A brief look at new and noteworthy experiences among DVDs, video games, gadgets and the Web:
Headplay ($499; www.headplay.com)
Headplay is pitched as a "Personal Cinema System" that immerses the viewer alone in movies, video games, the Web -- just about any video source, including via USB drives and flash cards. You wear the device like a baseball cap so that its video-screen goggles cover your eyes. While the Jetsons technology holds promise, a recent evaluation showed that it has a long way to go. One of Headplay's selling points is portability -- its main control box is even called the Liberator -- but the tangle of wires required to watch, say, a DVD is anything but liberating. There's a cable connecting the Headplay Visor to the Liberator, a cable for the included ear buds, a cable for the DVD player, a cable for the device's tethered remote control and -- unless you spend an extra $50 for a rechargeable battery -- a power cord. Clunky! This might not matter if Headplay provided an unparalleled viewing experience. It doesn't. Even after taking nearly an hour to fiddle with the system for the right fit and presentation, the stereoscopic image never displayed clearly. It felt like watching TV through a neighbor's window -- not that I've ever done that. True, I had to remove my glasses to wear Headplay, but its makers claim that doing so shouldn't affect the experience. Shrug. Call me in 10 years, when a pair of bulky glasses can reproduce a better experience without bothersome wires. We're not there yet.
Awful Announcing (awfulannouncing.blogspot.com)
It's the height of TV sports viewing: Baseball's World Series starts Wednesday, pro and college football are in full swing, pro hockey recently hit the ice and NBA teams are playing exhibition games as their season draws closer. What do broadcasts of all those games have in common? That's right -- a lot of bad announcers and talking heads. Weighing in on the audio dreck is Awful Announcing, the brain-child blog of Brian Powell. Jimmy Kimmel's inflammatory stint during the Giants-Falcons game? "The only guest that 'Monday Night Football' has put in the booth that was a roaring success." ESPN's Emmitt Smith? "The guy just shouldn't be anywhere near a microphone." Rumors of a pregnancy for sideline reporter Suzy Kolber? "I'd much rather Michele Tafoya taking maternity leave, if you know what I mean." Tune in for more comments, announcing schedules and video clips.