HP's headset is an affordable, unremarkable way into Mixed Reality

It's cheap, and that's fine by us
Eyes on: HP's Mixed Reality headset

If Samsung's Odyssey sits at one end of the Windows Mixed Reality spectrum, HP's is parked down the other. That sounds like a criticism, but it's important to note that all the headsets in Microsoft's MR gang will run the same high-end content and start with a minimum 1440 x 1440 resolution per eye, so HP is still giving you a better experience than you're getting on smartphones right now.

At $329 it's also a chunk cheaper than Samsung's visor, which does a better job of fulfilling Microsoft's vision of affordable yet powerful VR. It's probably most comparable to the Acer HMD, which, at $299, is the most affordable of the lot.

Read this: The best VR headsets 2017

Moving from the Samsung Odyssey straight to the HP headset gave me a better sense of the scale here. That reduced 95-degree field of view was noticeable on the HP, but above all it was the fit that had the most significant step-down.

While Samsung's headset slipped on easily and stayed snug throughout my demo, the HP demanded more effort to get it in place, and even then I found it kept budging slightly and throwing off the focus. Perhaps given more time it would be easier to make this work a little better, but the experience suffered for it.

When I was in focus, the resolution, while technically lower than Samsung's, didn't seem diminished by much. Perhaps Halo Recruit's dark environs didn't make for ideal test conditions, but I thought the experience was about on par, just with that slightly smaller FoV.

There also aren't the integrated headphones, so you'll need to stick on a pair of your own, nor the dial for adjusting interpupillary distance - something only available on Samsung's system.

It might sound like I'm comparing this to the Odyssey a lot, and I am, but these differentiators, even the small ones, are all the more important to know as Microsoft's list of partners continues to expand. These headsets can all run the same content, all function in largely the same way, so choosing between Acer and Asus, or Dell and HP, will come down to a lot of tiny details. This isn't like choosing between the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive; many of these difference will probably be negligible to some folks.

I walked away from my demo with the HP uninspired, but that's not to say I wasn't still impressed with what Microsoft is doing here. Like the other headsets, the HP is able to run high-end VR for $329, which is cheaper than the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, and doesn't require external sensors. It might lack flash, but HP's headset is helping to open that door for people who have been wanting to bring VR into their lives. That's definitely Ok by us.

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