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Acer Windows Mixed Reality HMD Review

A Simple Setup Process

Microsoft boasts that it offers the “quickest, easiest setup available” of any desktop VR system, claiming you should have your Windows MR headset up and running in 10 minutes or less. After trying this for ourselves, we agree. The Windows MR setup process is quick and (mostly) painless.

Microsoft’s WMR platform doesn’t require external cameras like the Oculus Rift, and it doesn’t have external base stations like Valve’s SteamVR Tracking technology. Instead, this is the first platform to offer inside-out tracking, which uses embedded cameras to track your surroundings. As a result, there are far fewer steps in the WMR setup process.

First, ensure that your PC is up to date with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. If you don’t already have this build installed, you can manually apply it with Microsoft's Update Assistant.

With Windows fully updated, launch the Mixed Reality Portal. You can open the software manually from the Start menu, or plug in the headset, which launches the software automatically. Click on Get Started, and you’ll receive a prompt to read the terms of service and agree to its stipulations. After pressing “I Agree,” the software runs a compatibility check on your system.

The next step requires a Windows MR headset. If the headset isn’t hooked up yet, you’ll see a prompt to connect it. Windows should detect the HMD and install its drivers automatically. Then click Next to pair the controllers.

To turn on the WMR controllers, press and hold the Windows button for two seconds. The LEDs on each controller’s halo should light up and blink slowly. You should also feel a slight vibration when the controller powers on. Pull the battery cover off and press the Bluetooth pairing button next to the batteries.

If the Bluetooth signal is strong enough, the controller should pair in a couple of seconds. If your computer’s Bluetooth controller shares the antenna from your motherboard’s Wi-Fi connection, make sure the external antenna is installed or you’ll experience tracking problems.

Room-Scale or Seated

Microsoft offers room-scale tracking (the recommended configuration), facilitating seated, standing, and room-scale VR experiences. Like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, Microsoft’s room-scale platform employs a boundary system to help keep you within a safe tracking area. If you select the room-scale option, you must clear a space and then trace its area so that your computer understands where your safe zone is located. Rather than tracing with a controller, you carry the headset around to trace this safe zone.

Microsoft indicates that you need at least a 5x7-foot space for room-scale tracking. We’re not sure what the maximum play area is, but our Acer WMR Headset's tether is shorter than the one on our HTC Vive, which means it won't cover as much ground.

Cortana Can Help

Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant is deeply integrated into the Windows Mixed Reality platform. With Cortana, you can use your voice to dictate many tasks within the virtual environment, such as launching and closing applications, moving and resizing windows, adjusting or muting the volume, and taking snapshots or recordings.

To use Cortana, you must have a wired headset attached to the HMD's audio jack. Microsoft does not support Bluetooth headsets in WMR. To activate Cortana, say “Hey Cortana” like you would on your desktop PC or Surface device. For a full list of commands, refer to Microsoft’s support documentation.


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  • steve15180
    I realize the article has a certain lead time. However, when the price dropped like a rock on these headsets last week, that changed the whole conclusion of the article. Is it
    really that difficult in an online publication to update pricing before publishing? Not
    the first time I've seen pricing off on these articles.
    Reply
  • jpe1701
    I have the HP hmd and I really like it. Are all of the controllers the same for wmr? Mine fit my hand well but as you say they don't inspire much confidence that they will last.
    Reply
  • ninjustin
    I can't wait to work in an office where we all look like Daft Punk.
    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    20647180 said:
    I realize the article has a certain lead time. However, when the price dropped like a rock on these headsets last week, that changed the whole conclusion of the article. Is it
    really that difficult in an online publication to update pricing before publishing? Not
    the first time I've seen pricing off on these articles.

    The price didn't drop. Amazon is selling them at a huge discount, but if you look at Microsoft's website the price hasn't dropped for any of them.
    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-mixed-reality
    Reply
  • Sakkura
    20649878 said:
    20647180 said:
    I realize the article has a certain lead time. However, when the price dropped like a rock on these headsets last week, that changed the whole conclusion of the article. Is it
    really that difficult in an online publication to update pricing before publishing? Not
    the first time I've seen pricing off on these articles.

    The price didn't drop. Amazon is selling them at a huge discount, but if you look at Microsoft's website the price hasn't dropped for any of them.
    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-mixed-reality

    Amazon is a much bigger store than Microsoft. And this is not the first time the price has dropped either. $400 is just a technicality, the practical price for the headset is under $300 (as are the other Windows MR headset, apart from the much better Samsung Odyssey model).

    On another note, I think you should have put more emphasis on the lack of integrated audio. You're forced to fiddle with a separate audio headset, with its own extra cord flopping around, and often physically interfering with the VR headset. It's really a major downside compared to the Samsung Odyssey, Oculus Rift, and Vive + deluxe headstrap upgrade.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    20650111 said:
    And this is not the first time the price has dropped either. $400 is just a technicality, the practical price for the headset is under $300 (as are the other Windows MR headset, apart from the much better Samsung Odyssey model).
    Yep, WMR headsets have been commonly available under $300 for a while. Sure, the MSRP might not have officially dropped, but the headsets from Acer, Dell, Lenovo and HP are all available in this price range online. In fact, some have gone on sale for under $250 at times. The Oculus Rift getting permanently discounted to $400 has made it necessary for these headsets on a less established platform to sell for less, particularly since most of them don't do much to be distinct from one another. I'm sure the high price of graphics cards hasn't helped either. It's undoubtedly hurting sales of the Rift and Vive too, but the higher resolution of these HMDs means even higher-end hardware is required for gaming, which is undoubtedly still their main draw.

