Another challenger entered the Windows Mixed Reality ring today. Microsoft and Samsung revealed the Odyssey Mixed Reality headset during a presentation about Microsoft’s forthcoming immersive technology platform.
Last year, Microsoft announced that it would be bringing native immersive technology to the Windows operating system. The company revealed the Windows Mixed Reality platform, which would encompass the whole virtual reality to augmented reality spectrum, and combine them with the latest installment of Windows. At the time, Microsoft revealed that a handful of hardware partners would be building VR headsets to go along with the Windows MR platform.
Microsoft worked with several major players in the computer technology industry, including Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo to build Windows MR-compatible headsets. A little known Chinese company called 3Glasses also joined the Windows MR venture, but we’ve not heard from 3Glasses since Microsoft Build in May, and even then the company seemed to be treated as an also-ran, rather than part of the in the crowd.
Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform rolls out as part of the Windows 10 Fall Creators update in mid-October, and the five major players are ready to launch their hardware. Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo have already revealed the specs of their headsets, and they should begin shipping on October 17 (although Asus was absent from Microsoft's announcement today). There’s no word from 3Glasses about the availability of its headset, but Samsung is another major player stepping in to fill that gap.
Microsoft’s Windows MR platform covers a wide gamut of hardware specifications, which allows hardware manufactures to target individual price points and different market needs. Microsoft accepts headsets with resolutions of at least 1080x1200 per eye and refresh rates of at least 60Hz. Microsoft also laid out parameters for high-end Windows MR headsets, which include dual 1440x1440 displays that operate at 90Hz.
Despite defining an upper ceiling for hardware specifications, Microsoft isn’t strict about adhering to the maximum. Samsung’s Odyssey headset includes dual AMOLED displays with a combined resolution 2880 x 1600 pixels, which should provide a wider top-to-bottom field of view than other Windows MR HMDs. Samsung’s Odyssey also offers a 110-degree left-to-right field of view, which exceeds that of the Oculus Rift and matches the maximum FOV that the HTC Vive can achieve.
“When we began designing and engineering the Samsung HMD Odyssey with Microsoft, there was only one goal in mind, create a high performing headset that’s easy to set up and can transport people to the incredible world of virtual reality,” said Alanna Cotton, Vice President, and General Manager, Samsung Electronics America.
Samsung also said the Odyssey headset would include built-in spatial AKG headphones and a built-in dual array microphone to provide an audio experience that complements the visual experience.
The Samsung Odyssey headset is available for pre-order today from Microsoft’s webstore. The Samsung Odyssey headset bundled with motion controllers sells for $500. Pre-ordered hardware is expected to ship of November 6--which is later than Acer, HP, Dell, and Lenovo, which are shipping their gear on October 17.