If you’re not ready to shell out $3,000 for a Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality device, you’re not alone, and Microsoft knows this. That’s why it’s partnering with companies including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP and Lenovo to create a line of lower-cost augmented and virtual reality headsets for the Average Joe or Jane Gamer.
The head-mounted displays (HMDs), will start at $299, according to details revealed during yesterday’s keynote at the company’s WinHEC hardware event in Shenzhen, China. They’ll draw on the same Windows Holographic technology that powers HoloLens, but unlike the standalone HoloLens, they’ll need to be connected to a PC to operate.
System requirements for using the HMDs, which are set to start shipping in the first half of 2017, are as follows, according to Thurrott.com:
CPU: 6th or 7th generation Intel Core i5 mobile dual-core CPU with Hyperthreading or equivalent
GPU: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 (GT2) or equivalent or greater DirectX12-capable GPU
RAM: 8 GB+ Dual Channel required for integrated graphics
Video-out: HDMI 1.4 with 2880×1440 @ 60 HzHDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.3+ with 2880×1440 @ 90 Hz
HDD: 100GB+ SSD (Preferred)/HDD
USB: USB 3.0 Type-A or USB 3.1 Type-C Port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 for accessories
The upshot of this is, of course, that developers will enjoy a much broader market for apps and games. It’s the logical next step in the evolution of VR. “2017 is the year that mixed reality goes mainstream,” Microsoft executive vice president Terry Myerson said in the WinHEC speech. (You can view the whole keynote here.)
As CNET’s Stephen Shankland points out, the headsets will enter a market that already includes the Oculus Rift, Sony’s Playstation VR and HTC’s Vive, as well as lower-cost phone-based headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View.
Microsoft said it will make a developer’s kit for the new Windows Holographic HMDs available at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in February. Microsoft is gathering developer input in preparation for launching the kits via this survey.
On the HoloLens front, the company is submitting that product for regulatory approval in China, and hopes to make dev kits available for developers there sometime next year.