Hands On and Unboxing: Acer Head Mounted Display for the Windows 10 Mixed Reality Portal

After announcing their 3D For Everyone approach for Windows 10 in October 2016 there has not been much action on that front beyond the release of Paint 3D and the new Remix 3D Community site.

We also learned at that same time that Microsoft was going to partner with several OEMs to build and release Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) for use with the Windows Mixed Reality Portal on Windows 10 devices running the Creators Update. Most of the devices would be in teh sub $300 price range and run on pretty standard hardware eliminating the need for a high end system to experience the Mixed Reality Portal.

Then, back in December 2016, Microsoft's OEM team announced more details about these upcoming HMDs and we were shown images of many of the devices.

Since then we have seen them at CES 2017, Build 2017, and COMPUTEX but they have not been widely available despite the release of the Creators Update which had the software ready to support them in the Windows 10 Mixed Reality Portal.

Initial availability for the Acer and HP HMDs was announced at Build 2017 in the form of a pre-order process for the developer edition of the headsets with shipping expected in August. On 01 August the Microsoft Store opened up teh two products for purchase and quickly sold ouf of the HP device followed by Acer's offering.

For those of us who pre-ordered back in May, there was a combination of issues ranging from shipping labels being created but no movement of the device into the actual shipping channels. For some who purchased the Acer unit, cards were charged and it still took over a week for them to finally get shipped. During that waiting period I was told at least once that the devices had been sold out and would not ship until the end of August.

Turns out that was apparently incorrect or did not apply to pre-orders because I received a shipping notice for an overnight delivery that put the Acer HMD on my doorstep this past Tuesday. You can see the unboxing images in the gallery.

I did set-up the device on my main desktop running the Windows 10 Creators Update, got the hardware all plugged in and that prompted the Windows 10 Mixed Reality Portal to open up however, the screen never advanced beyond the splashed app logo. After a restart of the machine I was able to open up the Mixed Reality Portal and get the device set-up.

Since I do not have a large enough space to really maximize my movements, although I was able to map it during set-up and subsequently see the boundaries inside the portal, I opted to remain in one spot while using the headset. You can use your mouse to move around and teleport to various locations inside the environment but I found using an Xbox controller was much easier.

Using 2D Twitter in the 3D environment of the Windows Mixed Reality Portal

Unfortunately, I did experience some nausea after using the headset for a bit so I am going to try a recommendation I read to chew gum at the same time as a type of distraction for my brain. Based on my research, nausea when using a VR headset is typically caused by refresh rates not keeping up with your head movements plus your eyes sensing movement and your vestibular system (inner ear) sensing you are not in motion. This is really magnified when you are sitting still using the VR headset.

I will share more about the experience but up front I can say it seems you can do a lot of 2D activities such as browse the web, read email, and play games in this 3D environment. However, until more devs have the opportunity to build true 3D apps for them, this sure does seem like it will be a limited experience.

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But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

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