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Unboxing the Microsoft HoloLens Development Edition: this thing is so cool!

The first standalone and wearable holographic computer starting shipping last week to a small cadre of developers and partners. Microsoft's HoloLens is now in the hands of a handful of users around the United States, and they are getting their first taste of making holograms for real.

I got my mitts on a full Development Edition HoloLens kit, so let's see what you get for plunking down $3,000 for the first holographic computer in our video unboxing.

Also, I finally got to take a horde of super high-quality photos revealing the work of wonder in exquisite detail.

The box and case

During Build 2016 last week, we got the first glimpse of the packaging for HoloLens Development Edition. The black box uses the familiar and iconic HoloLens wireframe with just Microsoft HoloLens in the upper corner.

As you would expect for a $3,000 device, the packaging is top notch and is more akin to the new Xbox One Elite Controller than Surface. In fact, the hard-shell storage case that the HoloLens comes in looks a lot like the Elite's storage case save for some small changes. The case lets you store HoloLens, charger (micro-USB cable plus wall adapter), longer nose-piece, optional head strap and starter guide. It is all a surprisingly small package, and it can easily fit in a backpack with room to spare.

Besides the HoloLens and in-box accessories, there is also the new HoloLens Clicker. This is the first time I have seen this optional accessory, and it is quite handy. The clicker features a finger loop that goes around the top of your middle finger, and this holds it in a neutral position between your index finger and thumb. The clicker pairs via Bluetooth to the HoloLens and replaces (or augments) the air-tap gesture and audio cue for selection of a hologram or menu item. Using your gaze (reticle pointer), you can highlight an item and just click, giving you a third way to navigate through the HoloLens system.

Setting up

HoloLens is quite accessible right out of the box. All you need is a local Wi-Fi network to connect to, and you can set it up within about 5 to 10 minutes.

The first steps include using the new tool that calibrates the HoloLens for your interpupillary distance (so that holograms look right). Microsoft's Cortana does all of the audio voice cues, which is a nice touch and Hey Cortana is built into HoloLens as well so that you can quickly make audio requests whenever you want. After calibration, HoloLens and Cortana then take you through a gestures tutorial where you learn about air-tap, bloom, and how to navigate HoloLens.

Make no mistake HoloLens is running full-on Windows 10. Whether it is logging you to your Microsoft account, choosing the Wi-Fi network or even using the Settings and Store it is all very familiar. You can even use Settings to check for OS updates for HoloLens like any laptop or PC.

Probably the most tedious part is typing in your Wi-Fi network password and Microsoft Account credentials. You use a holographic keyboard (the same one in Windows 10) along with gaze + air-tap. Luckily, you just do this one time.

I'll have more later today on my first 24 hours with HoloLens including some surprises and initial thoughts on using it at home. If you have any questions, leave them in comments, and I'll try to answer some in that article.

Stay tuned!

