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Mixed Reality HMD Dev Kits From HP, Acer (Update: Specs And PC Reqs)

Update, 5/11/17, 1:37pm PT: Microsoft has published the specs of the two dev kits from HP and Acer, as well as the PC specs that will be required for them. We've added those details below and have altered the text accordingly.

Update 2, 5/12/17, 12:21pm PT: Microsoft confirmed the correct CPU in the PC specs chart. We have adjusted the text accordingly.

Original article, 5/11/17:

Starting today, Windows Mixed Reality HMD dev kits from both Acer and HP are available...for preorder.

Details on the pair are now available (see below). The Acer version will cost $300, and the HP model will be $329. They’re up for preorder in the U.S. and Canada via the Microsoft Store, and they’ll ship in August.

Acer Mixed Reality HMD Dev KitHP Mixed Reality HMD Dev Kit
Display-2x LCD displays (1440x1440)-Up to 90Hz (native)-2.89” diagonal display size (each)
FoV95 degrees horizontal
TrackingInside-out
AudioBuilt-in, audio out/microphone through 3.5mm jack
PC ConnectivitySingle cable with HDMI 2.0 (display) and USB 3.0 (data)
Cable4m4m/0.6m removable cable
ControllersNot included
Misc.--Double-padded headband and easy adjustment knob for all day comfort”
Price$300$329

The HP version looks remarkably similar to the Acer model (and the Lenovo one, for that matter). It has the same flip-up visor design, headstrap design, and front-facing sensors. And as you can see from the specifications, indeed, they're nearly identical.

It’s worth noting which OEMs are present from this announcement and which are missing. It’s certainly no surprise that the Acer dev kits are included--indeed, we already knew about them, and Microsoft has already publicly pledged to give some away--and we’ve known for some time that HP was working on a mixed reality HMD.

3Glasses already has a working prototype as well, though. Perhaps the fact that it’s not a major PC maker means Microsoft doesn’t trust that 3Glasses can produce its HMDs in volume, and thus it makes little sense to get devs hooked on that company’s product.

However, where are Asus, Dell, and Lenovo? Although we’ve been expecting HMDs from all three, the fact that we’ve seen and heard nothing substantive from any of them had us wondering if they’d abandoned the project. (It’s true that Lenovo showed an HMD at CES, but it was non-functioning.) However, a Microsoft rep inadvertently confirmed that Asus and Dell, at least, are building their own HMDs.

So why aren’t they included in the first crush of dev kits? That’s anyone’s guess, but if we take what Lenovo told us at CES--essentially, that they hadn’t even decided on which features to implement on the HMD--and assume that Dell and Asus are in the same boat, it’s likely that they’re just behind schedule. (That’s assuming they’re excited about Windows Mixed Reality; they may be dragging their feet and letting Acer--and now HP--bear the burden of gauging market interest and troubleshooting any problems.)

In any case, Acer and HP (and 3Glasses--don’t forget about 3Glasses) are now the standard bearers for Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Apparently, HP has HMDs ready to go (or almost ready to go), but for what it’s worth, Acer is building them like crazy; we’ve seen dozens and dozens of them all over the Build 2017 show floor. 

Today at Microsoft Build, Microsoft also announced the Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers and a retail Acer HMD bundle that includes the motion controllers.

The company has also published the minimum PC requirements that devs will need to support these headsets:

PC Requirements For HMD Dev Kits
Operating SystemWindows 10 Creators Update (Dev Mode enabled)
CPU-Intel Desktop i7 (6+ Core)-AMD Ryzen 7 1700 (8 Core, 16 threads)
GPUNotebook: -Nvidia GTX 965M, AMD RX 480M (2GB) equivalent or greater -DX12 and WDDM 2.2 capable Desktop: Nvidia GTX 980/1060, AMD Radeon RX 480 (2GB) equivalent or greater-DX12 and WDDM 2.2 capable
Graphics DriversWindows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 2.2
RAM16GB or greater
Storage>10GB additional free space
TDP15W or greater
HDMI-HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 for 60 Hz HMDs-HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2 for 90 Hz HMDs-1x available graphics display port for HMD
USB1x available USB port for HMDUSB 3.0 Type-ANote: USB must supply a minimum of 900mA
Resolution-SVGA (800x600)-Bit depth: 32 bits of color per pixel
Bluetooth>Bluetooth 4.0 (for accessory connectivity)
  • Brian_R170
    How do TDP and Resolution fit into the "PC Requirements for HMD dev kits"

    Also, why are notebook GPUs relevant? How many notebooks have the 6- and 8-core CPUs mentioned? Even mini-desktops with mobile GPUs on MXM cards along with those CPU spec have to be really rare.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    19678914 said:
    How do TDP and Resolution fit into the "PC Requirements for HMD dev kits"

    Also, why are notebook GPUs relevant? How many notebooks have the 6- and 8-core CPUs mentioned? Even mini-desktops with mobile GPUs on MXM cards along with those CPU spec have to be really rare.
    The minimum resolution is likely for support software, like installers, setup utilities and so on, though I can't imagine too many capable systems running at less than 800x600, which is also the minimum for Windows 10. TDP might be referring to the power requirements of the headset itself.

