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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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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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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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