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I finally got to try HoloLens and it blew my mind

HoloLens

No, I didn't lose my mind and part with approaching £3,000 to buy one, but Microsoft was kind enough to let the public try one out at the Insomnia Gaming Festival. One being the word, because that's all there was, and it was fully booked for three days.

I'm familiar with VR, but HoloLens is something completely new and an experience that's hard to properly imagine until you've tried it. To say it's better than I ever imagined would be under selling it.

The first thing that's a big difference compared to any other head mounted display you may have tried is the lack of wires. This makes a big difference to overall comfort, especially when standing as I was because you don't have to worry about tripping over things. The HoloLens headset itself isn't exactly heavy, but it does feel quite firm when you put it on for the first time.

I'm used to the cushioning you get around your face on VR headsets, the HoloLens doesn't have this. I wouldn't call it uncomfortable, but it's a different type of comfort. I only had a short trial with it, but I'd reserve any final judgement here as the real test is how it feels after an extended period of time.

It sits on the head quite nicely, too, and adjusts a little like my own PlayStation VR with a simple wheel to tighten it up. After all, you don't want your 3 grand sliding towards the floor.

What I've heard the most complaints about regarding HoloLens prior to my own use is the field of view. I understand the criticisms, but I also think they're a little misguided and exaggerated. Yes, it's limited, but it's also not VR. HoloLens isn't creating an entire world in front of you, it's augmenting the one you exist in. Hence "augmented reality." At times you need to move your head around to locate what you should be looking at, but the focus is always in front of your eyes. Which is where it should be.

And honestly, in VR you're never looking at what's at the side of you or behind you. Except when you move and it's in front of you. Exactly the same here. Except you're not always seeing pixels in your peripheral vision.

What you do see that is digital looks a lot sharper than I'd expected. Being at a gaming event, I naturally tried a game (some kind of alien-robot-shooter-thing) and it looked great. Bright colors, sharp graphics and terrific sound. The spatial audio seemed on point with any VR I've tried in recent times, something that's just as important as the graphics for the immersive experience.

Perhaps what I'm most impressed by is the way HoloLens projects images onto the surroundings. The black walls in the photos were bare for a reason; those were the surfaces upon which the alien beasts burst through. And I could blow the wall itself to pieces, too, revealing pipes and such behind. The accuracy was perfect. It really did look as though terrifying things were approaching from the walls.

HoloLens

And while I don't particularly suffer from motion sickness, stints in VR do make my eyes feel a bit sore. I may have only tried HoloLens for a short time, but I felt as fresh coming out of it as I did going in. The difference in experience and that you can see the real world I think makes a big difference and will make wearing HoloLens for long periods less of a drain on the eyes.

So, the verdict? I've been skeptical of how good HoloLens could really be, but once you try it all that goes away. I only tested it from a gaming perspective, but even here there's lots of potential beyond just playing Minecraft on your coffee table.

This technology is incredibly exciting. I can't wait to see it at a more consumer friendly price point. Because you're going to want to try it.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

33 Comments
  • When is this going to be available to general public? I'm guessing this wont come out at a cheap prize.
  • Hi ripcoral HoloLens, per Nadella, isn't due to consumers until about 2020. Manufacturing partners can and may build similar headsets(which is Microsoft's plan) earlier and at more accessible price points.
  • $3k ain't that much. People readily blow that kind of cash on Macs and then use it for email.
  • How true. If it were from Apple, no one would be complaining about the price being expensive.  Everyone just expects Apple stuff to be overpriced but they pay it.
  • wait a second... what kind of people throw cash on Macs? For WHO is 3K "not that much"?? Because for low or middle income people (more then half of any country in the world) 3K is too much. But anyways.. the price will drop fast as the technology advances
  • Apple does one thing good: Make people think it is worth it.
  • That is why when my friends upgrade their Macs, it is like they had a new baby.  It is so expensive they upgrade them like once every ten years or until it becomes so slow it is unusable. They are so ecstatic. That is why I like PC's.  I can buy a refurblished Dell every four years for a pretty resonable price.
  • Hehe, yeah. It is as close to religious as you get. :)
  • Actually the mac users that I know, upgrade more often. They try to justify it by saying, "I can get most of my money back because the resale value is good". Which doesn't make sense because you're still losing money out of the deal.
  • You'd be surprised... its the reason credit cards exist maybe? O.o
  • It's expensive for a consumer price point, Hololens is the next inflection point, going from PC's to phones and then MR/AR glasses. Microsoft cant afford to miss this window of opportunity as the other big tech titans are working towards this too. So sure 3k is nothing for businesses or people who buy Mac's but the number of actual Mac owners is still quite small globally, AR/MR glasses could be as popular as phones or PC's but the price has to come down for that to happen.
  • I'm hoping HoloLens is much better than VR is. I haven't tried HoloLens, but I tried bout the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift and was really disappointed with both of them. The technology for VR isn't up to snuff yet. Not even close. Hoping that AR is more promising.
  • I'd like to hear from someone who's tried it recommend to me on whether it's worth buying the first generation (after the price becomes something more reasonable), or wait for a second generation to solve some of the FOV issues.
  • It's a developer kit right now. Unless you're a developer, probably don't buy one.
  • I know.
  • If you know then you should realise that this isn't even first generation yet.
  • Sigh. Nitpick nitpick. How about, should a person wait for the product to have better fov or is this fine. There. Happy?
  • We have to wait and see what an actual product will be before making any decisions.
  • As Richard said, it's a Developer Kit and it's pretty inevitable that better versions will come along and hopefully the price will go down along with it. That said, I got a chance to try the HoloLens back in October when they were holding demos at the MS store here in Orlando and I can tell you that a lot of the complaints about the FOV are internet nitpicking at its finest. Hopefully MS will set up more demos so you can see for yourself what HoloLens is worth
  • Thank you. That's what I was looking for.
  • I haven't even tried a regular VR headset yet. Waiting for the big moment.
  • Got to try out a Hololens at a birthday party this past summer. Was talking to one of the other guests and he said he had one and ran home to get it for me to try out. I was only able to use it for about 10 minutes because my wife was angry that I wasn't eating cake with everyone else, but the time I did spend with Hololens was amazing.
  • Couldn't you have eaten the cake while using the HoloLens? Talk about a great conversation starter at parties!!
  • At WinHEC they showed a "tethered" version of Hololense on a chart. This could be the version that most consumers opt for. Being tethered to a PC really limits it's use but if priced right would be an exciting accessory.
  • This^
    I thinks that we will see tethered third party devices coming sooner rather than later at very affordable prices.
  • A stripped down version of this can be one type of the continuum device for the Surface Phone. Imagine the video phone calls, music, gaming on it while connected to the mobile Surface? Can also use it as a larger display device when the Surface Mobile is connected to keyboard and mouse to run x86 or productivity apps.
  • I love this idea. 
  • When this go public, what show do you like? It might be VR Rated R and XXX.... How will Microsoft restrict that?
  • I'm guessing Microsoft could not/will not restrict it. Porn is a HUGE business!!!
  • Microsoft cannot restrict the internet!
  • They don't have have to restrict anything and tbh I don't see this being used for that purpose until the holograms get much better.
  • I was thoroughly underwhelmed by HoloLens. The user experience needs a lot of work. I found interacting with the content in front of me clumsy and the responses inconsistent.
  • Interesting. Everyone else has been raving about it for months but you were underwhelmed.
    Google fanboy? Anti MS troll?
    Or just full of *****?