Macworld Expo 2006: MicroOptical myVu Personal Media Viewer

Macworld Expo 2006: MicroOptical myVu Personal Media Viewer 1

Over the last week, we’ve tested three different wearable video displays for the fifth-generation iPod: Icuiti’s iWear, eMagin’s eyeBud, and now MicroOptical’s myVu ($270), which is surprisingly compelling despite its status as the lowest priced option in the trio. Billed as a “Personal Media Viewer,” myVu is a thin and lightweight pair of glasses that rest somewhere in the middle of your nose. Like the other products, it lets you use a screen mounted right in front of your eyes to watch movies and photos stored on an iPod.

Macworld Expo 2006: MicroOptical myVu Personal Media Viewer 2

Like the “not to exceed $600” eyeBud, myVu uses a single screen and is powered by a battery pack strapped at all times to your iPod. MicroOptical’s implementation of this idea is a bit more advanced in some ways than what we saw from the early-stage eMagin product, though, packaging a nice iPod case with its six-hour battery pack, which isn’t terribly large. But myVu’s 320×240 resolution and screen quality – at least for the moment – is lower than the 800×600 eyeBud’s, with less color saturation and detail. It is designed to give the appearance of a 27” TV screen at a distance of 6 feet away. MicroOptical says that a soon-to-be-released revision will improve the screen’s colors, leaving the resolution and size identical.

Macworld Expo 2006: MicroOptical myVu Personal Media Viewer 3

myVu’s display choice is fine for the iPod’s standard video encoding resolution, but it’s not as clear and bright as eMagin’s OLED screen – no surprise given the tremendous price difference. However, Icuiti’s similarly-sized headset, with two separate 320×240 screens and no need for a battery pack, provides some tangible advantages in an only slightly more expensive ($300) package. MicroOptical touts its one-piece, simple design, which is apparently very sturdy and resilient, as a major advantage over both of the other, more modular competitors: you can even insert myVu-specific optical lenses inside if you have a need for vision correction.

Macworld Expo 2006: MicroOptical myVu Personal Media Viewer 4

From a comfort perspective, myVu does pretty well. The major difference between it and the eyeBud is that myVu’s display is mounted between your eyes rather than in front of your right eye, so both eyes can focus centrally upon it. MicroOptical has also designed the glasses to allow you to view the world around you instead of the screen just by looking above and below the display – the mounting position in the middle of your nose makes this possible. We also liked myVu’s integrated silicone rubber earphones, which fit our ears comfortably and didn’t dangle as awkwardly as some of the others we’ve tested.

Macworld Expo 2006: MicroOptical myVu Personal Media Viewer 5

We’ll provide additional coverage of myVu in the near future. Our first take is that it’s a compelling option for 5G iPod users – a step in the right direction on both pricing and features for the average iPod owner – though improved screen quality would obviously help make the package even more compelling.

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