Mixed Reality Headsets Acer vs HP vs 3Glasses

So I currently have all 3 of these headsets in front of me and thought I would give my own findings on how they compare.

Comfort / Convenience

The 3 Glasses with it’s more traditional approach to it’s strapping system is, while comfortable enough, my least favorite of the three to wear for any length of time.  I have come to the conclusion having tried various headsets that it is the “PSVR style” of fitting,  as has now been adopted by the majority of the Mixed Reality headsets, that is the most comfortable!  That said, the 3Glasses, with it’s built in headphones, does make it the most convenient of the three to just pick up and use without any fuss, while the other two both have the convenience of a “flip up” visor – just in case you have to spend the odd moment in the real world!

The HP and Acer were both comfortable enough but my personal preference was for the HP which just felt less restrictive – perhaps due to it having a larger facial compartment (for want of a better term).

NB Those who wear glasses will also find a little more room for them within the HP and 3Glasses headsets.

In terms of weight I decided to do my own non-scientific weigh-in.  Unsurprisingly the 3Glasses with it’s built in headphones wasn’t the lightest , but by such a small margin that I am tempted to claim it the victor (as it would almost certainly be the lightest in terms of overall head weight if the other two headsets were paired with full over ear headphones).

3Glasses:537g
Acer:487g
HP:551g

NB Someone pointed out that the HP might be weighing heavily as a result of the connector for the separate lead being included in the overall weight – as I say, this was not a weigh-in carried out under scientifically proven conditions!

Differentiating Factors

Putting cost and styling to one side for a moment I thought it might be useful to list the main things that make these headsets different from each other:

  • The Acer headset includes a magnetometer – making it able to discern a true compass direction.
  • The Acer came bundled with a free VR game “Ghostbusters”
  • The Acer comes with an additional Velcro facial padding.
  • The HP’s connectors are replaceable – something that might just give it the edge over the other headsets in terms of longevity.
  • The 3Glasses headset has a DisplayPort 1.3 connector that is common to desktop based systems.  This might be the reason for the increased brightness of the S1’s display (but makes it more of a headache to link to a Laptop for a mobile experience).
  • The 3Glasses supports up to 120Hz refresh whereas the Acer and HP are up to 90Hz
  • The 3Glasses has the addition of built in headphones
  • The 3Glasses has the addition of hardware based IPD adjustment (inter Pupillary Distance)
  • The 3Glasses facial padding is not easily removable (unlike the other two headsets which both allow for replacement)
  • The 3Glasses has the addition of a headset based “Windows Button”
  • The 3Glasses has it’s own separate tracking camera and does not support “inside out” tracking – out of the box is more suited to the user remaining in a largely static position (sitting or standing)
  • The 3Glasses controllers are rechargeable through their USB connectors (the Acer and HP require two standard AA batteries per controller).
  • The 3Glasses headset also supports it’s own bespoke environment as well as having support for Windows Mixed Reality.

In Use

The Acer and HP displays are less bright than the 3Glasses headset (which I believe is due to the 3Glasses use of a DisplayPort 1.2 connector instead of HDMI?).  I also found that while I had never noticed the screen door effect when using the 3Glasses when I first tried on the Acer I found it relatively easy to pick out the individual pixels once I went looking for them.  This may be as a result of the display being less bright and it is difficult to pin this finding down in any meaningful way but in any way I would re-iterate that these high(er) resolution displays are significantly better than the previous forerunners the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

NB I will continue to update this post over the coming days and weeks so please check back or subscribe if it is of interest 🙂

(Oh, and “pretty please” please hit one of the buttons below)

Mixed Reality – What is IPD and why does it matter?

Knowing your IPD (“Inter Pupillary Distance” or “The distance between each eye”) can make a difference to your initial and subsequent experiences in Mixed Realty as without correct adjustment of the hardware/software to match your IPD one of your eyes will probably be looking at a sub optimal image the result of watt might have you walking away with a “meh” rather than a “wow!”