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

125 Comments
  • Wonder how much it will cost when they release it spring 2017 along the other hardware lineup. Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Lumia 950xl
  • Who said it was being released in spring 2017?
  • You can bookmark this and if it doesn't I'll fly down there so you can give me 1000 lashings.
  • What about instead a slap bet .!!,:P
  • You can't be THAT sure, or else you would say Roshambo, lol.  Not sure if that means anything to anyone beyond a South Park reference...
  • They will release in 2017 as well, just another version of it
  • Seriously? I don't think there will be a consumer edition until at least 2018, maybe holidays 2017 but I doubt it. Microsoft has said pretty clearly they intend to get this solidly into the enterprise uses before the consumers. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • I'm not sure if it will be a different version that tethers to their new xbox, but I know it will be announced. There may be 2 versions. I don't know the specifics to be honest. At least they are aiming for having a full hardware lineup that encompasses windows 10 with Redstone 2. It would likely cost as much as a computer, but not 3000 that's for sure.
  • And...you have a source for this or just some wild speculation so you can troll Microsoft next year when it doesn't happen. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • A source? Like a website? Let me throw one up and have every blog copy it. I don't troll. I don't plan on buying one. I'm more interested in the surface phones and how they will be built, but that information is extremely well guarded.
  • So its just wild speculation with nothing to back it up? Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • The speculation is around it being a tethered version which would make it more viable to mass produce. I don't know how they will do it but it will be announced. Availability and pricing and the target group is also unknown. But a premium product will have a premium price tag no doubt.
  • I feel like it is far from speculation that HoloLens has a future in the consumer market. I also feel it is virtually guaranteed to be available in different "packages", aimed at different markets. So you wont be getting downvoted by me. :) "Timing" might be speculative. But not your vision bro.  
  • That's usually how it happens. People make up a date, and somehow everyone else decides it's fact. 
  • I think they would be more likely to create a google cardboard competator then a full on holo lense for consumer next year.  They could call it Surface Vision or something, it would go well with thier suface phones coming out.  
  • That is about as like ly as them making a Surface phone in a timely fashion.
  • Actually a consumer edition isn't likely until around 2020. Nadella gave a five year time frame for that in an interview last year (2015). :-(
  • Thank you, at least some input from someone who has some valid basis for thier comments. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • @todd7900 @poopyfinger Here's the link on our Youtube channel to the 2015 interview with Satya Nadella where he references this being a 5 year journey to get HoloLens to the masses: https://youtu.be/nNo2wR_DPRc
  • A lot can change in tech. But the term "masses" is debatable. Price is the biggest factor. Manufacturing, etc. I believe what he said but that does not mean they will not announce a different version, or one aimed at business even. My view of "consumers" isn't necessarily the masses but businesses too. Currently only partner businesses and devs can get it. Consider the devkit which is already available to people. The numbers are limited and the pricing is insane for a product that has nothing available for it yet but it's there and functioning.
  • The biggest hurdle is the manufacturing process for mass production. Minimizing the complexity of the unit to bring a tethered version is much easier than the current one with a full built in CPU. The tethered version is pure speculation on how they plan to do it. But the lineup is supposed to include it. And as a premium lineup it may not be viable to most consumers. Google is working with Magic Leap to bring something as well. So they aren't building anything from scratch at least. MS does have the advantage in this area right now.
  • It would be funny, be the first in the market, and let everyone surpass them. Smartphone history all over again? Hopefully they move their ass :D
  • For who has the money, the dev kit is already available
  • He may have said that but I don't really think they would show it to people and get them all excited and then make them wait 5 years.
  • Upvote for Maybeline.  The Next Lumia could have the capability to run and stream apps to HoloLens.  Oh wait, the current 950XL does this :).  Continuum on Holo Lens. A 20% increase in viewing area and 30% reduction in price will make this a hot item. 
  • It's an interesting point since continuum can take advantage of dumb terminals. Strip the hololens to only include the lenses and a lower level processor that doesn't need to run full windows and manage resources and you can create something. Even if that's not what they do. It will still be in the announcement. And who it's aimed for doesn't matter. Because if you can buy it without partnering with Microsoft or being a dev, it becomes a consumer product. Most people associate it with regular users buying it and playing games and all that, I don't see that happening, unless of course they surprise us with something that tethers. I don't know the details, but the spring lineup will showcase their windows 10 devices including hololens.
  • Ha! You stole my idea, lol. I think the continuum idea has alot of merit. Skip a battery draining CPU in the headset and give it a bigger battery and I think the practicality aspect grows significantly. I can't help but think continuum has a future with the hololens.
  • You should patent it. :) I remember when I told people that the 950/950xl and the mid range phones will be the last of the lumia line and they refused to believe it. This was before they even released them.
  • Make that 2019 at least...anyway i'd like to know about the field of view, has it been increased? how would you describe it?
  • Whatever price will be nowhere near $3000 I'm sure. I'm guessing around $1200
