Samsung’s HMD Odyssey sets sail for the mixed reality party

Despite the term "virtual reality" losing some of its buzz lately, the related field of mixed reality (MR) seems to be picking up steam. Apple's latest phones and iOS release have been built with MR in mind, and Microsoft is making a big push for the technology in its upcoming Windows Creators Fall Update coming later this month. Samsung has thus far been content to poke at VR with its smartphone-centered Gear VR platform, but the Korean manufacturer is set to join the PC MR party with the HMD Odyssey, which is the highest-spec Windows headset we have seen thus far.

The HMD Odyssey has a pair of 3.5" AMOLED displays with a resolution of 1440×1600 per eye. The Odyssey also sets itself apart from competitors with its 110° field of view. HTC's Vive and Oculus' Rift both share a 95° FOV and per-eye resolution of 1080×1200. Getting the Odyssey up and running should be considerably easier than the other two market-leading headsets thanks to its inside-out tracking and lack of external sensor boxes. Acer, Asus, and a few other companies have released headsets that use Microsoft's inside-out tracking technology, but the HMD Odyssey is the first to combine it with OLED displays.

Samsung addressed the audio side of the MR experience with integrated headphones developed in partnership with AKG. The headphones are said to offer 360° spatial sound. An array of microphones is built into the headset for voice commands, and a set of two handheld motion controllers is included in the package.

According to The Verge, Samsung's HMD Odyssey will be available on November 6 for $499. That price matches that of the Oculus Rift and comes in $100 under the HTC Vive's. Pre-orders start in the US today.

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    • Hsldn
    • 2 years ago

    If the latency is as good as Vive and suitable for gaming, this is the one worth buying.

      • Pulsar_the_Spacenerd
      • 2 years ago

      By the general improvements, it definitely sounds like a step up, potentially the start of a new generation of headsets.

      • psuedonymous
      • 2 years ago

      Compared to the Rift/Vive, it’s one step forward, two steps back:
      – Optics are pretty much the same (hybrid fresnel)
      – Refresh rate is the same
      – Panels are higher resolution to bump up the angular resolution, but at a reduced fill-factor (more ‘screen door effect’),
      – Tracking is a BIG step backward from outside-in solutions.

        • Voldenuit
        • 2 years ago

        [quote<] Panels are higher resolution to bump up the angular resolution, but at a reduced fill-factor (more 'screen door effect'),[/quote<] From what I gather, the prominent screen door on the Vive and Rift have more to do with the cheap fresnel optics than the panel resolution. The sony playstationVR has less screen door despite being a lower resolution, for instance. Will see how the Samsung fares, hopefully their partnership with Schneider-Kreuznach gives them a leg up here.

          • psuedonymous
          • 2 years ago

          [quote<]From what I gather, the prominent screen door on the Vive and Rift have more to do with the cheap fresnel optics than the panel resolution.[/quote<] Doubly incorrect: the Rift and PSVR have the highest effective fill-factor, because both use high fill-factor panels with a diffusion filter over the top (the Rift uses a homogenous filter, the PSVR uses a lenticular filter). Vive uses almost identical panels to the Rift, but omits the diffusion filter so drops the apparent fill factor. Everything else (including GearVR, the rest of the Windows MR HMDs, OSVR, etc) are well behind in fill-factor. Fill-factor is entirely down to panel technology. It is the ratio of active emitting area to non-emitting area per unit surface area. The lenses used do not affect this. [quote<] The sony playstationVR has less screen door despite being a lower resolution, for instance.[/quote<] PSVR's spec-sheet resolution is lower, but actually has a higher number of subpixels due to using RGB-stripe rather than RGBG diamond pentile (pentile counts two subpixels per pixel rather than three).

    • Noinoi
    • 2 years ago

    When I first read the article title the name kept reminding me of ships (read it as “HMS Odyssey”). Guess the “sets sail” part is probably something pretty fun the author has done too.

    The thing also looks really comfy at first glance, too, in addition to having very good on-paper specifications. Now all that’s left is to see if the platform takes off – I hope to be able to get my hands on PC VR/MR/AR as soon as I can.

    • RdVi
    • 2 years ago

    Nice specs. At the very least I hope the panels end up in a new Vive and Rift soon enough. Resolution has been a major entry barrier to VR for me.

      • floodo1
      • 2 years ago

      Lack of resolution is basically the only reason I haven’t bought a VR headset

    • psuedonymous
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]The Odyssey also sets itself apart from competitors with its 110° field of view.[/quote<]It sets itself apart with the use of OLED panels while all the other Windows MR HMDs used LCD panels, and its slightly higher angular resolution (debatable, assuming the OLED panels are RGBG diamond pentile). The FoV is close enough to the others be a difference in measurement (e.g. horizontal vs vertical vs. diagonal vs. pupil-peaking/non-pupil-peeking etc, all will change the measured value). The panels themselves are interesting, and could indicate a 'mid-life refresh' for the Rift or Vive as both use Samsung as a panel supplier. Possibly more likely if the Windows MR platform fails to take off and Samsung want to recoup investment in rolling out an updated OLED fab line for these panels and drop their wholesale price (or decide to discontinue the current panels)

      • Voldenuit
      • 2 years ago

      [quote<]assuming the OLED panels are RGBG diamond pentile[/quote<] [s<]If it's AMOLED, it's most likely RGBB[/s<], the reason being blue LEDs have a shorter life at maximum luminosity than red and green, so doubling the blue LED count allows the entire panel to last longer as each blue led can be run at half output. EDIT: Pseudonymous is correct, the Samsung AMOLEDs are RGBG. They compensate for blue LED luminance isssues by making the blue LEDs larger, not more numerous.

        • psuedonymous
        • 2 years ago

        All Samsung’s AMOLED panels are RGBG (they reserve SAMOLED for RGB-stripe).

        The reason is not longevity, but emissivity: Red and Blue require twice the active emitting area per subpixel to produce the same light output as the Green subpixels.

    • dpaus
    • 2 years ago

    If they’d done it in white, it would have made a decent stormtrooper costume for Halloween….

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