Microsoft's mixed-reality devices undercut the Rift and Vive with lower prices

With Acer and HP offerings priced at $399 or less, Microsoft's mixed/virtual reality ecosystem is a lot more affordable.

IDG

IDG

Microsoft is bringing a new spurt of energy to its mixed-reality efforts. On Thursday at its Build conference in Seattle, the company announced partner devices with features and prices that challenge rivals like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Of particular interest are the motion controllers, which will be bundled into kits with mixed-reality headsets from Acer and others.

Acer, which has already shown its Mixed Reality Developer Edition headsets at Build and elsewhere, plans to ship a consumer version by this summer: $299 for just the headset, and $399 for the headset and controllers, Microsoft said. HP will also announce a mixed-reality developer kit on Thursday, priced at $329 for the headset alone. HP's headset will also ship by summer, while headsets from other manufacturers like Asus and Dell are expected later in the year, closer to the holiday season.

The new motion controllers address one of the chronic issues with virtual reality, according to Microsoft: tracking the position not just of the user but also any real-world objects, which must either be avoided or marked. With the controllers, Microsoft's promising you’ll be able to participate in the new world of mixed reality, no markers required.

Microsoft will be referring to these controllers as 6DOF controllers, in that they’ll allow six degrees of freedom to move up and down, back and forth, tilting and yawing and more. Currently, Microsoft and its partners use Xbox controllers as a way to “steer” mixed-reality users though a virtual world.

Microsoft sees mixed-reality as a spectrum. On one hand, virtual reality totally occludes a user’s field of view, and real-world objects Augmented reality lets virtual objects overlay the real world, though the experience isn’t quite as immersive. Using Windows 10, developers can code apps for both augmented reality devices like the HoloLens and mixed-reality/VR devices like Acer’s headset. In a demo at Build, for example, Microsoft is offering the opportunity to participate in a shared experience where both HoloLens users and mixed-reality users can interact with one another.

The HoloLens and the mixed-reality devices already use “inside out” tracking to establish the headset’s position without the need for external sensors like those in the HTC Vive. That’s significant, as the HoloLens costs $3,000 for the developer edition, which will only be sold to commercial partners and developers. At $399, the Acer headset will be about $100 less than the base price of the Oculus Rift, and about $200 less than the Rift plus Oculus Touch controllers.

acer mixed reality demo with hololens Mark Hachman / IDG

At Build, Microsoft was showing off a collaborative experience between HoloLens and mixed-reality users.

Microsoft executives said partners like Acer will have leeway to design their own motion controllers, provided they adhere to a set of base specifications, like those that govern the mixed-reality devices themselves.

Why this matters: With its partners and aggressive pricing, Microsoft's clearly trying to gain some foothold in the early days of augmented/mixed/virtual reality. Unfortunately, it looks less and less likely that the HoloLens will be sold as a consumer device, based on conversations I had with developers and Microsoft employees at Build. Instead, these partner mixed-reality devices should fill the gap.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftacer

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?