  • What about the tear-down?
  • Yeah, no.
  • Hahahaha !! Reaction XD
  • As a dev kit does it come with any warranty?
  • There you go: http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/6/11376442/microsoft-hololens-holograms-p...
  • Thanks. Interesting to say the least. I am surprised MS did not include a a pair of earphones for a $3,000 device!
  • Why would you need earphones for something you wear on your head and has integrated speakers pointed directly at your ears?
  • I'm kinda surprised it's MicroUSB instead of USB 3.0, unless the size is more important than the speed/charge rate?
  • i guess its more thats what they started with as usb3.1 wasnt a thing then. no need to change for a dev version
  • I'm excited for you guys at Windows Central. I can't wait to see what else Hololens can do!
  • Yeah glad you guys invested, looking forward to some more insights
  • I wonder if a Bluetooth keyboard can be paired successfully
  • It can. I mention that in the video too.
  • Would love to see one of these in the flesh. Anywhere in the UK have one? Do we even have a MS store?
  • I don't believe there are any in the UK yet, at least not accessible. Even the Dev Edition is US-only for now.
  • There's at least one in the UK that I know of, but the person is working under a NDA so wouldn't tell me much more other than he's getting to work with one in London as part of his contract.
  • No, we don't have a store, and I hate that... :-(
  • yes, it's bsxit that we don't have a store, i keep meanderng into phone shops to try to decide on the 650 or 950 (why the big ugly ppiece of glass is stuck on the front i don't know!) and the staff dont even know if they have a 650 on the shelf..... and when i got my surface pro 4 i went to pcworld, nice guys but got the feeling maybe they didn't know everything they should and really there was an ulterior sales motive to what they did say..... MSoft stores in the big cities at least please... (bit off topic that, sorry)
  • Completely agree. Could do with a flagship store in somewhere like London at the very least
  • John Lewis is doing 3 year warranty on Surface devices now with no extra charge, I'd stay away from PC World they are "experts" not experts.
  • Can you use it while it charges? and if so is it comfortable?
  • You can and you won't notice it. Just don't' get up and walk around ;)
  • Looks awesome. Hope I get a chance to play with one someday, cos I doubt I'll be buying one anytime soon! The future is now, eh? Just out of curiosity, did you guys at WC get given this or did you have to fork out for it? If you paid.... Thanks very much, guys!
  • Oh, we paid for it (cries a little).
  • Ouch...
  • Daniel - You said you will do a unboxing about the new Dell Venue 2016 tablet. i dont see that. You mentioned you will explain why MS partnerd with Samsung on the Tab Pro S. I dont see that. Any updates?
  • Tab Pro S is coming real soon. Will have to see about that table. We're a bit short on staff/overwhelmed with content right now. Doing our best.
  • Hire me!
  • Please do so.. But I wish the review is done by you. and thanks for the reply.
  • You should try and get your Windows Central app to work on this thing!
  • That would be very cool!
  • "You should try and get your Windows Central app to work on this thing!"
    It already does! Will share more later.
  • Hell yeah
  • Of course it does!  One of the amazing things about the new development enviroment. Under-appreciated at this point. But Windows 10 is NOT just the OS that came on your new laptop you bought yesterday at Best Buy. It's so much more than is obvious at this moment.
  • in 3!!!!! D!!!!!
  • :o!!!
    You already adapted the UI/UX???
    Ok, there's some hard work behind scene.
  • You don't need to do anything special to make it work on hololens, if it's UWP it will work on HoloLens unless you've pretty much told Microsoft you don't want it to or you've done some really bad coding.
  • Do a strength test
  • Cool!
  • drop test! ace. this thing looks brilliant. wonder what the consumer version will be like when it comes out.  
  • Will you have giveaway of this?
    *justjoking*
  • Looking forward to develop to this beauty :D
    The tools in the new version of the VS are really neat!  
  • Time for Microsoft to make Apple and Google cry.... Google and Apple after like 3 years behind... Microsoft should spread their wings wide
  • Yes!!! GO MICROSOFT YOU DID YOU ARE DOING YOU WILL DO!!
  • Apple will copy it, most importantly change it to silver in colour, quadruple the price and have people cueing up for days to buy it :(
  • Dan, you didn't mention how much does it weigh?
  • Yeah, forgot to do that. Will grab the scale at the office and follow up on it.
  • How's the battery life on this thing? Also any side effects when using this thing for long periods?
  • Can't remember for sure but think they said it's around 3 hours.
  • Way to the future microsoft.Apple will sit and watch.
  • How do you even video chat through this (Skype video call)?
    Btw great work Daniel.
  • Seems faster
  • why did you stopped doing #AskDan videos?
  • Man, can't wait to go driving with this thing on!  :D
  • I will give ya 50 bucks for the BOX  
  • The old empty box at full retail on eBay trick eh?
  • Hololens is looking better and better.  I wish I had $3k burning a hole in my pocket!   Its interesting to watch people wearing and using the latest hololens at  roughly the same time that we're seeing people use the Occulus Rift and/or Hive.  (Which still give me the creeps).  I don't like the idea of being blindfolded to the real world and while the Hololens continues to look awkward, dorky (yet still somehow cool) there's something compelling about being able to look at the 3d graphics while not looking and being like some sort of blind, eyeless insectoid.   And mother of pearl the ratsnets of wires that come with the OcRift and Hive!   Some of the Hololens' harshest interim critics were disappointed so much by the limited field of vision.  But as performance and comfort continues to improve, that criticism seems to be lessening a bit.  Maybe there's a greater appreciation for the true protability. mobiility and the interactivity (with the surrounding real world) with the Hololens, which provides clearer context for why the field of view is smaller.    
  • Now all we need are Developers Developers Developers!
