The Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset
Acer's WMR Headset and its controllers come packed in a pair of blue boxes. The headset is wrapped in plastic, and then stuffed between foam padding on either side to keep it snug during shipping. You also receive an owner's guide and a voucher for a free copy of GhostBusters VR.
The headset sticks out from most consumer electronic devices because of its vibrant blue color, which seemed odd at first, but grew on us over time.
Up front, you'll find two black-and-white cameras, along with an infrared sensor, both derived from the Microsoft HoloLens headset. The cameras enable inside-out spatial tracking, while the infrared sensor tracks the wand controllers. Those tracking cameras do not facilitate pass-through vision (a live video feed, basically), meaning you can’t use the headset for AR experiences.
Acer's design employs a mechanical head strap system like the one found on Sony’s PlayStation VR. This strap has a moisture-proof padded section for your forehead, and another one for the back of your head. On the strap's back side, you’ll find a blue dial that lets you adjust for different head sizes.
Unlike the PlayStation VR, Acer’s head strap mechanism doesn’t include a release button. We consider this to be a serious oversight. The dial locks in place with a click when you tighten it, and if you turn it too far, force is the only way to unlock the mechanism. We predict this will be a premature wear point that could cause problems down the road.
Fortunately, you don’t need to remove the headset as often as you would with a Rift or Vive. Those devices prevent you from interacting with the real world altogether. But with Acer's WMR HMD, you simply flip the visor up.
Though the flip-up visor is a nice feature, it does introduce some fresh concerns. For instance, because of the hinge system, Acer’s headset doesn’t put any pressure on your cheeks. That sounds like a good thing. But it could also allow light in if you have slim facial features. The hinge is also a potential failure point. So far, ours is holding up well enough. However, the hinge's actuation feels cheap, like something you'd find on a child's toy. We worry it might eventually fail to hold the headset upright.
At least Acer’s headset is a featherweight. HTC’s Vive weighs 563 grams with the standard head strap, and a staggering 812 grams with the Deluxe Audio Strap installed. The Rift is somewhat lighter at 470 grams (with its cable detached). And Acer’s headset is lighter still at 446 grams. The Windows Mixed Reality Headset's cable doesn't disconnect, as it does from the Rift and Vive, so our comparison may not be exact. Still, we're confident that Acer’s headset weighs less than a Rift.
The WMR Headset is also surprisingly compact. Its body measures just 195.8mm wide and 73.9mm tall, whereas Oculus' Rift, which was once the benchmark for compactness, is 171mm wide (216mm with headphones) and 88mm tall. Acer's headset is about as deep as Oculus' Rift, though: it measures 109mm, compared to the Rift’s 102mm depth.
Inside, Acer’s team installs two 2.89” x 2” 1440x1440 LCD panels. Similar to Sony's PSVR, the displays can operate at 60 or 90 Hz to accommodate lower-performance hardware. The headset also includes a proximity sensor that activates the displays when it detects your head.
There are two 50mm round Fresnel lenses in the headset, and they're mounted at a fixed 63mm interpupillary distance. Unlike the Rift and Vive, Acer’s WMR Headset doesn’t offer a mechanical IPD adjustment. Acer instead relies on software-based IPD calibration, allowing an 8mm adjustment range.
When the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive came out, screen door effect was a major concern. Acer’s headset offers a higher resolution than either competing HMD. This helps reduce SDE, but doesn't eliminate it. If you look closely enough, you will see gaps between the sub-pixels.
Subjectively, Acer’s headset provides superior image clarity compared to the Rift and Vive. However, its screens still aren't crisp enough to make small text legible.
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