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Samsung HMD Odyssey Windows Mixed Reality Headset Review: MR Goes Premium

Samsung HMD Odyssey: Our Conclusion

Final Thoughts

Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform is regarded as a budget option for virtual reality entry, and there's no denying that, on some level, that's what it is. Of the six Windows MR hardware partners, four of the companies released headsets for less than $400. And we’ve seen Windows MR headsets on sale for as little as $220 in recent weeks. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t space for a premium-quality HMD within the MR platform's ranks.

Samsung is keen to capture the discerning HMD buyer, who’s looking for a high-end piece of kit but doesn’t want the hassle of extra wires and the setup of base stations and sensors. Samsung’s Odyssey checks many much-appreciated boxes, thanks to its high-resolution AMOLED panels, adjustable lenses, sturdy construction, moisture-proof cushions, integrated audio, ergonomic controllers, and Microsoft’s inside-out tracking technology.

The Odyssey headset is the most expensive Windows Mixed Reality VR HMD on the market, but the price is high for good reason. You could pick up a Windows MR HMD from other Windows MR hardware partners on sale for not much more than half the price of the Odyssey, but we still think Samsung’s device is a better value overall. We've described aspects of those other devices as feeling toy-like. (We're looking at you, Acer Windows Mixed Reality HMD.) Samsung’s headset doesn’t feel like a toy, by any measure.

You also shouldn’t overlook the merits of the integrated headphones and microphones. Oculus got that right with the Rift, and HTC had to play catch-up with its own deluxe audio strap. It’s a shame that most of Microsoft’s HMD partners didn’t catch on to the importance of on-headset audio, but this serves as another example of the level of attention that Samsung employed in the design of the Odyssey HMD.

Bottom Line

The Samsung Odyssey Windows Mixed Reality HMD currently sits in a class of its own within the Windows Mixed Reality ecosystem. If you’re the type of person who likes to have the “best” best product in a category, we can say confidently that the Samsung Odyssey wears the crown within the Windows Mixed Reality world.

Is it the best HMD that we’ve ever tested? No. Despite the higher-resolution displays and the overall high regard we hold for the Odyssey’s build quality and features, we would still lean toward an HTC Vive with a Deluxe Audio Head Strap for the most complete VR experience--especially now that you can buy a Vive for $499. That said, if your primary need for a VR HMD is productivity, or you play games like Elite Dangerous, which have text-based menus, the higher pixel count of the Odyssey HMD is a big benefit.

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  • P1nky
    The graphs are completely unreadable. There's no high quality version.
    Reply
  • daviddalke
    I use my glasses all the time with the Odyssey. The are big and Geeky with progressive lenses (+2.25 for farsightedness). Other than a bit of vertical fuzziness at the bottom due to the progressive lens, I have no issues using it.
    Reply
  • daviddalke
    The article comments that if you wear glasses to move on. I wear my glasses all the time with my Odyssey. The are big and geeky and have +2.5 progressive lenses. Other than a bit of fuzziness at the bottom of the screen due to the my lenses I have a very enjoyable experience with the Odyssey. I hope Microsoft doesn't abandon their MR effort.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    "we would still lean toward an HTC Vive with a Deluxe Audio Head Strap for the most complete VR experience"

    Why? Is it the inferior Vive controllers? The sweet last-gen outside-in tracking? Displays? The extra $100 for the DAS? When you make a comment like that, it's nice to point out why.
    Reply
  • Evolution2001
    20843150 said:
    "we would still lean toward an HTC Vive with a Deluxe Audio Head Strap for the most complete VR experience"
    Why? Is it the inferior Vive controllers? The sweet last-gen outside-in tracking? Displays? The extra $100 for the DAS? When you make a comment like that, it's nice to point out why.
    Here's my reason why I prefer the Vive over the Odyssey.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-3664417/review-samsung-odyssey-htc-vive.html
    Reply
  • Evolution2001
    20841634 said:
    Samsung HMD Odyssey Windows Mixed Reality Headset Review: MR Goes Premium : Read more
    Kevin,
    I believe there was a fairly glaring omission from your otherwise thorough review.
    WMR requires Bluetooth 4.0. As BT is more prevalent on laptops than desktops, that might be a gotcha when people get their WMR unit, regardless of manufacturer & model.
    "Cool! It's finally arrived!".... "Wait, WTF...I need a BT adapter??? GAHHH!"

    Here's a couple of tips that I didn't note in my own review from my month+ spent with the Odyssey.

    1) Before anyone purchases any WMR device, you should run Microsoft's WMR PC Check tool. It's a free download in MS' App Store. (HERE) If there's any "X" that it calls out as a problem, WMR will not work. Period.

    2) This is the BT adapter that MS officially(?) endorses on their website. Link goes to product on Amazon.

    3) I found the controller tracking to be very inconsistent with the Odyssey. In your gaming/testing, did you do much movement where the controllers needed to go to the outer stretches of your arms or behind your head (for games such as Space Pirate Trainer and Beat The Blitz)? My controllers with fully juiced batteries would lose sync which really detracts from the total immersion.
    Also, you are correct about the battery cover. As I noted in my review, my grip on the controller was dislodging the battery cover.

    4) If my understanding is correct, the controllers pair to your BT adapter. This potentially causes signal attenuation if your BT adapter is plugged into a rear USB port or is simply not always in line-of-sight with the controllers.

    5) I too found the tether to be too short. So I ended up buying some extension cables which resolved the problem. Be aware, not all extension cables are created equal. For example, a 'standard' USB extension cable does not infer USB 3.0 compatibility. And WMR is very specific if you aren't plugged into a a USB 3.0 port. I thought maybe it was just power delivery, but I was initially using a powered USB 2.0 extension cord. No go. It has to be a USB 3.0-rated extension cable. Same thing with HDMI certifications.
    So here's what I recommend for people looking to extend their playing area. (Obviously, I confirm these work with the WMR headsets, specifically the Odyssey)
    - 6' HDMI extension cable- USB 3.0 extension cable- Any run of the mill USB 2.0 extension cable so get your BT adapter closer to the play area.

    6) Lastly, with regards to the comparison of built-in audio on the Odyssey compared to the lack-of on the Vive... The Vive has the 1/8" headphone tap on it. A solid set of earbuds fill the need nicely. Their cable drapes over the back of your head and are never in the way. So people don't have to resort to placing big, over-the-ear headphones over the Vive's head strap. I will say that the AKGs on the Odyssey do work exceptionally well!

    Again, a nice thorough review. I just wanted to help plug what I consider to be a few holes so the readers can avoid a lot of the delays and headaches that I initially dealt with.
    And I also agree- especially given the Vive's price drop since the Vive Pro released- the Vive is still the overall HMD winner.

    Reply
  • therealduckofdeath
    I don't see how the 6th point you list is a pro for the Vive, Evolution2001? Using ear-buds can be rather fatiguing when used for extended periods, both the fit and the type of sound you get when it's pumped at your ear drum in a tiny closed pressure chamber. They also create a lot more cable noise than any other option.
    Reply