HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset And Controllers: The Australian Review
I’ve never had the best experiences with VR. Previously, the only time I didn’t feel immediately sick was during the Evangelion ride at Universal Studios Japan. Which is weird because it’s a rollercoaster.
I once nearly vomited during The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and that’s basically just a walking SIM.
Suffice to say, I was nervous about trying HP’s Mixed Reality headset. And what I found was a pleasant surprise.
What Is It?
It’s worth noting that you should take the term ‘Mixed Reality’ with a grain of salt. They may be future-proofing the technology through the name, but right now it only offers VR, despite any. You won’t find any augmented reality here.
What you will find is a virtual reality offering with lower system requirements than the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. Sort of.
Like with any VR headset running through Windows 10 (such as Acer, The Dell Visor and the Lenovo Explorer) you have a choice between Windows Mixed VR and Windows Mixed VR Ultra.
Machines with comparatively low specs will suffer with 60fps, which makes for a pretty bad gaming experience. You’ll be limited to pretty basic VR experiences and apps. Anyone with high enough specs will be ready to party.
HP’s headset also has similar specs to its competitors in the Windows 10 space so there’s no real change here.
Similar to other MR headsets, the HP contains sleek black visor with an adjustment dial at the back. It’s pretty sexy, and the visor can be flipped up if you need to momentarily step out of VR, which is a nice touch.
There is a fair amount of padding, which makes for a comfortable experience, but it also means that it gets quite warm. The design could definitely benefit from a little more airflow.
The headset clocks in at 834g, which is quite heavy compared to some competitors. However, I honestly didn’t notice it to be any more encumbering than other sets I’ve tried. The comfortable design certainly helped with this.
There is a single socket for the HDMI/USB 3.0 cable, as well as a conveniently placed headphone jack on the underside of the headset. As far as corded design goes, these were smartly placed. However, I would still prefer a full cordless setup. Even with a 4m long cable – I still found myself consistently aware of it.
I’m a big fan of the controllers, which have the standard ring design that you’ll find with other Windows 10 Mixed Reality hardware.
- Clickable touch pad
- Windows button
- Menu button
- Analog sticks
They were easy to use, intuitive, and comfortable. Pro Tip – they aren’t interchangeable. If you’re too lazy to pop the visor before picking them up, you’re going to notice if they’re in the wrong hands.
This was far easier than what I expected.
All I had to do was plug in the USB 3.0 and HDMI connectors to the laptop (in this case a HP Omen 17) and I was in business. The setup process proceeded to check the system specs and guided me through pairing the controllers, which was just the click of a couple of buttons.
Next came setting up my perimeter. You have the choice of standing or sitting, and I opted for the former. One option out there is the HP VR Backpack – which means you won’t have to worry about cords stretching from your computer to your headset. I didn’t have this option, so I just plugged into my laptop.
I then used the headset to trace the perimeter – it comes into play for every game and experience to ensure you don’t run into things and hurt yourself.
I was genuinely impressed at how quick and easy this setup process was. This should be the benchmark. I was ready to go within minutes.
What’s It Good At?
The user experience is fantastic. Not a single controller or perimeter dropout. The only time I ran into anything is because I straight-up ignored my perimeter to lunge for a gun in Superhot VR. This was entirely my fault and the chair probably deserved it.
Despite having some initial beta issues last year, I found Steam VR to be a dream. Everything ran smoothly and I didn’t suffer a single crash. There were also a huge variety of games to choose from. Honestly, this is made me want to utilise VR more. The games are getting good.
I spent most of my time with Superhot VR – which was incredible. I genuinely lost track of time playing. The visuals were great and the controllers worked beautifully with the game play. I was impressed.
The Microsoft Cliff House interface is lovely. It’s a minimalist space with ocean views and the ability to add your favourite apps to the walls, or pretty much anywhere else you want.
As defaults you’ll find Skype, Microsoft Edge, the Microsoft Store, and Hologram. Naturally, I added Steam and Netflix immediately. These app Windows can be moved and resized easily with your controllers. Alternatively, you can use Cortana to open, close and resize.
I have always been skeptical of watching TV and movies in VR. I never really saw the point of watching a screen through another screen.
