I was never expecting that Vuzix’s iWear AV310 Widescreen glasses would replace my big-screen TV. But I did think that this “wearable display,” which the company claims can create the experience of viewing a 52-inch screen from nine feet away, could be fun. Sadly, I was wrong. While the glasses delivered an impressive-looking picture, they were so uncomfortable to wear that I was barely able to sit through a movie with them on.
Vuzix’s AV310 widescreen is just one of several different versions of “video eyewear” that the company offers. The AV310 comes with an adapter that can connect to iPhones (s aapl) and iPods, and a composite A/V cable that can be used to connect to any gadget with a composite A/V output, including many DVD players, cable boxes, DVRs and more. (Additional cables are available for purchase from Vuzix.)
Hooking the glasses up to my iPhone was easy; you just plug them in and turn them on. What’s not easy is wearing them. The glasses weigh 4 ounces, which doesn’t sound heavy — until they’re perched on your face. The weight isn’t the only drawback; I also had trouble adjusting the nose bridge. No matter how I adjusted it, the contraption pinched my nose — which isn’t very big, I swear!
What I do have, though, are small ears, and I found the earbuds (which are attached to the arms of the glasses) too big to ever fit comfortably. Other users may have better luck with the AV310’s earbuds, which are about the same size as the white buds that come with all iPods. I’ve always found the iPod’s earbuds unwearable, too, but I may be in the minority on that.
Uncomfortable fit aside, the AV310 worked very well, delivering a crisp, clear picture. The glasses offer two 428×240 displays, which you see as one screen when you wear them. I was easily able to adjust the focus — the AV310 has two focus dials, one under each eye — to my liking. The picture looked colorful and sharp, though it wasn’t quite as clear as viewing 1080p HD content, and the sound quality was surprisingly good.
But I never, not for one second, felt that I was actually looking at a 52-inch screen from nine feet away. Perhaps it was the weight of the glasses and their uncomfortable fit that distracted me. Or maybe it was the fact that no matter what I did, I could always see the frame of the glasses around the virtual big-screen display. I was always aware that I was looking at a smallish screen inside a smallish pair of glasses.
I found the AV 310 video eyewear most comfortable when I was lying down, as this seemed to make them feel just a bit lighter. I could see wearing these while lying in bed, perhaps. But they cost $250, and I’d rather spend that money on a good-quality (though small, for sure) HDTV or even a projector. The picture quality would be better and the viewing experience would be a far more pleasant one.