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Windows Mixed Reality Headsets blend real and virtual worlds

Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo will have VR headsets for the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Here's what they look like.

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Joshua Goldman
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1 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Democratizing the VR experience

Made by Microsoft's PC maker partners -- Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo -- designs for the new Windows mixed-reality headsets were shown at the end of August at IFA Berlin, one of the world's biggest consumer technology trade shows. Prices start at $299 (roughly £250 or AU$400 converted) for the headsets, but expect to pay an additional $100 to get them bundled with motion controllers. That's not exactly cheap and still isn't impulse-buy territory for many, but it is less than bundles for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

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Asus WIndows Mixed Reality Headset

Asus said its designers used technology normally used to create digital architecture to make the pattern of hundreds of 3D polygons.

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Asus Windows Mixed Reality Headset

It's lightweight at about 14.1 ounces (400g) and balanced to take pressure off the nose and cheeks. 

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4 of 18 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Asus Windows Mixed Reality Headset

No US pricing or availability was announced, but the European price is 449 euros, which converts to $535, £415 and AU$675. That's pricey, but includes motion controllers.

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Acer Mixed Reality Headset

Acer was one of the first to show its entry in the category and is one of two headsets currently available as a developers edition.  

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Acer Mixed Reality Headset

All of the headsets including Acer's use a front-hinged display for quickly lifting the viewer up and out of the way.

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Acer Mixed Reality Headset

Though it's priced at $299 (equivalent to £250 or AU$400), that doesn't include the motion controllers, which you'll be able to get with the headset for $399

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Dell Visor

Dell designed the headset so that it's comfortable and easy to adjust for different users. A thumbwheel on back lets you quickly adjust the well-cushioned headband, and the balance and extra padding on the face take pressure off your nose and cheeks.

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Dell Visor

Its antistain coating helps keep the headset from getting gross after your friends and family use it.

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10 of 18 Sarah Tew/CNET

Dell Visor

When it's available in October, it will be priced at $349 (roughly £270 or AU$440 converted) for the headset alone or bundled with controllers for $449, which is about £350 or AU$565.

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HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Like Acer's, HP's headset is currently available in a developer edition from Microsoft, but for $30 more at $329, which converts to about AU$415 and £255.

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HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset

The "1440" imprint on the headset is a reference to the two high-resolution 1,440x1,440-pixel LCDs with up to 90Hz native refresh rate used in all of the WMR headsets. 

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HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset

HP said the additional cost goes toward extra design touches like a knob on the head strap for quick fit adjustments (the Acer has a sliding buckle). It also has more head strap padding and, HP claims, a bigger cutout for your nose. 

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Lenovo Explorer

Lenovo's entry into the headset market is perhaps the most boardroom-ready in appearance. The Explorer follows the same design and feature sets as the others.

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Lenovo Explorer

All of the headsets use a pair of cameras and a set of built-in sensors to map your physical position. Called inside-out tracking, the design allows for six-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) movement tracking without the need to buy external sensors and set them up in a dedicated space.

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Motion controllers

Each motion controller has 32 LED lights to map your environment. 

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Hook it up

The headsets all use a single cable with HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0 for video and data to simplify setup. 

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Look for all of them in mid-October

The Explorer and the other headsets are expected to arrive around October 17 with the release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. The Lenovo Explorer will cost $349 alone or $449 with a set of motion controllers. Those convert to £270/£350 and AU$445/AU$570.

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