It makes more sense when it comes to live events like sports or concerts – having the ability to choose which camera you want to watch is pretty cool. But with TV, the view is already chosen for you.
But I had to admit that there was something oddly relaxing about the experience. Cliff House makes for a beautiful backdrop, and being able to create your own ultra widescreen in that environment is cool. You can completely shut yourself off from the world.
The only downsides I found, was the headset itself – you can’t lie down or lean back all that comfortably with all that bulk. Also, the perimeter was consistently visible in front of the screen which was distracting.
What’s It Not So Good At?
My main issue with this headset was blur and the inability to adjust on the headset. Fortunately, you can make adjustments in the Mixed Reality settings on your PC, where you can change the visuals and calibration. It’s a more fiddly process than simply adjusting on the headset.
I also found that there was some blurred edges during game play. They were noticeable but not enough to be an annoyance or deal breaker.
Despite the Cortana integration, it’s still quite minimalist and basic. I regularly had to repeat instructions and ended up just using the controllers be default. What she would be really useful for using the keyboard in any capacity, but that isn’t possible yet. On that note – virtual reality keyboards are still slow and annoying to use.
Despite the hundreds of apps available on the Windows store… there aren’t enough apps. HTC and Oculus are still dominating this space.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some cool things available in the Microsoft store. One of my personal favourites was ABC News VR. I never thought that I would get the chance to explore a marijuana plantation or Pyongyang, and yet here we are.
My main concern is that a lot of these app and even game experiences are fleeting or gimmicky. And often expensive.
Sure, there are free games and experiences, but they aren’t the best and don’t think that they justify the cost. Especially when you’re already dropping 799.00 on the hardware – not to mention your PC cost. That being said, I don’t think this is specifically a HP issue. It’s the high-end MR and VR market in general.
It seems like the Microsoft MR experience is relying heavily on Steam VR to make up the bulk of the missing content – but the same price problems can be found there too.
A huge part of what is so compelling about VR right now are the longer, in depth games being released. But they’re pricey. And in the cases of Fallout VR (US59.95) and Skyrim (99.95 and only available on consoles) players are likely to be buying them for the second time.
Even mid length to shorter games such as Virtual Rickality (US29.99) have relatively high price points for only a couple of hours of game play.
I’m not against laying money down for a great experience (Superhot VR is worth every cent), or even buying games for a second time. However, I know that I’m going to get a second dose of fun.
Again, this issue is more about the market in general. We need more affordable apps and games with replay value.
I found the padding to get warm pretty quickly, and had to physically readjust the headset occasionally during particularly movement-heavy games.
And although I didn’t find the weight to be any worse than most headsets I’ve tried – it is heavier. I definitely had a bit of a sore and stiff neck after jumping in for a couple of hours.
This is particularly problematic for gamers. VR headsets in general are just too heavy and uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. Although I have come more around to VR gaming, I still don’t see how it can feasible long term with the current bulky hardware.
As someone who enjoys long gaming binges, I would love to to play the likes of Fallout 4 VR for 5 hours and have truly immersive experience. But it’s just not comfortable for more than an hour or so at a time.
Should You Buy It?
I genuinely enjoyed my time with this headset and it made me believe in VR in a way I never had before. But I just can’t see myself dropping 800 until there are significantly more affordable games and apps. However, it’s not the most expensive headset on the market either.
The mixed reality elements aren’t available yet and bulky headsets in general aren’t at a point where I can comfortably wear them for long periods. I know that it would end up sitting on a shelf after a week.
This will change. VR is increasingly being treated more seriously and I think that the next couple of years will see more serious and immersive apps and games enter the market. The gimmicks and short experiences will fade.
If you’re just dipping your toe into the VR waters – you may still want to wait. However, if you’re a big VR fan then HP’s offering may be the headset you’ve been looking for.
HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset: Should You Buy It?
With so many technological advancements, digital gadgets seem to evolve rapidly – both in design and features. Manufacturers are now working on building low-cost yet high-quality mixed reality headsets. The market has flourished with feature-rich VR headsets, and the HP Windows mixed reality headset is one among them.
In this article, we will discuss if these mixed reality headsets are worth it, given the features and functions they offer and if you should buy them for a better experience.
