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Acer's $399 Mixed Reality bundle is a really big deal

Microsoft's Build 2017 keynote speech on Thursday brought virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality fans a pretty big surprise: Windows Mixed Reality is getting some cool new motion controllers to go along with the headsets.

Also announced was a $399 bundle containing the Acer mixed reality headset and the new controllers. A that's a pretty big deal. Let's have a look at exactly why this price is meaningful compared to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers

It's clear from the examples set by the Rift and Vive that motion controllers are required for a full VR experience, and Microsoft took note. The Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers follow a lot of the same rules that their new headsets do, namely the fact that you won't need extra sensors set up around your playspace to use them. Instead, they employ sensors on the front of the headset.

They still function mostly the same way as the Rift's Touch controllers and Vive's wands, and you still get six degrees of freedom (6DOF) control. No longer will an Xbox gamepad be required to navigate a virtual world.

For more information on the new Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers, check out VRHeads Managing Editor Russell Holly's analysis.

Here's how the new Windows Mixed Reality controllers work

Comparing the $399 Acer bundle to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive

There are a couple of aspects to look at when comparing these three systems; the bundle itself, containing the headset, controllers, and whatever else is required, and the PC needed to run it.

First, let's look at how the prices compare, and what is included in each bundle.

SystemPriceWhat's included?
Acer Windows Mixed Reality bundle$399Headset, motion controllers
Oculus Rift$598 (opens in new tab)Headset, Touch controllers, Xbox gamepad, two sensors
HTC Vive$800 (opens in new tab)Headset, motion controllers, sensors

The Acer Windows Mixed Reality bundle is $200 cheaper than the Oculus Rift, without figuring in the cost of a third Rift sensor (about $60) (opens in new tab) that's required for room-scale, and it is a whopping $400 cheaper than the HTC Vive. This already opens up mixed reality to a whole new fanbase.

Windows Mixed Reality minimum specifications

Next, we need to look at the minimum required specifications for Windows Mixed Reality.

  • CPU: Intel Mobile Core i5 (e.g. 7200U) dual-core with hyperthreading equivalent.
  • GPU: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 (GT2) equivalent or greater DX12 API capable GPU.
  • RAM: 8GB+ dual channel required for integrated graphics.
  • HDMI: HDMI 1.4 with 2880x1440 at 60Hz. HDMI 2.0 or DP 1.3+ with 2880x1440 at 90Hz.
  • Hard disk drive (HDD): 100GB+, solid state drive (SSD) [preferred] / HDD
  • USB: USB 3.0 Type-A or USB 3.1 Type-C Port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 for accessories

These specs all come in below what the Vive and Rift require, opening up a whole new tier of PC to mixed reality. Ultrabooks with the hardware needed to run Windows Mixed Reality can be had for well under $1,000, and custom-built PCs would cost even less.

Realistically, you could be looking at spending somewhere around the $1,000 mark (or less) if you're buying the Acer bundle and a PC to run it. That might still seem like a lot but not when you compare to Rift and Vive. Also, many people might already have a PC that can run Windows Mixed Reality, further lowering the cost.

Oculus Touch controller.

The Oculus Touch bundle itself costs $600 (opens in new tab), and a laptop or PC to run it will realistically cost somewhere around $600 to $800. Toss in the third sensor for room-scale Rift-ing, and you could be looking at a final price somewhere around $1,300 to $1,500.

The HTC Vive, starting at $800 (opens in new tab) for the basic bundle, requires an even beefier PC than the Rift, pushing the total price to between $1,500 and $1800, and that's if you don't want the Vive Tracker (about $100) and Deluxe audio strap (also about $100).

Will Windows Mixed Reality be worth it?

It's still unclear just how well the motion controllers with the Acer headset will work, and there are some concerns about how they'll track when they are not in view of the headset. Regardless, Acer's $399 bundle that includes a headset and motion controllers is a big deal for one of our favorite hobbies, and we expect to see a lot of newcomers attracted by this more accessible price. As far as a release date, developers can preorder the bundle now and shipments should start this summer.

Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

38 Comments
  • Is there actually a link to purchase? Can't find these anywhere. Thanks.
  • You can't find it because it hasn't been released yet
  • Dev kits have and can be ordered from here: https://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/Acer-Windows-Mixed-...
  • Interesting, so they appear to be targeting the Surface Laptop specs that were announced last week.
  • So can I run steam vr games with these headsets? Or does that run on a different framework so the two arnt compatible? Cause if its $400 to run my steam games in vr thats a bargin!
  • Asking the real question here. I'm still a little bit confused to about the use for the headset, whether it's strictly for mixed reality or if it's compatible with current VR gaming technology.
  • It's unlikely to be that way out of the box. It's most likely up to Steam to support Windows 10 apps using the native MR toolkit, or up to OpenVR to support the new hardware. The new type of tracking these use works best with apps specifically written for "world-scale" experiences, and not with straight-up ports of apps written expecting a Rift or Vive style "fixed world base with beacons" type of tracking. For some technical details, check out
    https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/mixed-reality/coordinate_s... And note that Rift and Vive can only support the "Stationary Frame of Reference" and "Stage Frame of Reference" modes described there, which don't work as well with the new type of tracking.  
  • Not at $400, it's not worth it. Maybe at $100.
  • Seriously? A hundred bucks for this level of technology? Either you are the cheapest person in the universe or a troll looking for attention. (If the latter, congrats you got me to give it, with possibly one of the stupidest posts I have read on this site.)
  • There's always Google Cardboard.
  • Regardless of your perceived value of it, in relation to what's out there now it's a good price
  • It is always curious to see how perceived value has an effect on purchase decisions.  Or sales, for that matter.  Devices such as this, today, are a good value at 400$, as many have said, particularly in relation to what is out there.  We will need to see full on reviews on capabilities and actual differences. "Maybe at 100$" suggests that you don't value the prospect of mixed reality at-all either as an early adopter or delayed purchase.  Thankfully, you are not their target customer or we'd never see anything come to market.
  • The best news is that these headsets will work with Project Scorpio.  Can't wait until E3 to see what's coming.
  • I hope it will also be for Xbox One, but really excited to see that... Now i'm even more curious about what they will show on May 23 at Shangai, Mobile Device? It's not so delirious, i know Windows Phone is dead, but no word about it since now, and Nadella saying they still working on a Mobile Device is pretty strange...  
  • Damn, looks like the specs are just outside of my SP4's range.... Not sure about the GPU but I defo don't have enough RAM. Say I had 8GB+ RAM, could this then work on a Surface Pro 4 ?
  • I have the SP4 i7 with 8GB. It certainly has the processor and the RAM. As for the graphics, the i7 has Intel Iris 540, which supposedly performs as well as or better than the Intel HD 620. The only questionable part for me would be the DisplayPort. I believe the SP4 was 1.2 whereas this would require 1.3. I don't know if 1.2 has enough bandwidth to push the display resolution of 2880x1440 at 90Hz.
  • The detailed specs on the headsets say that they can run at 60Hz if the machine does not have the right HDMI or DP versions for the full 90Hz bandwidth. 
  • Yeah, not quite sure how to read that. It says HDMI 1.4 with 2880x1440 at 60Hz. HDMI 2.0 or DP 1.3+ with 2880x1440 at 90Hz. It's like it lists the HDMI 1.4 60Hz spec separate from the HDMI 2.0/DP 1.3+ 90Hz spec. Given the SP4 doesn't have HDMI, could you use the DisplayPort to run at 60Hz? Again, I don't know enough about it at this point, I'd have to research DisplayPort technology a bit more since it's not something I'm overly familiar with.
  • Can they make a MR game where I get to play with a Surface Phone?
  • What's the res for the headset?
  • the acer set is 800p. The hp set is 1440p
  • Not correct. They are both 1440 x 1440 per eye.
  • EDIT: Never mind. I saw them on the MS site. Two high-resolution liquid crystal displays at 1440 x 1440 This is part of where the savings are coming from.
  • How so?
  • Where are the exclusive mind blowing games that make them worth it? Just like Zelda made switch worth it.
  • E3
  • I still cannot figure out why this is called mixed reality and not virtual reality.
  • Because unlike the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, this has front facing cameras (but I'm guessing they're more likely capture a 270º view) than can be used to "see" through the device.
    Because it can *mix* the image from the cameras with generated content, Microsoft calls it, appropriately, "Mixed Reality". This differs from the Hololens, which has semi-transparent lenses that let you see through them but also let you see content projected onto them. The Hololens adds things to what you see, thus the name "Augmented Reality".
  • 270deg seems a bit excessive. A humans FOV, including their peripheral is only about 190. The two cameras on the front do appear to be pointing to the sides slightly, but I doubt they will be able to capture a 270deg FOV. I would hope the device FOV would be greater than 100-110 as most VR devices to give you more of that natural wrap around field, but with two screens at 1440x1440, I doubt it.
  • Both devices (HP and Acer) horizontal FOV is given as 95 degrees per eye.
  • Incorrect. There is no indication that they will do video see-through, for reasons outlined below. Microsoft has consistenly referred to these as purely VR headsets whereas the entire SDK is "mixed reality"
  • Here's the Microsoft page describing the term Mixed Reality. Note that the Acer et all are considered "immersive headsets" and are explicitly NOT shown to extend to the "AR" end of the spectrum. https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/mixed-reality/mixed_reality
  • Just to add to Carlos' excellent explanation; These headsets can do both. VR = Completely immersive environment. AR = Elements projected in to (or on top of) the real world.
  • No.
  • The SDK that powers these also powers Hololens, so the tech as a whole is "Mixed Reality" whereas these headsets are purely VR based. THat's straight from Microsoft's presentation at GDC.  Also, beware of what is said above in other replies. MS has given NO indication that the front facing cameras can pipe video into the HMD screens to simulate "video see-through" AR. It's pure speculation on the part of the posters, and is likely to not happen because the resulting video will have a certain amount of system lag (the video will have to be processed by the CPU in order to match the optics at the other end, so it can't just go through the headset unaltered) increasing the risk of motion sickness, and it will also be of rlatively low fidelity due to the screen resolution. As someone who has worked with VR headsets for more than 15 years, I don't expect that using the tracking cameras for video see-through will result in an acceptable experience.
  • My only worry here is that it's built by Acer; not exactly a name that screams 'quality control'.
  • There is one by HP that is also able to be pre-ordered for $30 more (it has a detachable cable and more cushion on the headband, otherwise it appears to be the same specs) and ones from Lenovo and Dell have been shown but not yet up for pre-order.
  • At $400 I think it's a bargain seeing as how they can both work with the new models of laptops, PCs, and as someone mentioned the upcoming Project Scorpio. Definitely something worth looking into if you're into the latest tech, at reasonable prices. I'm excited to see the capabilities of the device and what developers can create with them. Also who else is digging that blue color scheme? Is it only me? Ah ok lol.