Friday, September 1st 2017

ASUS Reveals HC102 Windows Mixed Reality Headset

ASUS is another company that will be launching hardware developed according to Microsoft's Mixed Reality specifications. The company has put out some details on its HC102 Mixed Reality headset, which put it on par with other offerings from the likes of Acer, Dell and Lenovo in terms of both features and design. 2x LCD screens display a combined 2880x1200 resolution (1440x1440 per eye), at a 90 Hz refresh rate and an acceptable 90º FoV (Windows' MR solutions typically have a slightly lesser FoV compared to pure VR solutions like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift).

Hardware-wise, ASUS also has the mandatory 6 DoF tracking, with an accelerometer and magnetometer increasing input data. A proximity sensor is also there, which we still haven't seen mentioned on other MR headsets. There are 2x inside-out cameras for positional tracking, and a 3.5 mm audio jack for your own high-quality headsets. All of this will set you back the same €449, with a pair of motion controllers, as the other options that have been announced on the market. It seems that vendors are generally locking in on Microsoft's recommended configuration - and the same price-tags - rather than differentiating through hardware and features - and, potentially, higher pricing. However, ASUS has done some work in making the HC102's design stand out a little more than the other solutions we've seen so far.
ASUS said it focused on designing a headset that would offer good hygiene, featuring an anti-bacterial coating on the surface - which is an extremely important feature that is usually not too much focused on by manufacturers. Reports do exist of people entering showroom floors with good health, and leaving with herpes due to contact with the same ocular cushions as the rest of the crowd, after all. Comfort is also, naturally, a concern, and ASUS guarantees the headset is comfortable to wear for long periods of time due to its "balanced crown" design, which takes the pressure off of your cheeks and nose and distributes the less than 400 g of weight between your forehead and the back of your head. Expect these headsets to start dropping towards the consumer market around October. Source: AnandTech
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15 Comments on ASUS Reveals HC102 Windows Mixed Reality Headset

#1
Hugh Mungus
More if the same, but not quite.

I wonder if there will be 1200×1080 options for higher FOV. Not sure that's a good idea, but I can see that happening to keep FOV enthusiasts happy. Maybe these headsets can have simulated higher FOV? 110 degrees with less vertical pixels would still be interesting and could be a good compromise for those few times you really want more FOV.

What's headset support like? Would kraken pro v2's fit? Would I need a 4vr from plantronics?
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#3
PowerPC
400 g of weight
This is actually a pretty nice reduction of weight compared to the Oculus which is 470g.
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#4
Octavean
I would want to try something like this out at a local Microsoft store if they had a demo but my expectations are managed at best. The 90 degrees FOV isn't inspiring and while the higher resolution is a step in the right direction it isn't enough given that ~4K resolution is really what is needed (to say nothing of the computational prowess needed to push 4K). The price is decent but I don't think it's value comparable with respect to the Oculus Rift with Touch at ~$399.

The inside out tracking may be serviceable with the controllers but the line of sight dependency with respect to the HMD and controllers likely means frequent tracking issues with the controllers that would go above beyond that seen with the PSVR's dated move controllers.

As for an actual demo and hygiene. No way I would strap something like this to my head if everybody and their mother has been using it. If they don't have sanitary face shields or if I don't have my own protection I wouldn't touch it. It's not worth the trip to the doctors for antibiotics to treat conjunctivitis or whatever you could contract,...

No sir,....
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#5
Franzen4Real
"2880x1200 resolution (1440x1440 per eye), at a 90 Hz refresh rate and an acceptable 90º FoV "

My opinion is that 90 degree FOV is not acceptable at all, and actually don't even find that 110 degree in my Rift is acceptable. There are still times that the cut off picture horizontally is noticeable even when you're not intentionally looking for it. If anything, I see 110 degree as a bare minimum. When gaming, I would definitely place importance of higher FOV above a resolution higher than the current Rift. Yes, I do want more of both (and 120hz refresh) but if I could only have one or the other, I'd take FOV first. The periscope effect is far more noticeable than the screen door effect.
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#6
saikamaldoss
Hugh Mungus
More if the same, but not quite.