With a neutral matte black finish, the HP Windows MR headset features a large visor mounted on a softly padded headband. The hinge allows the headset to flip up and down over your eyes. The front side of the visor comprises a glossy black plastic stripe covered over the matte body. The large visor covers the dual camera that helps track position.
The front design gives an all-new look to the visor despite the fact that it physically resonates with headsets manufactured by Acer. The headset also features a 3.5mm headphone jack that stays on the right edge of the internal side of the visor. You can see a short cable running from the right side of the visor to the right end of the headband.
Even though the design of the HP Windows MR headset is attractive, it needs a rework as the device is quite bulky. For a comfortable experience, you need to angle the headset a bit to prevent the chamber of the visor from becoming steamed up. Protect your skin from excessive moisture by maintaining airflow.
Ensure that the Wi-Fi is connected appropriately or troubleshoot if the Bluetooth won’t turn on MacBook or another type of computer. Try the HP Windows MR headset on the HP Omen X Compact desktop or HP Razer Blade Pro for an unmatched experience. These devices allow you to use the headset freely without any wires running from one end to the other.
You need a powerful laptop or desktop with robust tech specs to connect and use the HP Windows MR headset seamlessly. You may not be able to use the MR headset if your desktop lags in terms of performance and functioning. So, make sure to optimize your computer’s storage and RAM regularly to get the most from the device.
With the BlueTooth update, the controllers may or may not work as expected, which can be a little annoying. You may experience an unnoticeable lag which may not break your game, but you may end up losing points. However, manufacturers are aware of this Bluetooth juggling, and the problem may vanish with the next update.
The process of setting up the HP MR headset is similar to setting up any other Windows-based mixed reality headset. The minimum requirement is Windows 10 with Fall Creators’ Update installed on it. You need to plug the headset into the HDMI and USB ports on your computer. Afterward, listen to and follow the instructions that prompt on the monitor.
Once the headset is in place, it will ask you to draw a box in the open area to define the space where you can move while playing your favorite game. Open the Windows Mixed Reality app while putting the headset on your head, and you are all set to use the Windows Mixed Reality. Mostly, the app starts automatically when you plug in the headset.
As mentioned earlier, the Windows Mixed Reality headset works seamlessly on HP desktops and laptops. HP Omen X Compact desktop or HP Razer Blade Pro are highly compatible devices. Both these desktop computers support Windows Mixed Reality and give you identical performance and user experience.
When you wear an HP Windows Mixed Reality headset, each eye will receive 1440px by 1440px across a 2.89-inch LCD screen. If a clear comparison has to be made, the device gives you a high-resolution image than the Oculus Rift, Playstation VR, and HTC Vive. The refresh rate varies between 60Hz and 90Hz.
Depending on the hardware you use, Windows Mixed Reality is categorized into two sections – Windows Mixed Reality Ultra and Windows Mixed Reality. The display looks fairly sharp and brighter, even on the colored surfaces. With a consistent and reliable motion controller, you can enjoy high-end VR games but keep track of the batteries.
If you are experiencing lags or any other issues while playing games like Arizona Sunshine, it’s time to update the drivers. Sometimes the headset is in a good state, while the problem lies with the BlueTooth drivers as the Motion Trackers use BlueTooth to establish connectivity. Alternative connectivity options can be used to ensure reliable performance.
The HP Windows MR headset will make you believe in virtual reality for playing games. You must keep your operating system, drivers, and other software updated for an immersive experience. With all these features and functioning, the HP Windows MR headset is worth purchasing.
Windows Mixed Reality: everything you need to know
Windows Mixed Reality (MR) can be a confusing concept. Is it virtual reality (VR), like the Oculus Rift, or it is more like augmented reality (AR), which Microsoft has already dabbled in with its HoloLens?
Even though Microsoft has made HoloLens 2 available for pre-order, the answer is ultimately a mix of the two – though it’s far more VR than AR.
Microsoft’s unique combination of VR and AR is designed to immerse more users in the digital experience with lower priced and easier-to-drive headsets. To this end, Microsoft has teamed up with some PC manufacturers like Dell, HP, Asus, Samsung and Lenovo to develop a more accessible head-mounted display (HMD) standard with less ground rules. And, it’s working – the Mixed Reality adoption rate continues to grow.
