Review 14th August 2017

Headset review

Acer Windows Mixed Reality

Written by James Burrows

Unmixed reactions to this Mixed Reality headset

We’re one of the lucky few to get our hands on one of the dev-kits for the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset. This is the low-budget, more accessible, answer to the HTC VIVE – a headset that allows you to walk around the VR space without the need for a hefty computer setup.

At a glance

The general consensus is it looks good – kind of retro and arcade-like. It was even described as “a transformer on your face”. The bright blue is certainly striking – although a bit plastic-y and arguably cheap-looking, which lets it down. However, most people in the office liked the retro-feel and as it’s a dev kit aimed at a lower-budget audience, we can cut it some slack. We’re more interested in what it’s like to use.

On the head

Overall, the headset’s slightly smaller than expected – but that hasn’t stopped it being crafted nicely to sit on your head. The goggles themselves are comfortable and sit well over a range of face-shapes. Plus it’s not heavy, unlike the VIVE, and it’s field of view isn’t compromised like the Daydream. What’s more, you can flick up the viewer like a welder’s mask – which may make you look slightly ridiculous, but proves practical when you need to switch quickly between the virtual and real world. (And what VR headset doesn’t make you look faintly ridiculous at the end of the day?)

In the experience

The most important bit: what’s the VR experience like? In a nutshell, we’re pretty impressed. The quality of the graphics is really high – the virtual world is crystal clear. And the screen quality is nice too. You can move around easily using the Xbox controller (that is, if you know your way around an Xbox controller. If you don’t, this takes a little longer to get used to.) Alternatively, you can walk around in the space – although this is only to the limit of the tether. We have to admit, it’s a shame the headset is tethered but we can see future iterations without it. However, the tracking is pretty spot on and everyone who tried the headset was immediately and consistently impressed with the quality of the experience.

Overall verdict

For us, this headset represents some seriously exciting possibilities. And at $299 a pop, it’s good value for money. It offers similar capabilities to the HTC VIVE but in a simpler, more accessible headset at a fraction of the overall cost to get a VIVE up and running. Don’t be confused by the name ‘Mixed Reality’ (this is just the blanket term Microsoft uses for its VR/AR offerings), this headset is a big step forward for VR – with the potential to make it much easier for consumers in future. It’s only downside is the plastic build-quality, which feels a bit cheap. But we can see this being improved on for a full consumer launch, and we have to remember it’s aimed at an audience who can’t afford full VR kits. It’s certainly comfortable to wear, practical and offers an excellent quality experience. We can’t wait for its full release.

Mark out of 10 – 7.5/10

 

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