Microsoft Reveals $299 VR Headset for Windows 10
Microsoft surprised us all during its Windows event with a new line of VR headsets under development that features built-in tracking sensors. The new virtual reality headsets will have prices as low as $299; which would make them the cheapest high-end VR headsets of the market. They would be manufactured by some of Microsoft’s partners such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, and Asus.
Microsoft VR Headset is nothing like the HoloLens
Microsoft’s already existent headset is actually an augmented reality one; though they prefer to call it “mixed” reality headset. VR headsets are completely different, they have magnifying lenses and flat screens that show you images around your field of vision. A HoloLens will show you 3D objects on anything you might be looking at in the real world, and that is cool. But the new VR headset will also show you 3D objects in an entirely virtual environment, you can’t get more immersion than that.
What is probably the most interesting feature about the new line of Microsoft VR Headsets is the inside-out six-degree-of-freedom tracking. This is basically the ability of the device to track motion without needing an external camera that reads the position of LEDs on your device like the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift. The technology that allows a VR headset to determine how you move through space is what makes the difference between high-end devices and low to mid-rage ones like the Google Cardboard or the Gear VR which only track the movement of your head.
Inside-out tracking promises to let you create the Holodeck as in the Star Trek series. Assuming you have enough space to move, the Microsoft VR Headset will be able to know where you’re moving. During the demonstration, players moved two or three steps inside the space of a small-sized room. But despite the small range, it is still a big improvement for a headset that intends to simplify VR hardware this much.
No Need for an Expensive Gaming Rig to Support Microsoft VR
That is what Microsoft claims. In fact, in the demo picture below you can see the headset connected to a Windows 10 laptop that looks pretty much like a Lenovo Yoga. This would make virtual reality way more accessible than it currently is. Although this can be translated into limited graphical capabilities. But of course, that will depend both on the Microsoft VR headset you choose and the specs of your own Windows 10 computer.
About controllers, well… Microsoft didn’t show any physical one. During the demonstration, we were able to see players interacting with the VR headset using voice commands. This isn’t probably the most friendly user interface we have seen but you will always be able to use gamepads, keyboards, mice, and any other compatible system you prefer for more complicated interactions.
How Much Is The Microsoft VR Going To Cost?
It is known that there will be different prices for the different Microsoft VR devices developed by its partners. But the company only revealed that the cheapest one will only cost $299. A significant low price considering that the PlayStation VR costs $399 (and you need a PS4), the $599 Oculus Rift, and the $799 HTC Vive.
We have yet to know more about the specifications and prices of each manufacturer. No one except themselves knows what they look like or what their names are going to be. But Microsoft assures that they will release in 2017 as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update; which is an upgrade to the operative system that focuses on 3D.
Microsoft promises something that is new to the VR industry at a price too good to be true. Will they commit to really release it in 2017? For only three hundred bucks? Let’s wait and see. If true, this is going to be a game-changer in the high-end VR headset competition.
What do you think about the Microsoft VR headset?