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scuba.jpg

1-10 Scale:  8

The Philips Magnavox Scuba is not the wave of the future, it is not the highest resolution screen on an HMD there is, it is not very comfortable, but it does what it says it does:  It immerses you in the video game or movie's environment.

When I first hooked up the Scuba and started up a movie, I started thinking, "Ok, did someone drop this thing?  The screen's all fuzzy."  I was a little offended to learn from the review of one star by GamePlayers magazine that this was quite normal as the unit was indeed created with "low budget" in mind.  So yes, it is low resolution.

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Unfortunately, for a big screen, you'll have to wear a big unit.  I can't believe after seeing the pictures of this thing, it never occured to me that this thing was going to hurt your head.  And it really can.  I read the words, "Ergodynamic design for comfort" across the box that it came in and felt like my intelligence had been insulted.  It mashes mostly into your forehead and there is no browpad there to soften the impact.  Oh, well, ok there is a browpad (that's like a few millimeters thick).  But fortunately, there is an alternative to getting rid of your Scuba.  Just take a small sponge (those little spongepads in old Sega CD game cases is perfect) or a few folded up tissues and put it in front of the Scuba's browpad and then it's actually much more comfortable.  No problem!  It'll still leave you a little headachy when you eventually take it off, but not much. 

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I almost wanted to sell it but I kept it because it's a product you tend to like more, the more you use it.  It projects a huge image that surrounds you.  It's like a tiny IMAX theater at heart.  Sure the resolution is crappy, but what I noticed is that your eyes start to adjust to the apparent fuzziness of the image and after a while of fiddling with the brightness and contrast dials on it, you can soon find a picture setting that works.  And what is great about it is that for video gamers, it's a product for every type of game.  The contrast can be turned way up for dark games like Doom, Quake, Halo, etc.  For bright games and side-scrollers, settings can be turned down to reduce eye-strain.  And when watching movies on it, the screen resolution looks great on any setting.  

Here's the thing about enjoying this product.  It's a low-rez unit so the kinds of games that look best on it are low-rez games.  For instance, 32-bit and 64-bit consoles from the 90's look great on this.  Today's 128-bit machines do not appear very well on this thing because they demand too much detail that can't be seen clearly on this thing.  If you like Goldeneye 007 for N64 or Doom for your SNES, or anything pre-1998, the Scuba will take you away from reality for a while and immerse you into it's own world.  You'll actually be pleasantly suprised.

Jonathan Dogey  dogeymon@gmail.com