Asus HC102 Windows Mixed Reality headset ups the ante

The second-generation of modern VR hardware is upon us, but perhaps not in the form you were expecting. Windows Mixed Reality headsets are compatible with most of the same content as HTC's Vive, but the newer WMR units are sporting slightly spiffed specs compared to the older set. One such headset is the just-released Asus Windows Mixed Reality Headset HC102.

The HC102 uses a single 2880x1440 display that refreshes at up to 90 Hz. Asus is mum about what type of panel tech it uses, but does say that it sits behind a fresnel-aspherical lens to provide a 105° field of view. Users will hook up the HC102 to PCs using HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0, while the two included motion controllers use Bluetooth. The HC102 doesn't include headphones, but there is a 3.5-mm jack so you can connect your own.

A pair of cameras on the outside of the headset work in concert with a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a magnetometer, and a proximity sensor to provide full 3D motion tracking. Thanks to all those sensors, the HC102 doesn't need external motion sensors like those required by the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. We're curious to see if the quality of the motion tracking is up to par with the precision of those devices, though.

Besides looking pretty cool, the exterior design of the HC102 is functional as well. The display itself is connected to the supporting headband by a hinge so that you can flip it up to immediately see the real world. That'll come in handy for when you're interrupted or just want to see if you're not about to kick the cat—all without removing your carefully-adjusted and positioned headband. The HC102 weighs just under a pound (under 400g) and Asus says its headband puts the weight on your forehead and crown so that you don't get "VR nose."

Like with other Windows Mixed Reality devices, you can play your SteamVR games on the Asus HC102. You also can apparently enjoy "over 20,000 Windows apps" on it. Asus says the HC102 is available right now from its own store for $429, which makes it the most expensive of the Windows Mixed Reality headsets. It's also more expensive than the Oculus Rift full kit with its controllers and two sensors. Hopefully the bump in display specifications justifies the extra $30.

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