When Microsoft talked about their upcoming Mixed Reality platform late last year, they mentioned HP, Asus, Acer, Lenovo, and Dell as hardware partners. We saw a lot of those headsets last month at IFA, and while they all had their own style, they were all the same on the spec sheet — dual 1440 x 1440 displays and a 95-degree field of vision. Today, Samsung is shaking things up with the HMD Odyssey, a Mixed Reality headset that promises a little bit more.
Mixed Reality is what Microsoft is calling their virtual reality platform, which will be launched with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update later this month. It’s mostly virtual reality, anyway — Microsoft is roping in some technology developed in their HoloLens headset, giving these Mixed Reality headsets some augmented reality features, too. The crowning achievement is internal six-degrees-of-freedom tracking — unlike with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, these Mixed Reality headsets do not require external light towers to be set up elsewhere in the room.
All that’s true of the Samsung HMD Odyssey, but the Odyssey manages to outstrip the competition in what amounts to a show of force from Samsung. The headset has AMOLED displays, the vibrant type of display that Samsung uses on their Galaxy S and Note smartphones. They’ve also upped the field of vision to 110 degrees with two 1440 x 1600 resolution displays in front of the eyes (which can have 90 Hz or 60 Hz refresh rates, depending on the PC hardware powering the headset).
Samsung is also putting their acquisition of Harman to good use. Along with the Microsoft Touch Controllers, the HMD Odyssey comes with AKG (one of many Harman brands) headphones attached to the headset itself, which should make getting into and out of Mixed Reality a little less cumbersome.
The Samsung HMD Odyssey should be available for preorder sometime today for $500 and will ship on November 6. What we don’t yet know is whether or not that $500 price tag includes the touch controllers — if it does, then the Samsung HMD Odyssey looks like a pretty good deal at just $50 more than most of the other Mixed Reality headsets. Considering that Windows Mixed Reality could end up being competitive with the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift when paired with a powerful PC, that could make the HMD Odyssey one of the best VR buys out there. Time will tell!