Windows Mixed Reality, An In-Depth Review of the Headset from Acer
With the success of the first generation of mainstream PC VR headsets, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, Microsoft decided they needed to enter the game. The result is the Windows Mixed Reality platform, which allows a variety of manufacturers to enter the PC VR space. As we outlined in a previous blog post, the dividing lines between virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality frequently overlap. With that in mind, we were excited to get our hands on Acer’s Mixed Reality headset. The promise of mixed reality is great and could have as much, if not more, mainstream appeal as virtual reality. However, the technology is still in its infancy. Windows’ fledgeling Mixed Reality platform hasn’t had the chance to mature in the same way that the Oculus Store and SteamVR platforms have.
In our Acer Mixed Reality headset review, we take a look at some of the vital features of this promising device, from its key specs and hardware to its design and range of content. As you’ll see, there’s a lot we liked, but ultimately we found it to be lacking in quite a few areas.
Acer Mixed Reality Headset Pros and Cons
- Incredibly easy to set up and start using.
- High-resolution display looks sharp.
- Design looks good but feels cheap.
- Controllers aren’t particularly great.
- Better options in same price range.
Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset Key Specs
There are some fairly impressive features that the Acer headset offers, we’ve outlined the key information you need to know, below:
|Screen||The headset has a 2.9 x 2-inch LCD panel, providing a 1440 x 1440 resolution per eye. It’s capable of a 90Hz refresh rate, with a field of view of 100-degrees.|
|Operating System||Requires Windows 10 with at least the Fall Creators Update installed.|
|CPU, RAM, and Storage||8 GB RAM is required, as well as a 7th Gen Intel Core i5 processor for notebooks or 6th Gen Intel Core i5 for desktops. Hard drive storage will be required for games.|
|Connectivity||Requires one HDMI and one USB connection to get set up.|
|Network features||Uses PC’s network features.|
|Sensors||IMU + Magnetic Sensor, 6DoF tracking with forward-facing cameras and constellation LEDs.|
|Size||152.7x 119.1 x 119.1mm.|
|Weight||171g (6.03 oz.)|
|Battery||Controllers require 2x AA batteries.|
There are certainly some interesting aspects to this headset; the resolution of 2,880 x 1,440 is impressive when compared directly to the Vive and Rift, but unfortunately, it’s an LCD rather than OLED screen. As a result, the screen door effect is rather pronounced. Similarly, the field of view of 100-degrees puts it on par with the PlayStation VR headset, lower than the 110-degrees of the Rift and Vive. Overall, the price is reasonable, but the Oculus Rift is around the same price and is far superior, as we’ll see.
The device’s hardware is impressive enough; forward-facing cameras mean that it’s capable of 6DoF tracking, which usually works pretty well.
Acer Mixed Reality Headset Hardware
The device’s hardware is impressive enough; forward-facing cameras mean that it’s capable of 6DoF tracking, which usually works pretty well. It means that you don’t need any external sensors, like the majority of the premium headsets currently available. As such, we found it incredibly easy to set the device up. All you need to do is connect the USB and HDMI cables to your PC, and you’ll be guided through the setup. If you haven’t kept your Windows 10 install up-to-date, you’ll be prompted to do that first.
The Acer Mixed Reality headset comes bundled with two controllers. On the surface, they look similar to the Oculus Touch controllers. Sadly, they’re nowhere near as impressive as their counterparts. They don’t feel particularly sturdy, and while they’re intuitive enough to use, we found that they would stop tracking if you look away from them when using the headset. This patchy tracking is likely due to the fact they’re tracked by the front-facing cameras. One further annoyance is that once the batteries die, the controllers will switch off without much notice.
Acer Mixed Reality Headset Key Features
Perhaps the main draw of the headset is the fact it’s sold as a ‘Mixed Reality’ device. However, we’ve so far not seen anything that makes it deserving of this title. Everything we did with the headset was firmly a VR experience, nothing too different from what we’ve seen from other PC-based devices. The Cliff House virtual space is fun and easy to navigate, as is the use of the Edge browser, and even Cortana voice controls. But it doesn’t feel particularly unique.
It is nice being able to get started with the Acer headset without too much setup. Unlike the Vive, Rift, and PSVR, there aren’t a load of cables and external sensors to have to worry about. A simple HDMI and USB connection is all you need to get started. Similarly, the controllers don’t need a lot of calibration; the forward-facing cameras pick them up automatically. It’s also great having everything you need to get started, including battery controllers, included in the box.
Ultimately though, there’s just aren’t enough features with the ‘wow’ factor to make it stand out.
Key Features: 6/10
Acer Mixed Reality Headset Design
The design feels like a huge missed opportunity. We actually really like the look of this headset. The light and glossy blue frontage is a nice change from the usual black/white/grey that we’ve become accustomed to. It looks like a retro sci-fi device; fun, slightly unusual, and ‘futuristic’.
The same goes for the controllers with their band of disco-like LEDs. Sadly, the design isn’t backed up with quality materials. This doesn’t feel like a high-quality device worth £400/$400. The plastic feels flimsy, on both controllers and headset, like it is a demo model rather than a finished device.
We also had a few gripes with the face cushioning; it didn’t feel quite secure on anyone’s face, yet pinched the bridge of everyone’s nose. The knob to adjust the headband also didn’t feel particularly sturdy. It works well, but there were some concerns around the office that it was all going to fall apart if we adjusted it too much. When you compare the Acer headset to the Rift or Vive, or even PSVR, it seems to be lacking. All of the others feel like premium headsets; sturdy, secure, and made of durable materials. When you consider the Rift is almost identically priced, the gulf in quality is even more apparent.
Acer Mixed Reality Headset Software and Content
An area in which the Acer headset is still lacking is with its software offering. Part of the appeal is that it’s a mixed reality device, supposedly. But we didn’t see anything that stood out as demonstrating the use of that technology. There are some games that work well on the device, Superhot VR being an example that stood out, but these are all available on the Oculus Store and SteamVR platform too. There’s nothing that separates the Acer device from what are frankly better headsets in a similar price range. No doubt there will be more mixed reality experiences available in the future, but for now, it feels like a major let down. This isn’t necessarily Acer’s fault; there obviously isn’t the demand for such apps and games right now. Hopefully, more developers get on board with MR soon.
Aside from the lack of MR, the headset handles a number of games and experiences with aplomb. We liked the Cliff House VR hub; it’s fun to move stuff around, surround yourself with various windows, and watch movies on the big screen via Netflix. We already mentioned the occasional tracking issues with the controllers, but aside from this they work well enough as your virtual ‘hands’.
Acer Mixed Reality Headset Review: Final Thoughts
Overall, it feels like this mixed reality offering is more of a missed opportunity. Many of the ideas behind the device are sound; the headset looks great, requires few wires and no external sensors, and is easy to set up. Yet the flimsy plastic build seems to apply to both the physical model and its offering as an MR device. There currently isn’t any reason to choose this headset above the Oculus Rift; the latter feels like a premium device, works fantastically well with three sensors, and has a vast content library of quality games and apps.
With standalone headsets such as the Lenovo Mirage Solo arriving on the market, and console owners being given the option of the excellent PSVR, there seems little room for the Acer Mixed Reality headset at this price range.