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Real World Review: MyVu Personal Media Viewer

Volume Number: 23 (2007)
Issue Number: 03
Column Tag: Real World Reviews

Real World Review: MyVu Personal Media Viewer

Carry a big TV around with you and your iPod

by Michael R. Harvey

The one bad thing about the fifth generation iPods with video is that the screen is really too small for watching video, and doesn't lend it self to viewing for long periods of time. It just kind of sucks when you try it. There are a couple of products just coming out that solve the problem, and one of our favorites is the myvu personal media viewer from MicroOptical. We got our first look at myvu when it was announced and demonstrated at the 2006 Macworld Expo. It was finally released in December, and looked to get a good reception again in San Francisco this past January.

As you can see in the image above, the myvu looks pretty much like a pair of sunglasses that have been wired up. What those sunglasses do essentially is display in front of your eyes the equivalent of a 27" television as seen from six feet away. The effect is amazing, and very watchable. The glasses don't completely block your view, however. You can still see around and over the display. You may find this either good or bad, but in our testing, seeing over the display was only minimally distracting when there was a lot of activity going on nearby. Using them sitting in an aircraft seat was no problem.

The head set has some really good sound isolating ear buds integrated into them. The unit comes with several different sized pads to fit your ear canals, and are very comfortable. They are very much like the ones Shure has on it's line of ear buds. Sound quality is quite nice,, better than you'd get from a real 27" television.

The head set unit is very lightweight and comfortable sitting on your face while being worn. The cable that trails off to go to the iPod runs off the back of your left ear, keeping it out of the way. There are several different sized nose clips that are each adjustable, to help customize the fit even further. For those with prescription glasses, an insert can be ordered from the myvu web site that will fit in front of the display.

The cable running off the glasses has a control pad about mid-way down its length. It has controls for volume, forward, back, play/pause, and brightness. From there, there cable plugs into the battery unit (the included wall wart and car chargers also plug in the dock connector on the end of the cable). Another dock connector links the battery to the iPod. The battery unit is also a protective case that will hold either the 30, 60, or 80 GB 5th generation iPods quite nicely. In fact, MicroOptical should think about releasing just the battery as a stand- alone product, as they've done that bit better than most every other external battery out there today.

Wrapping up the hardware is a good quality protective case, a soft cloth pouch to hold the head set, and a detachable belt clip for the battery pack. That's it.

Out of the box, the unit works with the iPod with only one settings change needed. Under Videos : Video Settings, the TV Out option needs to be set to on. Nothing more. Everything else works exactly as you would expect.

Only a couple negatives to point out. One that we found kind of silly was that a CD was included with a trial version of M2Convert, a Windows only program for converting DVDs to a format for the iPod. Considering it's for an Apple product, where's the Mac demo app? The other thing we found by accident was that if the battery pack is left plugged in to the iPod, and the glasses into the battery, the iPod will drain it quickly -- within a couple of days. For some reason, the iPod would repeatedly kick the backlight on, draining its battery, and subsequently drain the myvu battery to keep itself charged. Once the myvu battery was dead, the behavior stopped. We didn't notice the behavior when it was just the iPod and the battery connected. The moral is: don't leave the glasses plugged in when not using them.

Overall, the myvu glasses are an outstanding product. If you travel at all, or like using your iPod to watch video, then the myvu will become a must have accessory. It really does the job better than anything else we've seen out there thus far. Retail price is $299 direct from MicroOptical, and at a few retailers. The prescription inserts cost $99. Eye care professionals that sell them can be found on the site.


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