    It might be worth at least mentioning in the conclusion that it may be possible to find the headsets for well under retail. That could change of course, if adoption of the platform were to really pick up, but I think the main thing selling them currently is their lower price.
    Reply
  • SWKerr
    This is a pretty weak review especially considering that it is months after release. The cost of the actual Windows MR headsets has been between $200-300 for more than a month. Not mentioning this fact makes the conclusion misleading at best.

    I find it odd that you did not delve into the fact the Windows store has very few games and that you really need to use the Steam store for gaming. (Which is what 95% of people want these things for.) It would have been very helpful had you talked about this and mention some potential game compatibility limitations. Personally I have found the MR headsets work very well for every game I have tried but since they are not written for MR you are often looking at a Vive controller and guessing about how controls are mapped.

    Having used all available VR headsets at this point, I actually like the Windows MR the best. It is about the ease of setup. You do not end up with a bunch of wires running everywhere for the tracking and unless you have a large dedicated room for VR this is a big deal. The tracking may not be quite as good as a perfect setup of the competitors but it is functionally really good.

    Video cards: VR reviews should mention the current state of decent video cards at this time. These things will be very disappointing on anything less than a GTX 1060 6GB or RX 580 8GB. But...getting you hands on one is unlikely at any reasonable price point.

    Controllers: The reference controller could be better ergonomically but they are not uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. (Samsung actually made a better version for their headset combo.) What I find nice about the controller is that becase they have both the touch pad and stick inputs you can generally play both Vive and Rift games. The controllers are interchangeable across all the headsets and I expect someone to come out with a better aftermarket controller at some point.

    Really the Windows MR headsets are a good entry point for VR. They would not be good value at $399 but they are nowhere close to that price point.
    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    20651505 said:
    This is a pretty weak review especially considering that it is months after release. The cost of the actual Windows MR headsets has been between $200-300 for more than a month. Not mentioning this fact makes the conclusion misleading at best.

    I find it odd that you did not delve into the fact the Windows store has very few games and that you really need to use the Steam store for gaming. (Which is what 95% of people want these things for.) It would have been very helpful had you talked about this and mention some potential game compatibility limitations. Personally I have found the MR headsets work very well for every game I have tried but since they are not written for MR you are often looking at a Vive controller and guessing about how controls are mapped.

    Having used all available VR headsets at this point, I actually like the Windows MR the best. It is about the ease of setup. You do not end up with a bunch of wires running everywhere for the tracking and unless you have a large dedicated room for VR this is a big deal. The tracking may not be quite as good as a perfect setup of the competitors but it is functionally really good.

    Video cards: VR reviews should mention the current state of decent video cards at this time. These things will be very disappointing on anything less than a GTX 1060 6GB or RX 580 8GB. But...getting you hands on one is unlikely at any reasonable price point.

    Controllers: The reference controller could be better ergonomically but they are not uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. (Samsung actually made a better version for their headset combo.) What I find nice about the controller is that becase they have both the touch pad and stick inputs you can generally play both Vive and Rift games. The controllers are interchangeable across all the headsets and I expect someone to come out with a better aftermarket controller at some point.

    Really the Windows MR headsets are a good entry point for VR. They would not be good value at $399 but they are nowhere close to that price point.

    "This is a pretty weak review especially considering that it is months after release."
    I'm sorry you feel that way. I'm not going to get into the politics behind the delay in publishing, but the review was written before Christmas.

    "The cost of the actual Windows MR headsets has been between $200-300 for more than a month."
    Amazon is the only place that I've seen the headset discounted. Acer did no drop the price, and Microsoft didn't step in to subsidize the cost.
    When the price comes down at all retailers, we'll update the review. Until then, I stand by what I wrote. Acer wants $400 for the package, and unless you buy from Amazon, that's what you'll pay.

    "I find it odd that you did not delve into the fact the Windows store has very few games and that you really need to use the Steam store for gaming."
    Page 8 discusses that briefly. What would you suggest should be added?

    "Video cards: VR reviews should mention the current state of decent video cards at this time."
    We have written a lot about the current state of the graphics card market. I don't believe that has any place in a VR review because it's a temporary state of the market. Yes, it sucks to buy into VR right now because of GPU prices, but that doesn't affect the merit of the headset itself, nor the platform it runs on.

    "Controllers: The reference controller could be better ergonomically but they are not uncomfortable to use for long periods of time."
    Maybe for you, but my hands cramped up within 10 minutes of using them, and several people who tried it had similar complaints. Not everyone will have that problem, but the controllers were not designed in such a way that most people won't have problems.
    As for the Samsung controllers-- I haven't received a sample from Samsung yet, so I can't say much about that. I used Samsung's controllers for about 10 minutes and they are much better ergonomically.
    Reply
  • Heliosurge
    Reguarding no integrated audio; have you considered one of the many wireless headset options? Many bluetooth ones also require no headband.

    Steam? Did you miss the "Early Access support" support in steam. Or the fact that if you are a steam user; we would see a new headset icon that represents WMR.

    Reviews usually go with suggested retail price not a retailer's sale. Now i do agree that a small addition mentioning that Amazon is having a sale on them.

    But all in all a great review!
    Reply
  • Heliosurge
    Kevin

    While Intel's igpu peeformane was not good are you able to run some tests on Amd's Apus? Fm2+ & Ryzen Apus would be interesting if they yeild better results.
    Reply