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You can totally stream Xbox One games to the HoloLens and play them

As I continue to explore what can and can't be done on the Microsoft HoloLens there are always little surprises here and there.

One of those is the ability to use the Xbox app for Windows 10 to connect to and stream Xbox One content to the HoloLens. In and of itself, this should not be surprising. HoloLens is, after all, just another Windows 10 PC. Still, as a proof of concept it I decided to give it a shot, and it works just fine.

To make it all happen, I just went to the Windows Store on HoloLens and installed the Xbox (beta) app. Since the HoloLens and Xbox One were on the same network, they linked up with no issues using the Connect feature. After making sure the Xbox One was logged into my account, I decided to Stream to my HoloLens just like you would on your Windows 10 PC.

To control the Xbox you just need to have a wireless controller turned on to control the Xbox One directly (it cannot pair to the HoloLens as far as I know, at least not yet). From there on out it was just a matter of playing the game.

Any game.

I played Quantum Break and even Rocket League to test the setup. My network is pretty solid, so I had virtually no lag between the TV and the HoloLens. In fact, I was able to put the hologram of the Xbox app and stream right next to my TV for a 1:1 to compare between the two. Same goes for framerates, which seemed the same to my eyes.

Note: Photos on the HoloLens are taken using the built-in 2MP camera. Needless to say, the resolution is far, far below what you experience, so consider it a rough idea of what it looks like. The experience is much better!

A limitation, however, was with video recording. While I could record video of the game stream the HoloLens began to hit its limits as the game started to stutter and I saw a massive increase in lag. What gives, Microsoft? Can't I stream an Xbox One game to my 3D holographic wearable computer and record 720P video at the same time? (That was sarcasm, by the way). Anyway, that is why there is no accompanying video to demonstrate this feat in computing.

How big can you make it?

You can make a 2D hologram quite large. The most significant limitation is the field-of-view on the HoloLens as eventually you can make it big enough that you will have to pan your head to "see" the whole app.

For laughs, though, I was able to make the hologram equal to and larger than my 55-inch Samsung TV (see the above image; the TV is the lower one). Even at a 65-inch span, I was able to play on my couch with no issue.

What about the absence of the color black?

One limitation of the HoloLens is the inability to display blacks. That sounds huge, but there are optical tricks your eyes play on you to make up for it. For instance, just having a background that is slightly darker than the projected hologram gives you that 'darker' feel and it seems like a black color.

The only thing I can say about this issue is unless I told you about you would likely not even notice it. In comparing it to the game I was playing, I could not see that the difference was, so I'm putting this under things not to worry about.

Is this a real alternative?

Although there is no lag with the stream and I could make the windows as big as I wanted color depth, resolution, and sharpness is likely much better on an actual TV (especially my high-end Samsung one, ahem).

However, putting aside what I think is an obvious difference game streaming on the Xbox One to HoloLens is entirely doable and hardly a bad experience. For hardcore gamers, it could be fun to use in another room in the house as you can make your wall 'one big TV' (assuming your wireless controller reaches; hopefully, wireless Xbox controller support will come directly to the HoloLens).

Besides gaming, you can also use any app that streams on the Xbox One as well, so there is potential there to have some fun.

Anyway, if you have any questions ask away in comments and I'll try to answer!

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Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

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.

