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Review: Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset and Controller

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

The VR headsets of one or two years ago like the Oculus and the HTC Vive did deliver on the promise of bringing VR to consumers but at a steep price as well as high-end hardware requirements. With the entry of Microsoft into VR, using tech and knowledge coming from its HoloLens solution, makes enjoying VR more affordable.

Microsoft showed off the future of Windows as a holographic OS with HoloLens which put the desktop in virtual and real space. HoloLens was unfortunately too expensive for mass production and while it seems to be making waves in enterprise and special situations, there’s no consumer version available.

Instead, Microsoft created the Windows Mixed Reality VR standard, packaged it as part of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and makes it accessible to anyone running Windows on the minimum specs (8th Intel Generation Core Processor). Hit jump for my immersion into WMR.

The other end of the equation is the headset and controllers needed to interact in this space. Acer’s Mixed Reality headset and controllers are designed to the Microsoft standards. Unlike previous VR systems, the headset has all the sensors necessary to set up a play space, you don’t need external sensors or too many wires to get it connected.

An HDMI plug as well as a USB plug are all you need to get it connected and powered (the controllers each need two AA batteries). Once everything is connected and paired it was very easy to engage in the VR space of Microsoft Mixed Reality.

The headset is relatively comfortable and lightweight. It allows extra room for people who wear eyeglasses. Getting into VR space can get uncomfortable and hot after a while, I find that the Acer Mixed Reality Headset allowed me to last around 30 minutes trying out various games and VR experiences.

The controllers are surprisingly easy to learn and can be used in a variety of ways. I was surprised at the range of movement and control, even the ability to handle virtual things like string floating in space in some apps.  The controllers can turn into guns, shields, swords, a bow and arrow and even controls to the Batmobile.

After my VR session, I found it easy to unplug, turn off the controllers and keep them in a box. I was impressed at how easy Windows Mixed Reality headsets can fluently be added or removed from a PC. I’m impressed at how everything is plug-and-play which is so different from Oculus or HTC Vive which require a lot of preparation and a lot more space to work.

In terms of experiences, there a lot of demo applications but very few are the full-version. Microsoft seems to like to push its products like the Edge Browser, Photos app, Skype and others into Mixed Reality and this is understandable. Many of these products, like the Edge Browser can take a toll on your eyes in VR mode. Videos are more forgiving and immersive.

Acer’s Mixed Reality Headset and controllers are great companions to any Mixed Reality enabled PC or gaming notebook. Setup and maintenance are easy, and the hardware is responsive, which helps suspend disbelief and helps create the illusion of immersion that VR requires.

There’s still a dearth of actual applications and experiences on Windows Mixed Reality right now, which makes it a bit difficult to suggest people go out and get these headsets and controllers. Still, anyone looking to dabble or even develop content for this highly-touted next generation of interfaces now has a great option at a remarkably lower entry price.

Acer has done very well with its Mixed Reality headset and controllers which deliver an almost seamless connection to the vast VR multiverse built right into Windows 10.

 Rating: 4 out of 5

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