IPD.jpg

So how can I calculate my IPD?

Your optician can certainly tell you your IPD when you have your eyes checked but if you are not planning on doing that soon there are a number of Apps that will give you a pretty good figure:

Android

IOS

More information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pupillary_distance

NB All Mixed Reality headsets have adjustment for IPD but my understanding is that only the Samsung headset has a sensor to do this for you (this being a bit of a luxury for something that should be a “one off”?)

NB You should re-check your IPD every 5 years or so

Developing for Mixed Reality – Where should I start?

“With the recent release of the Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets, controllers and the awesome Fall Creators update for Windows 10, it has never been a better time to immerse yourself in to the Mixed Reality space.

We say Mixed Reality, as unlike traditional VR products and solutions, there are no external devices or sensors required to make these solutions work, everything you need is built directly in to the Mixed Reality headset. To start you literally just have to plug it in and go.

We can extend the experience (like with the Vive and Oculus) with hand held controllers or gamepads but these should be seen as extensions to any Mixed Reality experience.

Through this short course, we will walk through the basic tools and API’s you’ll need to start building your Mixed Reality experiences and some common tips and tricks to make it the best it can be.”

Read the whole article here

Find a live demo of Mixed Reality in the UK!

Larger branches of PC World and Currys are promising live demos of Microsoft’s Mixed Reality headsets throughout the UK

Demos are available in these locations:

Birmingham
Bristol
Cambridge
Cardiff
Croydon
Glasgow
Guildford
Hull
Leicester
Leeds
Liverpool
Mansfield
Medway
North Shields
Plymouth
Reading
Stoke Festival Park
Southampton
Staples Corner
Swansea
Swindon
Thurock
Warrington
York

Check out the dedicated Mixed Reality page on the Currys / PC World web site

Mixed Reality and the “screen door effect”

One of the things that struck me (or to be more precise didn’t strike me!) when I first put on a Mixed Reality headset was the lack of this effect.  I had always found the screen door effect a little annoying in the past so how did this new generation of headsets seemingly make it go away?

The old adage “necessity is the mother of invention” perhaps applies here – Microsoft wanted to make all our current apps accessible while wearing one of these new headsets and reading a Word document or Excel spreadsheet through a screen door was never going to be tenable.  And so software tricks aside there is only one solution to this problem – make the pixels so small that you simply cannot see them!  This is one of the reasons why Mixed reality headsets have a higher resolution that any of the currently popular generation of headsets.  Compared to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (at 1080×1200 per eye) Mixed Reality headsets all have a higher resolution at 1440×1440 per eye*.  It is this extra resolution that keeps that screen door at bay at the same time as giving you a clearer, cleaner experience across the board.


The above diagram illustrates the relative difference in resolution for some of today’s popular headsets.

  • Note that the Samsung Mixed Reality headset has a slightly higher resolution than the Mixed Reality standard

Mixed Reality – Where is my keyboard?

One of the first things I noticed when I first started in Mixed Reality was (surprise) I can see the controllers in the virtual world! Not only that but they animate  showing me (and advising me) how to use them.  Then,  when I put them down on the ground and have a chat with someone in the “real world”, “Visor up” I can see where I left them when I get back in the virtual world – Pretty Cool!

So putting gaming to one side for a moment there is currently some debate as to whether Mixed Reality, as it stands at the moment, can be used for what might be commonly referred to as “work”.  For me there are a number of things that need to be in place*, and then some “nice to haves” that would persuade me to work within the Mixed Reality Cliff House.  First and foremost of those necessities would be an option to “switch on my keyboard”.  So that I can find it and see what I am typing.  I would like an interactive keyboard that “lights up” each key I press within the virtual world – sure, I am going to fail a little because I can’t see my actual hands and fingers as I type but I suspect I will get used to that quite quickly (in the same way that a good pianist doesn’t need to look at the piano keyboard when they play).  And so my next keyboard should have this “visible in Mixed Reality” functionality built right in, as should my mouse – and once I get going I’m not going to be using those controllers for this kind of work (and in any case I only have one pair of hands).

