ST1080 vs HMZ-T1 – a slightly verifiable account

A friend of mine who is very interested in remote reality (aka telepresence) already has a HMZ-T1, with which he is quite satisfied, but we were both eager to compare it with my new ST1080. As it turns out, the two devices have different weaknesses, some of which were surprising.

First, the field of view. You’ve seen it mentioned, something along 40° vs 45°, but that doesn’t really convey the difference. Trigonometry tells us it would be a linear difference of nearly 14% in apparent screen size. Marketing numbers, 150″ vs 100″ screens (note how that’s way off from the prior claim). But the reality of it is, the HMZ-T1 has a notably larger field of view – at the apparent cost of a very small sweet spot. You have to adjust the set precisely to get even part of the image sharp, and with the mechanism that locks the optics in steps, at least I cannot get the whole image sharp at once. With the ST1080, this problem nearly only occurs in the vertical placement, and is much milder (although I sometimes get an impression it’s dim instead of out of focus). Anyhow, for a repeatable measurement I took my compact camera and put it against the display unit, and snapped one picture from the ST1080 and one from the HMZ-T1.

As for color, the HMZ-T1 defaults to a more saturated and warmer rendition which it calls natural. Lacking better references, I can’t really disagree with it, but I can say the colors on the ST1080 are usable (although contrast suffers a lot in the sides for dark images). The camera doesn’t render colors from the ST1080 very well since it uses strobed colors, so the metering and exposure both get a rather random sample.

When it comes to signal sources, ostensibly the two devices accept much the same inputs except that the ST1080 extends its 1080p stereo modes with a top-and-bottom full resolution 30Hz mode. In practice, when I tried to make a response test signal in 1080p60, it turns out the HMZ-T1 completely refused to acknowledge any video signal from my work laptop (a Dell E5520 running Xorg with a core i7, Intel graphics). We therefore resorted to video from a camera for reaction speed testing.

This left us with an input that somewhat favored the ST1080 – 1920x1080i at 50 fields per second (25 full frames per second). We didn’t expect it to be a huge difference, but it was. The ST1080 produced no discernible delay in audio, at all. For video, we know the delay is at least a field time (20ms), but did not notice a delay – consistent with the common claim that we start to notice things above about 40ms. The entire resolution was obviously present, as we could see the jagged interlacing artifacts on objects in motion. The HMZ-T1, with its much more advanced video processing including color conversion, image scaling, apparently deinterlacing and a most definite audio delay to keep it in synch with the video, surprised us with a video delay of 90ms more than the ST1080. It might have a gaming mode buried somewhere in its settings, but more than four field times of delay is really uncalled for and was particularly surprising as closer high speed filming had shown the OLED displays do scan like the video signal, unlike the ST1080 which does full-frame updates. This measurement was done by connecting a camera to an HDMI splitter and flashing an LED light on and off into the lens, while filming the two displays using a high speed camera.

11 thoughts on “ST1080 vs HMZ-T1 – a slightly verifiable account

  1. Hi yann, these pictures really put my mind at ease as even though the fov is smaller the st1080 pic is sharper with little or no washout . Can you download hd film clips and take pics of both hmds showing it?. Thanks again

    • I’ve wound up sick this week, and it’s a trip of several hours to visit my friend, so not currently. And after that, there’s just no way any of my cameras can get a good enough video clip to show if an HMD is displaying HD content. What did you want to accomplish with such clips?

  2. hi yann, get well soon, Most of the reviews I’ve read for the st1080 makes out that the light haze was prominent, your pictures showed that it wasn’t too bad. The HD clips could establish a baseline for what we can expect to see Picture Quality wise, as your unit seems to be fine.

    • This is a tad on the unbelievable side.. but my Casio camera simply won’t record videos. It seems the record button broke. The Nikon doesn’t have a lens small enough to do an HMD justice even if I could fit it in, so that would leave me attempting to put the cellphone there.. and even that sticks out too far sideways to align the picture, even disregarding its sad video quality. In the meantime I’m glad to note others have managed better; take a look at the forums.

      Addendum: I’ve repaired the camera, and posted a few more files.

    • I’m sorry, I haven’t managed to squeeze the time in for this. Perhaps tomorrow afternoon with luck, but then there’s a trip offshore.

  3. Hi Yann, this is all very confusing please tell me which one of these 2 r better for PS3 3D gaming only
    ST1080 or HMZ-T1 🙂

    • I can’t tell you that. My PS3 has no 3D support, since that feature is later than the April Fool’s that never ended. In general I cannot recommend dealing with Sony at all.

  4. Dear every one
    Hi how are you doing i hop all are fine 🙂 i have a very important question
    i am so totally confused between the Sony HMZT1 and the ST1080 the big problem is that in the country that i am they don’t have St1080 they only have Sony HMZT1 and both are same price except if i need to buy the ST1080 i have to pay extra because of DHL shipment to my country so this is why i have some important questions before i decide which one to finally buy especially if i choose to buy ST1080 i will pay extra for shipment!! OK my questions is i need one of them to watch movies mostly!! and not for video games i like to watch high quality movies and i don’t care to much honestly about 3D movies so 3D and games are not important to me!!
    and i have OSN HD Receiver they have nice movies like action HD and Movies HD and discovery HD and NetGeo HD so i can connect my OSN receiver to watch it in higher resolution so which one is best for watching movies?

    i also have some extra questions

    1: can you connect iphone 4s and ipade to Sony HMZ1?
    2: can you connect Samsung Galaxy tab 10.1 to it?
    3: can you insert SD card or USB disk to watch Videos contents from it?
    4: The Sony HMT1 play 720P but if you play 1080P Videos will it hang? or Freeze? or it will work but in 720P mode?
    5: can you connect external HDD hard disk drive and watch HD contents from it ?
    6: Can you connect Wii console to it and play Wii games like call of duty ?
    7 : last question does it work with Android TV box so you will see the android system on it?

    • That’s a lot of questions – a bunch of which are answered emphatically at the product site, and you posted this multiple times on my blog. In short: I have none of those things to test with, neither of the HMDs accept any other input than HDMI (and any HDMI source should work with them), and they’ll both display 1080 content.

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