When HTC and Oculus debuted the first consumer VR products two years ago, their sky-high prices ($600 and $800 at debut) kept them out of reach for all but a handful of gamers. Today, Oculus is down to $400 while the Rift is $600 — significantly lower than before, particularly for Oculus, which now includes Touch controllers — but still fairly expensive for most customers. Now, if you want to try out VR or mixed reality, Microsoft’s Mixed Reality headsets are a strong alternative. Thanks to recent price cuts, they’re now available at much lower prices.
The Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset, Dell Visor, HP Mixed Reality Headset, and Lenovo Explorer Bundle are now around $250, ranging from $218 for the Acer model to $246 for the Dell. All of these prices are well down from the $400 to $450 that we saw when these models of headset debuted just a short while ago. The HP version is confirmed as the latest model (VR1000-100) and each appear to use a 1440×1440 lens per eye (2880×1440 across both eyes). There is a difference in the field of view: The Acer and HP models have a 95-degree FOV, the Dell Visor is 110 degrees, and the Lenovo Explorer is 105 degrees. If you care about a wide FOV, the Dell or Lenovo models should suit you better than the narrower HP and Acer versions. Apart from that, the platforms appear largely identical.
In short, if you’ve been waiting to dip a toe into the Windows Mixed Reality waters, it’s rarely going to be more enticing than this. As for why we’re seeing such deep price cuts after a relatively recent launch, you wouldn’t be crazy for thinking retailers are trying to spark fresh demand either after the holiday season or to goose product sales towards something they prefer. When Steam opened to PUBG in China it skewed all our previous data sets, such that we effectively have no idea what VR adoption rates actually are.
New Windows 10 Low-Cost Laptops Debut
Microsoft is also talking up the launch of new laptops from Lenovo: the Lenovo 100e at $189, and the Lenovo 300e, which supposedly starts at $279. (We’ll clear up that “supposedly” in a moment.) There are also two laptops from JP, with Windows Hello support at $199 and a pen + touch device for $299. Microsoft has partnered with companies like Lego, as well as organizations like the BBC, NASA, PBS, and Pearson to bring new software to the platforms, as well as a “World of Chemistry” mod for Minecraft to add craftable items like glowsticks, underwater torches, and rapid-grow fertilizer. Students will also be able to build compounds and stable isotopes in the free upgrade for Minecraft Education Edition coming later this spring.
The 100e is an 11.6-inch clamshell with the gorgeous design aesthetic and subtle hints you remember from your bottom-end Lenovo netbook circa 2008, only updated, reimagined, enhanced… actually, let’s just stick with that 2008 reference. This is the bottom-end netbook chassis you loved (or “loved”) with a much faster CPU and GPU and pretty much no storage whatsoever (32GB or 64GB of eMMC is all you get). At $189, at least it’s cheap.
The 300e is supposed to be a 2-in-1, but when you search for it on Google, you get a laptop advertised as a Chromebook and for sale in the United Arab Emirates, followed by a very, very different laptop also advertised as the 300e and sold in the UAE, but not as a Chromebook.
Despite being clearly based on the same chassis and labeled nearly identically in the image above, don’t confuse the two. The first Google link points to an 11.6-inch device with a 720p display based on the MediaTek MTK 8173C SoC. That’s a quad-core SoC with two Cortex-A72 CPUs and two Cortex-A53 CPUs in big.Little with a PowerVR GX6250 GPU core in a two-cluster configuration. The second link points to a CPU helpfully identified as an Intel Pentium (but nothing else) Pen support, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of storage via an actual SSD. The Chromebook is limited to a 32GB eMMC partition.
Despite Microsoft’s big push behind Windows 10 S, and multiple claims that both the 100e and 300e systems will run it, both laptops are both systems are listed as shipping with Windows 10 Pro. Then again, that’s the UAE, so your guess is as good as mine for the US. Presumably if they do go on sale as Windows 10 S systems here, they’ll still have the option to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for a nominal fee through the end of 2018.