I wonder if there will be 1200×1080 options for higher FOV. Not sure that's a good idea, but I can see that happening to keep FOV enthusiasts happy. Maybe these headsets can have simulated higher FOV? 110 degrees with less vertical pixels would still be interesting and could be a good compromise for those few times you really want more FOV.

What's headset support like? Would kraken pro v2's fit? Would I need a 4vr from plantronics?
120 degrees would be the best as humans can do 114 on an average... it should be a 2360x1440@70hz per eye display at least.. that would be awesome..
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#7
Octavean
I believe the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both have a FOV of 110 degrees and even the Sony PSVR has a FOV of about 100 degrees. Dropping that down to 90 degrees is going in the wrong direction IMO or at least with respect to the specs but I would have to see it firsthand in order to see if it adversely effects the VR experience significantly. Having said that I am familiar with both the Sony PSVR and Oculus Rift and neither have a wide enough FOV IMO.

It is important to note that human vision in terms of peripheral vision is actually very poor. So an approach that is similar to foveated rendering could yield a wider FOV. Extending the FOV could be possible with some changes to the lenses and some basic optical and or reflective trickery.

Looking at it directly would reveal the techniques used but it could saturate the human FOV limits when primarily looking ahead.

It requires actually caring about making a better product though.

IMO, there is no better excuse for the use of flexible displays to wrap the image or curve it about the human eye in a HMD. This IMO is much more applicable and better suited to saturating the FOV then curved computer monitors and TV's.

Don't get me wrong, a higher resolution is nessary to mitigating or eliminate the screen door effect but such improvements are likely best applied generationally. 4K at 90Hz is a big ask in today's market and will take some time to address economically. Small increases in resolution from the current 2160x1200 are essentially half-measures.

Other components come into play though such as panel type and lense type.
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#8
Hugh Mungus
Less FOV should mean higher pixel density, so that's also an important thing to remember. Could be like having two 1800x1800 screens in a headset with 110 degrees FOV.

If done properly, it will be an amazing headset with as only downside less FOV, but it could still be more immersive than the vive and rift due to higher pixel density. Little things make more difference than big things often.

Also, I thought all windows mixed reality headsets had 95 degrees FOV, which is already better than 90 at should be a better compromise between pixel density and FOV.
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#9
Octavean
Lots of different things big and little can put you in and take you out of immersion.

Its a fair argument to say that Pixel density / panel type / screen door effect can be a big factor to some. Its also fair to say FOV being too narrow can be a problem or not for some. I wouldn't care to have to choose one over the other though in a quasi pick your poison kind of way.

The reality is that these HMD are a work in progress and will improve from generation to generation if the manufacturers have incentive to stick with VR.

I wouldn't look to the current crop of Microsoft MR HMD's expecting too much aseptically so if the specs are actually lower in some respects to Vive and Rift.

However, I am willing to give it a fair shake if or when I have an opportunity to try it. It might be worth pointing out that there are already some reviews on Youtube. The early such postings are from developers naturally.
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#10
Octavean
Here is an early hands on review (reaction) of the Acer MR HMD:



Title:

Acer Mixed Reality vs Oculus Rift & HTC Vive & PSVR | Reaction by VR Expert Nima Zeighami
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#11
Hugh Mungus
Octavean
Here is an early hands on review (reaction) of the Acer MR HMD:



Title:

Acer Mixed Reality vs Oculus Rift & HTC Vive & PSVR | Reaction by VR Expert Nima Zeighami
Will it get driver updates pr something like that? That would help a lot. This is before sales anyway, so it's even possible that's just the dev headset, not the final consumer product. I'm hoping that's the case. Won't make much difference, but since this seems to be the right headset for me and I want to use it a lot, even small changes will make a huge difference. Especially for desk use you want closeup tracking to improve a lot.

