Samsung HMD Odyssey: Our Conclusion
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.
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.
MORE: Virtual Reality Basics