Note: This page is for
historical reference only.

Sony Head Mounted Displays

***Tough questions? See our Frequently Asked Questions page.
***Tough environment? See our Ruggedized Version of the Sony HMD

Sony Electronics Inc. has discontinued most of its head mounted displays.  We have a limited number of the LDI-100B in stock, but none of the other models. The LDI-100 series has about eight times the display resolution of the types of HMD designed for television viewing, like Sony's LDI-50 series (compare), and is an exciting product for computer professionals and virtual reality applications, although there is nothing to prevent use for serious television watching or game playing. (The products are sometimes referred to a Glasstron [tm] displays.)

What makes the LDI-100 products so exciting is the resolution available for the price. Costing US $2095 the 100 series provides bright, razor sharp, SVGA imagery good enough to use for computer work, including text-based work like e-mail. It is such a great step forward from previous displays in its price class that we believe it makes a whole class of virtual reality applications viable that were previously too costly because of the display.

We haven't met a computer person yet who has tried a 100 and didn't want to own one!

There are higher resolution HMD products on the market, and if your application justifies the cost, you should be aware of the alternatives.  The August issue of Real Time Graphics gives a run-down of all the displays on the market that we can identify.  We post this issue on the Real Time Graphics page so you can download it.  Aside from higher resolution, more expensive displays can provide more color depth (CRT-based products are good at this) and greater field-of-view (current Sony products are a rather modest 30 degrees). We especially like the high performance products from n-Vision and from Kaiser Electro-Optics, but there are many fine products on the market. The high-end stuff starts at around $12,000 and goes on up to the hundreds of thousands of dollars for specialized products.

However, we are not aware of anything currently available that is in the price/performance class of the LDI-100.

LDI-100B Features

Price is US $2095 for the LDI-100B (NTSC).  We have this unit in stock for a limited time.

LDI-D100B Series - Stereoscopic  (Sorry, this product is no longer available.) Field sequential stereo means that there is a single video input to the display. The video source has to provide images for the left and right eyes on alternate fields. The video signal consists of ODD and EVEN fields. The ODD field is used for right eye and EVEN field is used for the left eye.

Price is US $4475 for the LDI-D100B (NTSC) or the LDI-D100BE (PAL).

Sony makes low resolution and high resolution, battery-operable and non-battery-operable, stereo and non-stereo, and even finished and unfinished versions of their HMDs.  The unfinished versions have just the optical assembly and electronics, and are for users who want to build their own mounting assemblies. The product variations, part numbers, and prices are summarized in a table of prices and features.

Tough questions? See our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Sony Has Discontinued Its High Resolution HMDs

Sony is discontinuing production of its high resolution (600 x 800) head mounted display products. The industrial (LDI) and consumer (PLM) product lines are both being dropped.  A recently introduced low-resolution HMD model designed for television viewing will be continued through consumer distribution channels. Sony is not accepting any new orders for displays. Those currently available were previously ordered. No units will be manufactured after June 2000. Warrantee and service is being continued by Sony.

Right now, there is no obvious replacement in the market at the resolution and price point of the Sony, 800 x 600 resolution for about $2100.

During Sonyfs foray into the HMD business they developed a reputation as a very difficult supplier, even as the product itself developed an excellent reputation for quality.  Sony refused to keep product in stock, most often quoting 16 week delivery times on all but the most popular model.  Technical information was difficult to get, and questions went unanswered for long periods, if they were ever answered at all. Suggestions for product improvements (like lengthening the short video cord) were only rarely acknowledged, and official communications of any kind were rare indeed.

Nonetheless, based on the product quality, three vendors made after-market ruggedization adapters for the elegantly light, but fragile, unit. The units were bid on more than one still-pending military contract. Sony HMDs were designed into a number of commercial products as well.  SonyFs sudden abandonment of the product line is likely to remembered for some time by those who invested in its use.

True to its incommunicative style, Sony offered no explanation.  It is a safe guess that sales volumes below their expectations had something to do with it, but the product came from the industrial division which makes low volume specialized products like instrumentation cameras.  One pure speculation is that SonyFs interest in high resolution HMDs came from interest in the wearable computer market, and that perhaps the their appraisal of that market was revised.

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