At long last, Avegant unveiled the final design for its Glyph personal theater headset at CES 2015, and it looks even more like a pair of headphones than earlier prototypes suggested. Crafted out of high-grade plastic, it has a soft-touch exterior, shiny aluminum accents on the earpads and luxurious leather padding on the cups. The fact that it looks like a pair of premium headphones is no accident either: Chief Strategy Officer Edward Tang told us that the company really wanted its headset to offer very high-quality sound.
"From the get-go, we wanted something that's going to have familiarity with people," says Tang. "You can use it as a regular pair of headphones, and then you can flip it down to watch a movie." He adds that most other head-mounted displays look relatively awkward, and probably aren't what people would wear in public. "One of the things that we think is really important for wearable products is that it has to be fashionable," he says. The Glyph, he says, fits that definition.
But just because it looks good, doesn't mean that it'll fit well. I distinctly remember plenty of ergonomic issues with Avegant's earlier prototypes, from the headband to the distance between the eyes. Tang tells me the company has been hard at work trying to fix those issues, coming up with different kinds of earpads, nose pieces and so forth in order to fit the widest range of people. After all, the headset is designed to be worn for long periods of time -- at least a couple of hours to watch a movie -- so it needs to be comfortable.
Unfortunately, the design prototype you see here still isn't in its final production stage. The headset was set at a fixed size and I was unable to adjust the headband, so the headset was far too large for me. But even beyond that, the entire contraption seems terribly bulky and heavy, at least at first try. Of course, we'll have to try the final retail version to really assess it.
As far as video quality goes, it's unchanged from what we saw earlier last year. As a brief reminder, the Glyph projects images directly to your eyes with an array of 2 million micromirrors. The result is a surprisingly crisp and clear image that looks almost like an 80-inch HDTV strapped to your eyes. The headset has a micro-HDMI port, so you can hook it up to anything from a laptop to a compatible phone. Tang tells us that when fully charged, the Glyph should last about four hours in video-streaming mode. You can also plug it into USB if you'd rather not risk that.
If this sounds interesting to you, you can pre-order the Glyph right now for $499, though the final retail price will be more like $599. It'll ship later this fall.