Mixed Reality: HP, Lenovo and Acer pre-ordered headsets

Last April, Microsoft unveiled the Creators Update, an update announced as major a few months ago. Innovations included a game mode, as well as a software layer called Mixed Reality (formerly known as HoloLens). This was to allow the development and use of mixed reality at the crossroads of virtual reality and augmented reality.

A technology that feels good novelty

The manufacturers Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo had partnered with Microsoft as partners on this occasion, which led to similar headsets, at similar rates: $ 299. A prize that reflects the desire of the Redmond firm to democratize this technology. The different APIs and SDKs in the Creators Update also left the developers free to propose new applications.

What differences between augmented, virtual and mixed reality?

When we speak of mixed reality, we place technology in parallel with virtual reality and augmented reality. The augmented reality involves using the real world to display information (in 2D or 3D), with which the user will be able to interact. Think of Pokémon Go, for example. The RA is also the latest bet of Apple, which has largely centered the marketing of the iPhone X around this technology.

A representation of augmented reality on the iPhone X

Virtual reality, on the contrary, plunges its user into a world modeled in three dimensions. This is Sony's new livelihood in particular, with its PlayStation VR headset that has just received a minor update, but also Oculus and its headset Rift, a company acquired by Facebook. When we talk about virtual reality we are addressing, at the present time in any case, individuals and especially players, rather than professionals. Between Skyrim VR, Fallout 4 VR and DOOM VFR, the publisher Bethesda is the spearhead of this trend on PS4 and PC – failing to offer innovative games.

Mixed reality is closer to augmented reality than to virtual reality. Unlike augmented reality, mixed reality inserts synthetic objects into the real environment, objects with which the user can interact. Eyeglasses are essential to use, and if Microsoft reserves its HoloLens for professionals and developers, the manufacturers Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo will all offer headsets at a much more affordable price.

An accessible minimum configuration

It is not enough to have a helmet of mixed reality, it is still necessary to be able to use it to the best of its capacities. Luckily, Microsoft's technology available since April is not the most demanding, and a typical desktop computer can handle it: an Intel Core i3 Desktop processor, 8 GB of RAM and at least one Intel HD Graphics GPU 620 allows you to enjoy it.

The helmet of Acer RA, available mid-October

This is not to say that a more advanced configuration will not be useful, quite the contrary: a more powerful GPU such as a Nvidia GTX 1070 will offer better performance, just like a better processor. At present, three manufacturers are offering their mixed reality headphones: Lenovo with the Explorer as well as Acer and HP. At the beginning of October, the Samsung Odyssey should also be announced.

The helmets have all the same technical data: a field of view at 95 °, a resolution of 2880 x 1440 pixels, a refresh rate of 60 Hz (HDMI 1.4) and 90 Hz (HDMI 2.0) and the usual connectivity: 3.5mm audio jack input, HDMI 1.4 / 2.0 output, USB 2.0 and Bluetooth 4.0 for accessories including the joysticks. Three of them are already available at Fnac, from 399 €.

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