Steve's Digicams

Sony "Glasstron"
PLM-A35 LCD Eyeglasses

Sony PLM-A35 Glasstron

Quite possibly the coolest pair of shades that you'll ever wear. And guaranteed to attract a crowd faster than a Coolpix 950 with an EagleEye OpticZoom, unless you're using both of them at the same time!

These are the Sony PLM-A35 "Glasstron" Personal Home Theater System LCD eyeglasses.

We all complain about not being able to see our LCD screens outside in the bright sunlight, right?   Put on a pair of these bad boys, plug your digicam's video cable into the control unit and your monitor is now as visible outdoors as it is indoors.

And get this ... the PLM-A35 glasses simulate a 52" diagonal screen when viewed from a distance of 6.5 feet.

Sony PLM-A35 Glasstron

The PLM-A35 system comes complete with a control box, AC power supply, AV cables and 3 RCA-to-RCA adapter plugs. Shown here with the optional NP-F550 InfoLITHIUM battery.

Sony PLM-A35 Glasstron

The Glasstron has two 0.55-inch Liquid Crystal Displays, each with a resolution of 180,000 pixels (800 H x 225 V) and a horizontal viewing angle of 30.  For multimedia use there's a pair of stereo ear bud speakers too, shown here in the stored position.

Sony PLM-A35 Glasstron

The control unit has the audio and video input jack, a standard 4-pin mini DIN S-Video connector, the 9vdc input jack, volume control, brightness control, auto volume leveling system and on the bottom is a user lockout switch to prevent its use by children.

This device was designed to be used by adults only, extended use can cause eye fatigue or damage. After three hours of use it displays a warning message to that effect.

Sony PLM-A35 Glasstron

You can easily take your Glasstron portable by adding a Sony NP-F550, NP-F750 or NP-F950 InfoLITHIUM rechargeable battery. Sony claims 5 hours use with the NP-F550 battery.

Steve's Conclusion

Cool ... very cool!   And practical too unless you're trying to use them while walking and shooting in a different direction. Used with a digital camera or a camcorder, these are the ultimate color viewfinder. Many videographers are now using devices like these to give them the freedom to shoot low or high angle shots without the need of the usual external monitor.

They're not cheap -- I picked these up from Supreme Video for $449 (MSRP $599) and there's an even more expensive ($1995) and higher resolution model available. The resolution is 800x225 pixels which means the display is not razor sharp when used with 640x480 video but it is more than enough to know that you have your subject properly framed and the focus is close.

I got tired of sticking all kinds of LCD shades on my camera so I could see it when using add-on lenses. Even with the best sunshade on the LCD it was still a problem in extremely high ambient light conditions. Now I have the monitor virtually inches away from my eyes and it is very easy to see what I am aiming at. Plus you can switch off the camera's LCD and greatly increase the battery life. Accessing menus to change advanced features is also a breeze now that I no longer have to squint to see the LCD.

The negative to all of this is that these head-mounted LCDs are not for everyone. Some people will experience side effects such as dizziness, eye fatigue, nausia or worse. The instruction manual is loaded with legal disclaimers, the most noteable is the warning to not use them while driving or to allow their use by those under the age of 15.   I have yet to have used them for longer than ten or fifteen minutes at a time and even then I noticed that it took a few moments to get back to normal visual reality again. If used with common sense I don't see them as being any more dangerous than a pair of binoculars.

Are they for you?   I don't know, only you can answer that question. If you're looking for an inconspicuous way to take photos the answer is a definite NO.   Unless you're at a rock concert, you will be attracting attention in a major way. There's no way to hide the rainbow-colored glasses, especially out in the bright sunlight. If you have all those other high-tech toys then why not own a pair of LCD glasses too. They can be used with all sorts of video/audio devices; DVD players, VCRs, games (with TV output) and more.

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