  • Whats with people who have eye diseases or half blind?
    Can you use HoloLens when you close one eye? Is the 3D effect disappearing or you only lose some spatial information?
    Will the holograms be on the same place? This information would be very important for me since im following the HoloLens news since beginning but nobody has answered this question as far as I know and it is quite importnt for me!
  • Of course you can use it with one eye. The holograms are simultaneously projected in front of both eyes, each one being at a slightly different angle to each other... That's what the inter-pupillar distance measurement is for, so that the holograms match up to your specific real-world view. If you close one eye (or are blind) you will still see the projection in front of the other, but your brain will lose a degree of the perceptive depth because it needs the information from both eyes on order to process this fully. It's the same scenario even without the hololens. Or for example; in a 3D cinema when you shut one eye. I haven't quite got my head around how hololens compensates for focal distance yet though, because obviously your eyes can't focus on something an inch in front of your face, and on the other side of the room at the same time...
  • Have you tested it? What happens if you have only one eye during the inter-pupillar meassurement?
    I know the physics behind it but I am interested how Microsoft implements it and if Hololense lets you use the device when you close one eye or only have one. Thanks for you answer!
  • seeing this video made me realise for the first time just how self contained it is...
  • Im glad business have taken interest in this, consumer usage and desire will leak from that.  Similar to Blackberrys, business had them, business used them and they were soo darn cool non business (consumer) wanted them.  Hope this goes that way.  My Linkedin Hololens group for developers is growing daily :)
  • I can't believe they did all of that in that form factor for 3K.  I'm sure they'll take a loss when it goes public.  Hell, they are probably taking a loss at 3K still.  I mean custom holographic processor.  I'm glad to see this stuff.  Let's see what fun stuff is made. :)
  • Can't pair it with a bluetooth keyboard?
  • He said in the video that you can.
  • FOV!!  There now I've said it. Carry on...
  • No Windows Hello? That seems like it would work perfectly here. Just add a small IR scanner on the inside.
  • Yeah, yeah, yeah... It is cool and all but will it blend?
  • I sense a contest coming on...    "Win Daniel Rubino's Holo Lens"  Lets make it happen.  My luck must improve sometime!   
  • Daniel, what "edition" of Windows 10 is it running? Can it, for instance, join an Active Directory domain and access servers on the local network? A picture of "About" and "winver" and "slmgr -dlv" output would be nice.
  • It's definitely Windows 10, but a lot of stuff has been taken out. (I poked through the Emulator's disk image) All it can do right now is apps, apps, apps. A lot of UWP in here. Hopefully some things are added back as time goes on, like some Win32 features.
  • Seems faster!
  • I don't know what's scarier, that this thing costs $3000 or that it's $200 cheaper than the best Surface Book configuration. I wonder how much they'll be able to get the cost down to for the consumer version, whenever that will be.
  • The fact is Surface Book is just laptop (event if it seems to be close to be one of the best). HoloLens is entirely differen thing, so it is kind of not fair to compare them even in price.
  • 3000 usd = 3937 cnd!
  • HoloLens is more exciting. :-Þ
  • Awesome !
  • I don't care even if sataya is doing the unboxing. I want Mark.
    But Dan is an all-rounder. Nice work unboxing. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • By the time I am writing this Dan is having fun with hololens.
    Pls share your excitement Dan.;") Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Now I want tons of video of hololens works. Upload them on a day of week like we used to get Galaxy explorer video every Wednesday. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Hey Danny, how about some HoLoLens give away eh? :D  U dont need that one, give that to us BRUH!!!!!
  • Hey Dan. Pls Build a forum to submit request for different set of experiments for hololens.
    Let us all share it together.
    A pretty pls. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Very cool, looking forward to your next update on this!
  • It might be a perception issue, but I find it amazing how freaked out people are by the price of this. As a developer kit it is a business purchase. In my field, digital technology devices start the $6000+ range. This seems like a bargain for the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of a new platform.
  • looks nice.
  • Did mobile nations for pay the hololens or you guys at WC paid for it. I'm currently satisfied with my $100 gear vr. $3000 is not cheap. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • The future is in the software code. But the device is insanely cool. If I get one of these, I will be the happiest person on earth!
  • Looking forward to the competition where you give this away!
  • Dan can it take screen shots, what you can see when you wear it so you can post them here.
  • Sounds like bragging...
    Wish I had 3K to 'try' one of these out!  Trying to get my principal to buy one of these for our robotics and CAD labs using Autodesk but he won't budge.  This SUCKS.....
  • Hope they fix all the bugs. I find it quite weird that only now – when it ships to developers – you read about most of the problems but never before (even though lots of people/journalists/bloggers tried it; but then they probably had to sign a NDA and not disclose the major issues). I think especially the blueish tint, the blurry image and the heavy lag when moving your head are a big no-go for most consumers. So Microsoft still has a long way to go.
  •   Hi!! Just WHAT DOES the HoloLens do & What is for?          
  • That is why it is being sold to developers first. As a new platform, they are the sources of what it can do and be used for. It should be an intersting next year or so as developers get a chance to experiment and write apps to use. Hopefully they will come up with some great ideas other than the obvous game apps.
  • That BB-8 really messed with the Unboxing...