So there you have it, I am formally requesting Microsoft (and their hardware partners) for a new set of hardware that is “visible in mixed reality”

  • And I have to say that having multiple screens of any size dotted around my virtual room was probably top of the list!

Addendum: You know what I might settle for in the short term? Some “visible in Mixed Reality” string  and/or tape that I can wrap around anything I want to find in there!

 

 

Mixed Reality on Microsoft Surface Devices?

Until now it has been a bit of a black art getting Mixed Reality to run on the latest line of Surface devices but Microsoft has just released a number of patches aimed at bring these devices up to date for us:

Surface Pro 4 (M1796):

Windows Update History Name Device Manager Name
Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. driver update for Marvell AVASTAR Bluetooth Radio Adapter Marvell AVASTAR Bluetooth Radio Adapter – Bluetooth

  • 15.68.9120.47 required to support Windows Mixed Reality features.
Intel Corporation driver update for Intel(R) HD Graphics 620 Intel(R) HD Graphics 620 – Display adapters

  • 22.20.16.4749 required to support Windows Mixed Reality features.
Intel Corporation driver update for Intel(R) Precise Touch Device Intel(R) Precise Touch Device – Human Interface Devices

  • 1.2.0.92 improves battery life by disabling touch while TypeCover lid is closed.
Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. driver update for Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller Marvell AVASTAR Wireless – AC Network Controller – Network adapters

  • 15.68.9120.47 required to support Windows Mixed Reality features.
Intel Corporation driver update for Intel(R) Display Audio Intel(R) Display Audio – Sound, video and game controller

  • 10.22.1.100 required to support Windows Mixed Reality features.

Surface Laptops:

Windows Update History Name Device Manager Name
Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. driver update for Marvell AVASTAR Bluetooth Radio Adapter Marvell AVASTAR Bluetooth Radio Adapter – Bluetooth

  • 15.68.9120.47 required to support Windows Mixed Reality features.
Intel Corporation driver update for Intel(R) HD Graphics 620 Intel(R) HD Graphics 620 – Display adapters

  • 22.20.16.4749 required to support Windows Mixed Reality features.
Surface driver update for Surface Keyboard Surface Keyboard – Firmware

  • 135.1713.0.0 improves keyboard safe-mode experience.
Surface driver update for Surface System Aggregator Surface System Aggregator – Firmware

  • 135.1704.1.0 improves system stability.
Surface driver update for Surface Trackpad Surface Trackpad – Firmware

  • 2.122.2683.0.0 Improves two-finger scrolling.
Surface driver update for Surface UEFI Surface UEFI – Firmware

  • 136.1736.769.0 improves system stability.
Surface driver update for Surface Dock Integration Surface Dock Integration – Human Interface Devices

  • 1.0.6.0 Improves Surface Dock stability.
Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. driver update for Marvell AVASTAR Wireless-AC Network Controller Marvell AVASTAR Wireless – AC Network Controller – Network adapters

  • 15.68.9120.47 required to support Windows Mixed Reality features.
Intel Corporation driver update for Intel(R) Display Audio Intel(R) Display Audio – Sound, video and game controller

  • 10.22.1.100 required to support Windows Mixed Reality features.
Surface – System – 1.1.1199.0 Surface Storage Firmware Update – System device

  • 1.1.1199.0 improves system stability.
Surface driver update for Surface Integration Service Device Surface Integration Service Device – System device

  • 1.0.801.0 improves system stability.
Surface driver update for Surface Integration Surface Integration – System device

  • 2.0.535.0 improves keyboard safe-mode experience.
Surface driver update for Surface Dock Firmware Update Surface Dock Firmware Update – System device

  • 1.2.6.0 Improves Surface Dock update installation and DisplayPort stability.