Microsoft announced a bunch of new info related to the Windows VR headsets earlier this week, including a mention that they’d launch this “holiday.” Well it seems the holidays are getting started a little early this year, as the first Windows “Mixed Reality” VR headsets are due to launch as early as October. And we’ll finally be able to stop calling (most of) them, the ‘Dell headset’ and ‘the Lenovo headset’, etc. as the companies are finally revealing the product names.

First, a quick recap of all the exciting Windows VR news this week:

You’ll notice in the first one up there, that the Windows VR headset and controller bundles will be launching “this holiday.” That was the launch window Microsoft was stating, but it seems they wanted to leave it up to their hardware partners to announce the specific dates, and it turns out that most of the headsets appear due to launch in October.

A quick note before we overview the headsets and what’s known about their launch dates and prices: we won’t bother quoting the specs for each because they’re all essentially identical:

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Windows VR Headsets: Basic Specs

  • Dual displays at 1440 x 1440 per eye
  • 2.89” diagonal display size (x2)
  • Front hinged display
  • 95 degrees horizontal field of view
  • Display refresh rate up to 90Hz (native)
  • Built-in audio out and microphone support through 3.5mm jack
  • Single cable with HDMI 2.0 (display) and USB 3.0 (data) for connectivity
  • Inside-out tracking
  • 4.00m cable

From the looks of it, all of these Windows VR headsets are based from the same Microsoft reference device; for now the companies are basically just designing the shells and head-mounts of the headsets.

Dell Visor (VR118)

Image courtesy Dell

The Dell Visor is due out in October, according to Dell. The headset alone will sell for $350 in the US, and the controllers for $100, putting the headset + controller bundle at $450.

Asus Mixed Reality Headset (HC102)

Image courtesy Asus

The Asus headset also finally has a name, but it isn’t exactly sexy: the Asus HC102. Ars Technica reports it’s priced at €450 which appears to include the controller. Frequently we see matching EU and US MSRPs, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the Asus HC102 ended up being priced at $450 in the US, which would put it precisely in line with the Dell Visor pricing (which makes sense given it’s near identical hardware).

As for the headset’s availability, Asus doesn’t appear to have offered an official release date, but some fine print on the HC102’s product page indicates, “experience, apps and content coming on or around 10/17/2017,” which is planted right in the midst of October, just like the Dell Visor.

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Lenovo Explorer

Image courtesy Lenovo

Now dubbed the Lenovo Explorer, the company’s Windows VR headset is also priced at $450 in the US (including controllers), and $350 without. Today the company announced that “global availability” of the Explorer headset is “expected in the coming weeks,” and we wouldn’t be surprised if it joins the others in October.

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There’s also the Acer and HP Windows VR headsets, and while we expect they’ll also launch in October, we haven’t spotted any firm indicators just yet. However, it isn’t a stretch to think they’d become available at the same time as the others given that both were the first Windows VR headsets to be offered as development kits, and the consumer models aren’t expected to be significantly different.

As far as the dev kit versions go, Asus was the cheapest, which leads us to believe that it will be the $400 “starting at” price point that Microsoft mentioned for the headset and controller together.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Luke

    thwy all have the same FOV? thx

    • benz145

      We’ve seen a couple of figures quoted, but AFAWK, it’s the same underlying chassis between these headsets with all the same components, so it seems we may be dealing inconsistent measurement methodology rather than different fields of view between the headsets. We’ll check in with MS to be sure.

      • Luke

        thanks a lot. it would be also interesting to see if they use all the same LCD screen and who produce it.
        if they will use different models of LCD (with in common only the resolution) quality may be a game changer between the HMDs. and test all of them will be hard for reviewers.

  • Meow Smith

    Variations of the same thing, hopefully these that manage to stay profitable invest money into finding ways to make their next gen vr headsets superior than their competitions clones.

  • Rigelleo

    With this resolution of the displays the aliasing, if the FOV is the same of Rift/Vive’s FOV, will be 17% lower not an huge improvement but still an improvement

    • Xilence

      Less FOV, 90-95 degrees. So it’s more than you think.

      • Biggles

        It’s actually not a bad improvement at all. My rough calculations show give the Rift/Vive a resolution of 1 pixel per 6 mins of arc, and these 1 pixel per 3.75 mins of arc, so reading text should be a lot easier for example. Still no where near the optimum pixel per 0.5 mins, but an improvement none the less.

    • Shawn MacDonell

      The resolution boost is noticeable, but SDE is worse on these optics/display combos than Rift I’ve noticed after using the Acer Development Edition for some time now.

  • There is a mistake in the last paragraph. It’s not “Asus was the cheapest” It’s Acer at 400 with the controller included.

