Personal cinema headsets have been threatening to break into mainstream use for almost a decade now, but perhaps the main thing stopping them was their chunky form factor. For years they were either big ugly boxes that make it uncomfortable to watch anything longer than a 20-minute sitcom, or smaller units with low-res, eye-strain-inducing screens.
Even Cinera itself has followed the former path. The previous model was such a hefty beast that the company sold an optional arm to hold it up to your face for you. Now, it looks like the team has hit the right middle ground, with a sleeker unit that doesn’t look much more cumbersome than a regular pair of headphones.
The Cinera Edge packs a pair of OLED displays measuring just 0.83 in (21 mm) each. But in that tiny space they cram 2,560 x 1,440 pixels each, which combine to form something close to a 5K display. We say “close to” because while it is the same width, it’s only half the height of “true” 5K.
Still, that gives it a 66-degree horizontal field of view, which is approaching IMAX’s beefy 70 degrees. Given you’re basically pressing your eyeballs right up against the display, Cinera says that it’s the equivalent of watching a 1,200-inch screen from a distance of 20 m (65.6 ft).
The screen itself is mostly unchanged from the previous version, but what has changed is the bulk. The Cinera Edge measures 197 x 207 x 103 mm (7.8 x 8.1 x 4 in), and weighs 490 g (1.1 lb). The company says the weight is shifted towards the sides rather than the front, to make it easier to wear for longer periods. It now looks like something that we could potentially see ourselves watching a whole movie in – within reason of course. Scorsese’s The Irishman is probably out, but a 90-minute comedy could work.
Your aching neck isn’t the only limiting factor dictating how long your binge session can be, the 5,200 mAh battery is expected to last around three hours. But honestly, that’s probably more than enough.
So what are you watching on the Cinera Edge? The system runs on the Android 7 operating system, and can natively run streaming apps like Netflix, YouTube, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, and Twitch. There’s also a MicroSD card slot, which you could load with videos.
A Pro model also includes an HDMI port, so it can connect to basically any Blu-Ray player, computer, games console or other source. This model also packs Dolby Digital surround sound, with four speaker drivers in each ear, and a larger storage capacity – 32 GB, up from 16 GB on the regular model.
There’s a range of other features too. There’s a touchpad on the outside of the ear to control the menus, and native 3D content support, since each eye uses independent screens. The view can also be adjusted depending on your needs. the distance between the two can be adjusted, as can the focus, so if you normally need glasses you won’t have to squeeze them in under the headset.
The Cinera Edge is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, where it’s already smashed its US$10,000 goal by raising over $325,000. The regular model starts at $449, while the Pro is available from $549. If all goes to plan, shipping should begin by December 2020. Check it out in the video below.
Cinera Edge, a 5K OLED HMD with Dolby Digital 5.1 Headphone