As a reviewer, there are certain items that you really look forward to receiving. Testing out the latest in technology is certainly one of the perks of this job, and the Royole Moon looks to be a potential revolution in entertainment and consumption. While the entire project is not perfect, The Royole Moon lays the groundwork for new ways of consuming media in the future. Whether you’re on a long trip, or you just want to kick back at home and enter a private world, the Royole Moon is a pricey way to do just that.
At its core, the Royole Moon is looking to put a compact, foldable movie theatre experience in your bag. In many ways it comes close, but we’ll get to that in a little bit. The Royole Moon is a headset with high resolution screen and headphones all wrapped into one, but it’s not a VR headset. This is designed for movies, games, and other media consumption.
The Moon operates on a custom Android-based operating system that utilizes the right earpiece as a touch sensor. The touch sensor works like a TrackPad so you can navigate up, down, left, and right, and in some cases, manipulate a mouse pointer. A tap on the ear piece selects, a double tap goes back. The circumference of the ear cup turns your volume up and down. Overall, it’s an elegant way to navigate.
Optically, the Moon uses 2 AMOLED displays – one for each eye at 1080p resolution (over 3000 PPI), so images are clear and sharp – or at least they are once you’ve set the optics to your taste. If you wear glasses, that’s not a problem as each eye piece can be focused, allowing adjustments from -7.0 Diopter nearsightedness to +2.0 Diopter farsightedness. The Moon cannot correct for astigmatism (so it’s a good thing I had mine surgically repaired).
On the audio end, you have high-quality sound coming from the built-in headphones. The headphones have active noise cancellation algorithms that will cancel out most droning noises, airplanes for example. The isolation on the headphones is not the best, but decent. Active noise cancellation helps with constant tones, but if you’re trying to drown out a house full of kids and dogs, you’ll have a hard time believing you’re in a movie theatre.
The Royale Moon is not just a headset – the Moon is powered by the Moon “Box”. The Box handles the memory, battery, and connectivity of the headset. If you want to play from an HDMI source, like the HDMI output of my Macbook, that connects through the Box. The Box also contains 32 GB of storage for movies and other media. The Box and the headset connect together via a single cable.
Let’s all go to the movies
Overall, the movie and media consumption experience is great. Once you can kick back and relax and take in a Star Wars movie, you’re golden. When you suspend disbelief just a little bit, you can actually picture an 800-inch screen before your eyes. You feel like you’re in your own personal movie theater. Add in active noise cancellation and that impression gets stronger, drowning out the drone of an airplane or train.
But where the Moon has the most trouble is getting the content to the headset. The headset runs on Android 5.1.1, but there is no app store included here. You can download Netflix – I did it, but I have no idea how I actually managed to do it. I basically accidentally found a download of the apk. A similar thing happened for Amazon Instant Video which worked once and never again.
Room for improvement
The Moon has a web browser and can connect to various websites, including Netflix and Amazon, but once you get there, you are forced to install apps in order to stream the content. Even connecting to those sites isn’t all that great though, because in order to enter text, you have to use the aforementioned up, down, left, right navigation to manipulate a keyboard – one key at a time. To say that it’s tedious, is an understatement.
Plus, once you get into those apps, you have navigation issues. In Netflix, you can navigate to various shows, but it’s difficult to navigate to individual episodes of a show. There’s no way to download content from Netflix. Basically, you’re running an app optimized for touch on a screen that you can’t touch. The Royole Moon’s navigation concept works great in its custom OS, but once you rely on an app to get to other content, you’re at the mercy of limited controls.
Royole needs to figure out how to allow people to navigate apps when they can’t touch the screen. Cough, cough, voice, cough. Sadly, the one app that looked like it was designed to take voice content – YouTube – didn’t work with voice. There was a button that said “search with your voice” but when you selected it, it didn’t take voice input.
None of these problems are really unique to the Moon. In general, headsets like this are a brand new industry. So, in a sense, we’re all learning how to do this. I don’t blame Royole for all of those issues. But when designing a headset to play media content, you need to be sure that the most popular content delivery services are easy. That content has to be accessible or you’re stumbling out of the gate.
Getting over the hump
All that being said, after loading the Star Wars movies into the Box, I was able to easily navigate to and watch them. Those were fun, and watching Star Wars on a (virtual) 800-inch screen is pretty incredible. If you have 3d content, the Moon can handle that as well. There are several pre-loaded examples – including a Katy Perry video which may or may not include a certain 41-megapixel camera phone – that are stunning to watch.
Royole has set a solid foundation here in the hardware department, but there is a lot of work to do on the software side. Fortunately, software can be fixed with updates. During our review period some initial issues that I found were fixed with updates. The company is actively working to improve things, which is always a solid plus with products like this. That being said, at almost $800, you want a perfect product, and the Moon is not perfect. The foundation is there, but at that price, you want all the bells and whistles too.