  • GrangerFX

    We really need a comparison review with all the headsets so we know which one to pre-order. Are all the screens really the same? Which has the best comfort? Which has the most solid build with the least wiggle if you move your head rapidly? Are any adjustable forwards and backwards? Are the weights all about the same? Which can absorb sweat the best? Do any have interocular adjustments? Which has the best field of view? Brightness? Probably a lot of other points of comparison as well.

    • Dllemm

      We’ll probably know a week or two before launch.

  • Jared

    Will these work in the dark? Do they rely on standard cameras for tracking, or something more ‘special’?

    • GmailIsDown

      They rely on the same “inside out” tracking tech used by HoloLens. It doesn’t offer room scale tracking but it doesn’t need external cameras either.

      HoloLens tracks very well from my hands-on experience with a dev unit.

      • Jared

        Thanks for the reply. I’m familiar with the inside-out tracking, but I’m curious if it works in the dark. At night, I usually sit in the dark in front of my monitor, but if I’ve got one these new AR/VR headsets on, would it still be able to track in the dark via some sort of infrared tracking, or does it use regular cameras for the tracking where darkness would sort of break the experience?

        • Armando Tavares

          That’s actually a good question.

          I’m guessing that, even if you sit in the dark(ish), you’ll have to keep your computer screen on. That will probably be reference enough for tracking.

  • GrangerFX

    One thing that bothers me about Windows VR is that early adopters could be in for some pain if Microsoft does a slow rollout of the Fall Creator’s Update as they did for the spring edition. Some users are only getting their spring update right now. There is a way to force an update but I wonder how MS will handle the case when a user plugs in a new headset but Windows is the wrong version?

    • 12Danny123

      Windows 10 CU already has a version of Windows MR. So in theory plugging it into a PC, it’ll work regardless.

      • RFC_VR

        even my Intel NUC has Win 10 creators on it; I’ve been looking at that “mixed reality portal” for some months on the start menu

    • Lionel Townsend

      I a video on YouTube the youtuber stated that Windows recognizes the headset is plugged in then updates to fall update.

  • Lucio Lima

    “95 degrees horizontal field of view” ? NO, thank you!

  • Foreign Devil

    I wonder why all these companies came out with the same specs and nearly same price point? Doesn’t any of them want a competitive edge??

    • shot in the dark here, but there may have been some sort of consortium whereby they all agreed to release a relatively same spec product with a similar price point to allow the developer community to build for all. I think we’ll soon enough find which headset has the edge based on features such as screen quality/ optics/ ergonomics/ tracking quality etc.

      • Armando Tavares

        @ Charles Duffy

        That’s not a shot in the dark at all. It makes perfect sense.

        For now they will play nice. They need to sell devices….a LOT of them. Platform stability and a lot of users is music for developers ears.

        I see people commenting on prices (here and on other forums) and stuff like that but the main selling point of these devices, and this is just my opinion, isn’t their price: It’s the simple fact that these will (probably) work with the computer you already have at home.

        Even if you go for the ‘Ultra’ experience and need a new computer you can get away with a 70$ AMD CPU, 150$ GC and 8Gb of RAM and that’s cheaper then getting a new cellphone.

    • Dllemm

      Because Microsoft is paying them to develop the hardware. There are slim margins on the hardware. The play here is to drive Microsoft Store purchases of VR content.

  • flamaest

    Can MS please just finally announce the plan for Scorpio support? … all these headsets and nothing really works with Xbox yet?

    • Master E

      It was the one reason I was excited about Scorpio… doubt we will see MR with it for at least a year. Guess this gives devs time to make some launch titles so it doesn’t suffer from lack of content like PSVR did.

  • CoffeeBuzz

    why is the fov so low / small ? 95? why 10 degress back from vive and oculus?

    • Master E

      Agreed… after using the Vive Rift and PSVR 110 should be the bare minimum nowadays… glad they are coming out with a headset, but making inferior products in any aspect of an HMD is only going to make those skeptical people not take a second look down the line when they are better…

  • Doon1

    I was looking at some of the manufacturer’s pics and it looks like there is not a physical IPD adjustment like on the Rift and Vive. With and IPD of 71 (fat head) I won’t be able to use any of these HMD’s if that is in fact the case.
    It seems like each HMD has 1 feature that stands out but also has at least one feature that sucks in comparison to a competitor’s product. It would be great if someone could build a device that combines the best (most customizable) features of each existing platform.
    I’m thinking that LG and Oculus are going to have to bring a higher resolution HMD to market before Christmas or risk losing all of their holiday sales to these new devices. That will be the HMD I will buy. Even If I have to wait until after Christmas. Hell, I’ve been waiting for a decent HMD since the VFX1.

  • JesperL

    They all seem like a downgrade from Rift and Vive. Only a slightly better price, and a little better resolution, but worse on tracking and FOV. – So basically they are all just a cheaper entry to VR for those who cannot afford Vive or Rift?