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 2880×1440 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.

Comments closed
    • Kurlon
    • 2 years ago

    I don’t see how these are ‘mixed reality’ when all you see is computer generated content? It’s not like the MS Hololens that actually overlaid CG content on top of reality so… what’s ‘mixed’ about it?

      • Laykun
      • 2 years ago

      It uses the Windows Mixed Reality platform which also works with things like Holo-lens, which is a mixed reality device. “Windows Mixed Reality” is more of a brand than a description.

      • tay
      • 2 years ago

      It’s Microsoft’s idiotic marketing term because they dropped the ball on VR for xxXboxOneXxx. So they’re trying to show how their Windows VR platform is better when it’s not.

    • Voldenuit
    • 2 years ago

    My Samsung Odyssey HMD has 2880×1600 resolution, and it’s incredibly grainy because of the subpixel layout of its pentile OLED. Hopefully Asus avoids this pitfall. A lower resolution with 3 real subpixels beats out a high res that only has 2-2.5 subpixels per dot.

      • Chrispy_
      • 2 years ago

      Grainy is just part of the deal with current tech. 2880×1600 sounds high-resolution, but it’s different to sitting in front of a 2560x1440p screen, because that screen only occupies a tiny fraction of your field of vision.

      If you had a virtual 27″ 1440p screen on a virtual desk in front of you, and sat 3 virtual feet away from it, the number of pixels used by the Odyssey to draw the virtual display might be only 350×200 pixels per eye. That’s why it looks grainy – because a 27″ display that actually only had 350×200 resolution would look like jumbotron pixel density at three feet.

        • Laykun
        • 2 years ago

        The problem isn’t so much resolution and pixel density, it’s far more to do with pixel “fill”, i.e. the amount of space sub pixels occupy/illuminate vs. the dead space around them for circuitry and structure. You could have a 4k display and make it looks worse than a 2k display simply by making the sub-pixels smaller than they need to be.

          • Hsldn
          • 2 years ago

          Both actually. Having full RGB screens reduce the Screen Door Effect but they are not a solution to low resolution. We need at least 4k per eye.

        • Voldenuit
        • 2 years ago

        It’s also a failing with pentile OLED displays, they don’t use separate subpixels for every pixel, so the quoted “resolution” is based on perceivable line-pairs (similar to a MTF chart), and I am convinced that manufacturers cherry-pick ‘best case’ scenarios instead of ‘real-world’ ones. Like those ‘4K’ LG TVs that only have half-resolution when displaying color detail due to RGBW subpixels.

        I don’t have a Dell, acer or lenovo HMD at hand to compare, but I’d wager they have better real-world resolution at their LCDs’ 2880×1440 vs the Samsung’s OLED 2880×1600.

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