Edit: this is the developer edition, so like with the devkits from the oculus, although likely to a lesser degree, the final consumer headset will be a bit more refined.

Looking forward to reviews of the consumer windows mixed reality headsets, especially because of the low requirements (the low-end graphics card may be the cause of the screen glitches though) making for a very futureproof headset and the tracking should be a bit better by then! Also, the cpntrollers are something I'm really looking forward too. I love the steam controller's touchpads, so I love that they included touchpads rather than just having some joysticks! Hopefully the cameras and software will be improved too so the tracking problems that occured low to the ground (or a desk) should hopefully be less of a problem.
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#12
Octavean
I'm not sure what version of the Acer HMD was used for this evaluation but the video was released in early July which is well before any official Microsoft retail release. In the video it was referred to as a "Develper Edition" but it isn't clear to me that this would actually make any different from a retail version. Initially Microsoft was selling HMDs via the Microsoft store but presumably only to developers but again it's unclear to me if this was just early access to developers or a different HMD internally.

The point of me posting the link to the video was really just to give some insight of an actual expert developer who is well schooled in HMDs. If it wasn't finalized hardware that means the assessment isn't necessarily applicable to the retail version but it might not be too far off.

The takeaway though is that it's a good effort on the part of Microsoft overall especially for the price point. Higher resolution is a plus but a narrower FOV and stil a screen door effect with god rays.

I'm interested but I'm also going to manage my expectations especially for the given target price point.
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#13
Hugh Mungus
Octavean
I'm not sure what version of the Acer HMD was used for this evaluation but the video was released in early July which is well before any official Microsoft retail release. In the video it was referred to as a "Develper Edition" but it isn't clear to me that this would actually make any different from a retail version. Initially Microsoft was selling HMDs via the Microsoft store but presumably only to developers but again it's unclear to me if this was just early access to developers or a different HMD internally.

The point of me posting the link to the video was really just to give some insight of an actual expert developer who is well schooled in HMDs. If it wasn't finalized hardware that means the assessment isn't necessarily applicable to the retail version but it might not be too far off.

The takeaway though is that it's a good effort on the part of Microsoft overall especially for the price point. Higher resolution is a plus but a narrower FOV and stil a screen door effect with god rays.

I'm interested but I'm also going to manage my expectations especially for the given target price point.
Developer editions are betas essentially. That means that any major hardware and software issues should be gone in the final consumer model. Developer editions also are essentially pre-production models as they usually are produced in smaller numbers to find any smaller mistakes after initial development and before the final release.

I'm confident that the final windows mixed reality headsets will be nearly perfect, within their specifications of course, whereas the developer edition models are just "a good first effort".
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#14
Octavean
It is good to see that Microsoft is getting into VR or MR as they call it.

However, I do hope that they take the same approach as Steam and make every effort to be a central platform agnostic place for VR. That is to say I don't simply want to see them support only their hardware. Microsoft should make every effort to support other HMDs already on the market.

This is one of the reasons I prefer Steam. While I currently have an Oculus Rift I would likely prefer the HTC Vive and if newer generations improve the hardware I may want to upgrade to a new HMD (possibly of different manufacturer). So if all my games are in one place like Steam with open policies there is more freedom of choice with respect to HMD manufacturers.

So basically this is why I don't want to buy games from Oculus especially so if I can find them on Steam.

If Microsoft shows a willingness and openness to third-party VR hardware it can go a long way in terms of good will.
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#15
ian991
I am looking to buy Microsoft mixed reality! Hololens really evolved in 2 years, and this is going to lead the market in several years. I used hololens, and I was thrilled with it since it is a new technology... but this is something huge!
I like how Microsoft's Virual Reality is getting stronger, and it's technical possibilities will be even better!
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