Similar to high-end VR Headsets like the Oculus Rift, you wear a head-mounted display with two built-in screens to peer into a virtual world. And, with Windows Mixed Reality for Steam VR, the barriers between Mixed Reality and high-end VR continue to dissipate. You can now interact with your virtual world using handheld controllers or an Xbox One gamepad. Just don’t expect Mixed Reality on the Xbox One. Even if you’re not into gaming, Mixed Reality on SharePoint will make life way more interesting for professionals.
Instead of HTC Vive lighthouses, Oculus Waypoints or other infrared beacons, however, Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets use integrated sensors to scan the surrounding environment. And, because Microsoft Mixed Reality isn’t solely focused on gaming, like other VR headsets, Microsoft is able to produce easy-to-drive headsets that can be run by the best Ultrabooks. This means that you can experience and share digital worlds that anyone can enjoy.
Additionally, each new version of Windows 10 has beefed up Microsoft’s support for Windows Mixed Reality devices. And, most recently, Viveport is now offering Windows Mixed Reality support, allowing headset owners to download compatible games, as is Google Chrome.
Windows Mixed Reality release date
Microsoft Mixed Reality has been a priority for the REDMOND computing giant since October 2016, and since the release of the Fall Creators Update in October 2017, Mixed Reality has been a standard feature of Windows 10. Since then, Microsoft has been adding a wide array of updates to the platform, with many coming in the Windows 10 April 2018 Update, as well as the Windows 10 October 2018 Update.
It looks like this is going to continue, as well. We fully expect Microsoft to continue adding Mixed Reality improvements to all of its future updates, though with middling sales, it’s also possible that Windows Mixed Reality’s days could be numbered.
Windows Mixed Reality price
The biggest differentiator between headsets for Windows Mixed Reality and those designed for VR is that the former can cost half as much. With for Mixed Reality headsets starting at 224 (AU638, £225) when first released, Microsoft’s new platform competes more closely with mobile VR devices – like the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View – than with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Adding motion controllers doesn’t dramatically up the cost, either – a few manufacturers, like Acer, are bundling a complete headset package for 296 in the US. For a full price breakdown, let’s look at all the headsets currently available.
Acer Windows Mixed Reality HMD
Acer was one of the first companies to come out of the gate with a Windows Mixed Reality headset. It offers a display resolution of 1440 x 1440 per eye. Users can flip up the screen to quickly return to the real world – this is a regular feature of most, if not all, headsets in its class. Acer’s headset is also among the cheapest, at 296 (£399, AU799) with a pair of wireless motion controllers.
The Dell Visor (and all Mixed Reality headsets, really) have a lot in common with Acer’s, but we’ll go over the specs nonetheless. It boasts two 2.89-inch, 1440 x 1440-resolution LCD displays that you can, once again, flip up for a quick exit from the virtual world. There are a few extra creature comforts in the shape of removable foam inserts, cable management loops and an easily adjustable headband for a comfy and tight fit. The Dell Visor is available worldwide for 349 (£649, about AU501), all of which include motion controllers.
HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset Developer Edition
HP’s take on the Windows 10 MR headset looks much more Tron-like than the others. It keeps up with its rivals thanks to a 2880 x 1440 combined resolution and 90Hz display, but its field of view is a narrower 95 degrees. HP’s Mixed Reality headset is available now for 299 (£449, AU429).
The Lenovo Explorer featured all the same specs and comforts as the other Mixed Reality headsets. Its field of view also ran smack in the middle of the pack at 105 degrees. It was more affordable than Acer’s at 399 (£400, about AU799) with motion controllers included. Unfortunately, Lenovo has since discontinued it, and it has yet to release a replacement.
Asus Windows Mixed Reality Headset
Asus differentiated its MR headset with a futuristic geometric front facade. Looks aside, it had all the same specs as its rivals, although its field of view is on the low side at 95 degrees. It did fall in line with the other headsets, priced at 399 (£429, about AU335). However, it’s looking as if Asus has also discontinued it, and while some third-party sellers may still have some units on hand, it’s no longer largely available.
