Let the big VR democratization begin
Since their tease during Microsoft’s big and Creators Update event in New York back in October, we’ve been waiting to see exactly what these running Windows Holographic will look like when they begin launching later this year alongside that very operating system refresh.
At , the first wave of these head-mounted displays (HMDs) has arrived – though with all but one under glass. Microsoft held a special event during the show to give the press a sneak peek at how these headsets will look, and the firm also laid out some of its expectations for its partners’ devices.
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Five of these headsets were on display, from Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and a company known as 3 Glasses. So, let’s get right to it, shall we? (You’ll notice that all five of these devices look awfully similar – the reasons for which will quickly become apparent.)
Oh, and one more thing: only two of Microsoft’s initial partners – Lenovo and 3 Glasses – were prepared to give any more information regarding their headsets than what we could glean from outside the glass cases.
Microsoft Marketing Director Warren Langevin tells us that the company expects each headset launched under the Windows Holographic platform to house screens that come in at a resolution of 706 pixels-per-inch (ppi) between both panels.
Now, above you see Acer’s device, which houses two front-facing cameras for head-tracking first and possibly controller-tracking down the line. We’re really digging the Virtual Boy vibe here, though hopefully that’s not indicative of its quality.
Langevin also says that the headsets will be expected to run on a USB interface, as per the Windows Holographic spec. The two front-facing cameras you saw on Acer’s device, Dell’s and will see on all the others is another expectation from the maker for its partners.
We’ve been told that the front-facing cameras aren’t mandatory, but they may as well be. Without those cameras, these headsets would require tracking setups like that of HTC and Oculus’s, which would defeat Microsoft’s goal of making VR as dead simple as possible.
Dell’s headset looks much more sterile than the others, like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And, don’t worry: they're hard to make out, but those two cameras are in there, too.
Finally, Langevin tells us that all of these headsets will use Microsoft's own Windows Holographic interface, to maintain a level of parity between all of the HMDs.
HP’s take on the Windows 10 VR headset looks much more Tron-like than the others, and a logo reveals a bit more about the firm’s ambitions with it: 1,440 x 1,440 resolution per display.
At this point, it’s clear how similar all five of the HMDs revealed at the show appear to be. But, that’s not just because of Microsoft’s expectations.
Lenovo actually revealed its prototype HMD before CES 2017 even began, outright saying that its lenses, too, will sport 1,440 x 1,440 resolution. Furthermore, the firm expects the device to weigh much lighter than the two leading PC VR headsets at around 350g. Lenovo expects the device to cost between $300 and $400 dollars.
3 Glasses Blubur S1
This firm seems to be the most ready to discuss the capabilities of its Windows 10 VR HMD, the Blubur S1. Designed more like the Oculus Rift, its screens come out to 704 ppi for a 2K total resolution.
Also, the Blubur S1’s refresh rate is clocked at 120Hz, to better guarantee you won’t hurl while using it. And finally, the device offers a 100-degree field of view and built-in headphones – something none of the others currently offer. You check out the Blubur S1 in full .
Boy, can we not wait for the Creators Update to launch this spring.