BERLIN — Despite launching to much fanfare last year, Windows mixed reality headsets really haven't taken the world by storm. And Acer senior product manager Eric Ackerson has an idea why.
"They were all the same," he told me at this week's IFA trade show here in Berlin.
There's certainly something to that argument. The first versions of the headsets, despite the moniker, didn't blend augmented and virtual reality. It did, however, allow users to access VR using lower-specced laptops. But they really didn't make the case for why you'd want to strap on a headset and dive into the virtual world.
Acer thinks it can address those issues with its next mixed-reality headset announced here at IFA. The $399 Acer Ojo 500 differentiates itself by offering the first detached design for Windows headsets, allowing you to easily separate the lens and the head strap. Still, no mixed reality though.
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That feature may be of limited appeal to a home user who's the only one to put on the headset. But in other settings, such as classrooms, museums and other public venues where multiple people might wear the Ojo 500, the ability to remove a head strap after someone's done using the headset makes for a more hygienic experience. And the fact that this is the Ojo 500's marquee feature tells you a lot about who Acer is targeting with its second-generation stab at a Windows headset.
Another sign that Acer sees the Ojo 500 as the headset for both education and what Ackerson called "curated experiences" — again, think exhibits and tourist attractions — is a built-in IPD wheel. The wheel works with an app to measure interpupillary distance, or IPD, to help customize the clarity and image sharpness for every wearer who uses the Ojo 500.
The new headset features a sound pipe design to direct audio from its built-in speakers to your ears. That approach means you'll be able to wear the Ojo 500 without any headphones — a key differentiator from Samsung's HMD Odyssey headset — so you won't be totally cut off from any relevant ambient noise, like a teacher or a tour guide.
The Ojo 500 features a 100-degree field of view with a resolution of 2880 x 1440. The headset offers a 90Hz refresh rate. As with Acer's previous headset, the AH101, this new version comes with a pair of handheld controllers.
Look for the Ojo 500 to ship in November.