggles.

Technology has come a long way since then, and the Myvu Crystal incorporates the very best in optics and LCD technology to bring you the highest resolution of any consumer personal video eyewear on the market.

I’m sure that many of you will read “personal video eyewear” and draw a complete blank as to what I’m referring to, so let me explain what this product does. The Myvu Crystal looks like a large pair of glasses, but built into these glasses are 2 tiny high-resolution TV screens, which bring the image right up to your eyes. Because the image is so close, you get the feeling that you are looking at a large TV. A previous generation Myvu personal video eyewear was reviewed here on Gadling last year, and even with the lower resolution of those glasses, the reviewer was blown away by the quality, so imagine how great that looks when the quality is doubled, like in the ones I’m reviewing here.For my review, I hooked the Myvu Crystal up to my iPod, and sat back to enjoy a couple of episodes of Family Guy. The glasses weigh just 3 ounces (85 grams) and the entire system fits nicely in the included carrying pouch.

To watch video, you plug your iPod or other media device into the control box/battery pack, then plug the glasses into the control pod. The cables are thin enough that they won’t get in your way. On the front of the control pod is a round button for controlling the volume and brightness, and a power button.

On the top of the unit is a plug for the video glasses, and on the bottom is the video input jack. On the side is a mini-USB connector for powering and charging the system. The battery pack has enough power to keep the unit on for about 4 hours, which should get you through an entire feature length movie.

The glasses feel nice and sturdy, and the arms have an extra spring loaded hinge which lets them extend past the width of the unit, which should mean you’ll be able to wear them, no matter what size your head is. Audio is supplied by headphones attached to the glasses.

These headphones are high quality noise isolating earpieces, designed by Ultimate Ears. The sound is fantastic, and most certainly better than the standard headphones included with most music players. On the front of the glasses is a rubber nose bridge, which lets them rest on your nose when you are watching something. I found the weight on the nose piece to be slightly annoying when you are sitting up straight, but when you lean back a little, the weight tends to be less of a problem.

Of course, the most important part of a product like this, is the video quality. And that really is the strongest selling point of the Myvu Crystal – picture quality is stunning. As I mentioned earlier, I was able to relax and watch close to 2 hours of video, without ever feeling any kind of discomfort. The entire experience takes a little getting used to, as your eyes are used to watching TV from a decent distance. But once your eyes adjust to the image, it’s just like watching a large screen TV, except this one is right in front of you.

Between the good video quality and the superb headphones, you really do get to enjoy what you are watching, without having to settle for watching a movie on your 1″ MP3 player screen. Of course, this brings me to a major dilemma; you’ll have a product capable of showing a movie, but you can’t help feeling like a bit of dork wearing them. There is no denying it, you will look rather silly, but you’ll have the last laugh when your fellow passengers are staring at their tiny seatback movie screen on the flight, while you enjoy your own personal movie theater.

The Myvu Crystal personal eyewear costs $299 for an iPod or universal version, or $325 for a version with both iPod and universal cables. The universal cable kit contains cables for most non-iPod devices, including portable DVD players, select Nokia mobile phones and some camcorders. You can purchase the Myvu Crystal directly from Myvu, or though one of many retail outlets which can be found using their retail locator. The Muvy Crystal is available in black and amber, and you can see these colors on the Myvu website.

Included with each version is a carrying pouch, a USB charging cable, the control pod, and of course the unit itself. Myvu does not include an AC charger, but you can charge the product using your laptop or any other USB charger, like the ones used for your iPod.

All in all I’m very impressed with the product, I think it has great potential for anyone who is stuck flying in the back of the plane, without the luxury of their own personal TV screen. The price is surprisingly low considering the quality of the optics, and once you get past the “dork effect”, you’ll be able to recline your seat and enjoy the movie of your choice. The glasses are also a great way to watch the kind of movie you may not want to share with your fellow passengers, I’m not endorsing the use of the glasses for watching an in-flight porno, but I’m sure we’ve all been watching an iPod movie with the occasional nudity and feared the judgmental eyes of our seatmates.