    Tom's seems to have this wrong in that these are not "PC Requirements For HMD Dev Kits" though. Going by the Microsoft store page, they are rather "System recommendations for app developers". So, they're not even requirements, just recommendations for what software developers might wish to have when developing for the HMD. The actual system requirements when these start selling to consumers in stores will almost certainly be lower, especially considering that Intel won't even be selling a 6-core processor for their consumer platforms until next year.

    Reply
  • alextheblue
    19678914 said:
    How do TDP and Resolution fit into the "PC Requirements for HMD dev kits"

    Also, why are notebook GPUs relevant? How many notebooks have the 6- and 8-core CPUs mentioned? Even mini-desktops with mobile GPUs on MXM cards along with those CPU spec have to be really rare.

    These early recommendations for devs list desktop and notebook GPUs but as you noted they fail to list recommended notebook CPUs. This is very likely an oversight. At this point they would probably recommend the fastest 45W i7 you can get in a monster notebook. Consumer reqs will be much lower - though they do not cover nor override individual game requirements.
    Reply
  • computerguy72
    That's a really disappointing FoV, they could have done a lot better.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    19679908 said:
    That's a really disappointing FoV, they could have done a lot better.

    The Oculus Rift and PSVR both have around a 100 degree horizontal field of view, so this isn't much different. The actual field of view will also vary depending on how the headset fits to one's face. And really, the main point of these headsets seems to be making VR on the PC available at a much more palatable price. Even after its price reduction, the Oculus Rift with touch controllers is still priced 50% more than this will be with its motion controllers, and the HTC Vive is currently priced twice as much. You're also getting 60% more pixels for a sharper image at this lower price, and there are many other factors that will affect the overall experience, so it's too early to say how these new headsets will compare to the existing offerings. I do suspect we'll see HTC and Oculus showing off their next generation of headsets before the year is through though.
    Reply
  • c4s2k3
    As others have pointed out, they really need to spell out the consumer system requirements. There is no way a 6-core Intel CPU should be required when a quad-core is sufficient for Oculus and Vive. As a related point, I don't think having a 'consumer' spec system would prevent someone from developing with a DevKit. If I was an indie developer with limited hardware budget (only one system), I would have to pay special attention to make sure my application is not over performing during testing relative to what average consumers might have, if my own platform is an 8-core CPU.
    Reply
  • extremepenguin
    Given these are dev kits not targeted at the consumer not listing consumer specs is reasonable. If they do list them and people do buy them for consumer use (which they will) if they had listed the spec's for it then they have legal obligations to meet. By not releasing the consumer specs on a non consumer product they are just following a little legal CYA. Once the final features are released, because the dev kits are often differ slightly from from a released product they will release the final requirements. We just have to be patient, we've been waiting since they were announced a year ago I am sure we can wait a month or so.
    Reply
  • c4s2k3
    19681749 said:
    Given these are dev kits not targeted at the consumer not listing consumer specs is reasonable. If they do list them and people do buy them for consumer use (which they will) if they had listed the spec's for it then they have legal obligations to meet. By not releasing the consumer specs on a non consumer product they are just following a little legal CYA. Once the final features are released, because the dev kits are often differ slightly from from a released product they will release the final requirements. We just have to be patient, we've been waiting since they were announced a year ago I am sure we can wait a month or so.

    Valid point re: legal side. I would still be concerned that some developers might be discouraged by the artificially high requirements. I would think they want as many devs to jump on board as possible.
    Reply
  • extremepenguin
    During development you often writing and compiling the software on the very same device you are testing from. Take the requirements from say Visual Studio add the requirements of the various development add-ons you are using, then add the requirements for the software you are developing and all of a sudden those "inflated" requirements aren't so inflated.
    Reply
  • scolaner
    19679825 said:
    19678914 said:
    How do TDP and Resolution fit into the "PC Requirements for HMD dev kits"

    Also, why are notebook GPUs relevant? How many notebooks have the 6- and 8-core CPUs mentioned? Even mini-desktops with mobile GPUs on MXM cards along with those CPU spec have to be really rare.
    The minimum resolution is likely for support software, like installers, setup utilities and so on, though I can't imagine too many capable systems running at less than 800x600, which is also the minimum for Windows 10. TDP might be referring to the power requirements of the headset itself.

    Tom's seems to have this wrong in that these are not "PC Requirements For HMD Dev Kits" though. Going by the Microsoft store page, they are rather "System recommendations for app developers". So, they're not even requirements, just recommendations for what software developers might wish to have when developing for the HMD. The actual system requirements when these start selling to consumers in stores will almost certainly be lower, especially considering that Intel won't even be selling a 6-core processor for their consumer platforms until next year.

    Couple things.

    First, fair point--I could have been clearer on that. You're right, those are PC specs MSFT is advising devs to use. Second, we do know what the PC minimum reqs are for the consumer versions: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/pc-requirements-mainstream-vr-hmds,33220.html
    Reply