Samsung HMD Odyssey
The Samsung HMD Odyssey is the latest Windows MR headset on the block, and it’s both the most advanced as well as the most expensive device of its class. For starters, it packs larger 3.5-inch AMOLED displays for more vibrant, lifelike images. Built-in AKG headphones also add in the immersive soundscape of 360-degree spatial sound. Costing a cool 499 (about £377, AU638) with controllers included, the Samsung HMD Odyssey shipped later than the other Windows Mixed Reality Headsets on November 6, 2017. Currently, the HMD Odyssey is only available at third-party retailers for more than its original cost.
Windows Mixed Reality requirements
Unlike virtual reality, you won’t need a killer rig to jump into virtual worlds. The minimum specs required for a Windows Mixed Reality PC are lightweight enough for most modern Ultrabooks to power a headset.
At the very least, you will need the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, an Intel Core i5-7200U processor or better, 8GB of DDR3 dual channel RAM or better, 10GB of free disk space, an Intel HD Graphics 620 or DX12-capable GPU, and HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 as well as USB 3.0 Type-A or Type-C.
Keep in mind that the above specs are only good enough for a 60-frames-per-second (fps) experience. To get to 90fps, Microsoft suggests a system specced with at least a desktop-grade Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 5 1400 3.4Ghz – or another quad-core processor. You’ll also need a discrete GPU at least on the level of an Nvidia GTX 1050. Just keep in mind, if you’re going to take advantage of Mixed Reality on Steam VR, system requirements may vary by game.
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Windows Mixed Reality headsets available today
Today is an exciting day for mixed reality at Microsoft! We outlined our vision for mixed reality, unveiled the latest device to join our growing family of Windows Mixed Reality headsets – the Samsung HMD Odyssey – and kicked off the holiday buying season by celebrating the availability of Windows Mixed Reality headsets at Microsoft Store and Microsoft.com.
Together with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update – beginning to roll out today – and a compatible Windows 10 PC, these Windows Mixed Reality headsets from our partners will enable you to immerse yourself in a new reality: the world of Windows Mixed Reality.
Here’s how to get your hands on your own Windows Mixed Reality headset:
You can discover, try, or purchase your own Windows Mixed Reality headsets at Microsoft Store and Microsoft.com, and by checking out the individual links below.
Samsung HMD Odyssey
Today, Samsung announced the Samsung HMD Odyssey. The Samsung HMD Odyssey provides a remarkable immersive experience with Dual AMOLED high-resolution displays, a 110-degree field of view, built-in premium AKG headphones, and built-in 6 DOF inside-out position tracking. The device is quick and easy to set up and delivers a premium virtual reality experience with superior picture quality.
Acer Windows Mixed Reality headset
Acer will offer their Windows Mixed Reality Headset with motion controllers. When the headset is paired with the controllers, you can take advantage of the full position and rotational tracking in the headset to easily create content or play games.
The Dell Visor features high resolution 1440 x 1440 LCD panels for a sharp and smooth 360° panoramic experience for an “as-if-you-are-there” view. It’s thoughtfully engineered for comfort and convenience with well-cushioned head and face padding that allow for comfortable wear, even for people who wear glasses.
HP Windows Mixed Reality headset
The HP Windows Mixed Reality headset will also be bundled with motion controllers to provide great Mixed Reality experiences.
The Lenovo Explorer headset is ergonomically designed and optimized for comfort so you can immerse yourself in mixed reality experiences for long periods. It tracks your movements with superior fidelity and spatial awareness so you can move around naturally in an area of 3.5 by 3.5 meters (about 11.5 by 11.5 feet) without constantly reorienting yourself. No external sensors are needed, which means you can set it up in minutes by simply connecting a cable to your PC.
Learn more about Windows Mixed Reality
To learn more about Windows Mixed Reality, visit Windows.com/MixedReality. This site contains helpful information, including a compatibility checker to see if your current Windows 10 PC is compatible with Windows Mixed Reality; highlights content experiences; and lets you check out a full collection of PCs that are built to support Windows Mixed Reality.
Be one of the first to demo the new Windows Mixed Reality headsets from Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo, at your local Microsoft Store today.
Device demonstrations vary by Microsoft Store location.