74 Comments
  • Wth are you serious!!!!
  • He's serious!
  • Dude... Msft is insane... Just need them to add some of this innovation to my phone lol. Jk. Beggars can't be choosers lol
  • Seriously?
  • All I can say is that MS has always had some nice ****.. Lol.
    ......
    The first thing that comes to my mind is when are we looking at a HL2 (for consumers as well),, and will MS market this properly? The world needs to know about how deep Windows10 runs, and all of it's possibilities... I've been saying this for years... MS needs a HUGE Superbowl campaign, along with the sickest marketing campaign in televised history.
    For 2017 we got Anniversary Update 2, SPH, SP5, S5, SB2, MSB3, possibly an updated XB1, HL2?,, Surface hub 2? what am I missing??. This is enough for MS to take over the airwaves!
  • Any ideas on the effects of hololens on your eyes? Concerning depth perception and focusing. I know it's not like staring at a phone screen that close, as your mind is tricked into thinking it's further away, but there is a screen pretty close to your eyes.
  • It'll vary from person to person, but yeah, i notice a shift in going quickly between hololens to 'real life' or a PC display. I also get 'tired' a little more quickly, but I am kind of sensitive to those things and sensory overload (cities take their toll on me due to noise/visual stimuli). It's not bad, but could be an issue for some. OTOH, I know some devs at MS who wear it all day, so...
  • Good to know thanks. Enjoy it!
  • Here's the million dollar question..
    .....
    Have you tried using it with "pornographies"❓
  • Ohhhjh +100000000
  • They should probably make the consumer version at the very least splash proof... Just sayin
  • You know he has, 10 mins on X One and 12 hours on Porn Hub !
  • Yes. I know this.
  • Hey Dan why not give the review if windows phone store: HOLO LENS APP...it says you can stream the holograms to your phone
  • If it's really just shooting light into your eyes, then I expect that the issue would be the same as being in a bright environment for an extended period of time. Though that may depend on the room you're in. If you're in a dark room and your pupils are wide open then the light coming in from HoloLens may tire you out faster perhaps?
  • Nice!
  • That would be really cool if you had multiple screen capabilities so you could attach a live tv screen on one wall and an Xbox game on another.
  • hmm...seems like you should be able to do this since we see multiple apps that Daniel has pinned up in his room. Maybe pin the Xbox app in one space and then the Microsoft TV and Movies app with Star Wars The Force Awakens right next to it. If you get the chance please try it out Daniel.
  • Uverse customers could do this if AT&T would make a freakin Uverse app for Windows 10 already. Or maybe it would work if we go to the uverse website on the HoloLens Edge browser and play live tv from there with Edge pinned right next to the XBOX app.
  • If you have the USB tv tuner, you could run both in the split screen but that wouldn't be nearly as cool. Still, it's possible.
  • I agree. I have Uverse and would love that.
  • The best way I can describe it is other hologram apps get tombstoned when you are not using them and launch another app. So, not true multitasking yet. They stay visible as either icons or the app's logo, but are not active. Hologram objects (using the Holograms app) stay visible. The exception is audio apps as they can continue to stream in the background when using other apps. If you use anything with Unity though for full-on holographic gaming everything else goes to the background until you exit the game. I assume that is due to the processing power needed for real-world mapping/hologram generation.
  • Sounds like a great opportunity to incorporate live tiles in place of app logos when running in the background!
  • hah, that would be awesome and I agree. that is missing right now.
  • Full-on holographic experiences (or 3D rendering mode, basically) are not multi-tasking because of another reason, an app can get the room map to integrate with the real world (physics, occlusion, etc...), but if you let several apps show 3D holograms simultaneously, you then need these apps to cooperate for holograms to interact with each other in space, a ball-drop simulation app needs to make it bounce on furnitures but also on other apps' holograms. ​While not impossible, this makes it much more difficult and will probably come in later versions.
  • Or, just use your real TV as the live, and stream xbox on the lens side by side... Watch football and play games...
  • I was concerned at first whether the hololens would become more than just a gimmicky device that is cool, but other than niche circumstances, not very useful. These latest articles are very encouraging. It is apparent how anyone could benefit (if the price is reasonable) from multiple screens and holograms surrounding them. The possibilties for multitasking are endless. Even a 50 inch computer screen could get cluttered, but if you have an entire room to fill it changes everything. 
  • What's neat is holograms are persistent meaning they stay where you leave them. My weather is always in the same location and any holograms I decorate the room are there when I turn HoloLens back on at any time. HoloLens remembers the spaces associated with the WiFi network. Neat stuff.
  • I know you're gonna hate this question, but you heard of anything pertaining to a HL2? Rumor, hint, reference? Anything?.... I'm not really expected that you have any kind of detailed answer,, just your opinion on what you might have perceived as a clue.
  • Wow, uber cool
  • wasted money recently buying a 65" TV. lol!!!
  • No, you didn't. Not yet.
  • Windows 10 core.  The gift that just keeps on giving.
  • This is so cool it's ridiculous. Stuff like this reminds me why I fell in love with technology in the first place.
  • Exactly.. I know exactly what you mean.
  • Do you get dizzy? Can you wear it with glasses on?
  • Yes you can wear glasses
  • holy ****. cant wait for the consumer release.
  • Cows
  • Now talk about something boring for a change, like doing spreadsheets on that thing haha
  • lol, which you totally could do...
  • I just got strangely very excited.
  • What we need is an app so that customers could take video with their phones, and the app would process it into a virtual tour... For example, I have a pressure washing service on the side, and customers send me pictures of their driveway, patio, deck, or brick,, for a quick quote... This might give me a better example of what they need done so that I can get them a more accurate quote faster... Heck, I could even use it at work, and be right there with them in their backyard.. This is gonna revolutionize business. Wow.
  • That's it, justify your next toy purchase as a business requirement so she who must be obeyed agrees.
  • Do u even understand how much time is saved.. Try to get one appliance changed in your home. It is like 3 days to get some one to visit the home and  to check it out. so u can not imagine the business possibilities. poor U!!!  
  • What was the worst part, during the whole experience....????
    When you said, "Uhhhh WTF".
  • I would love to see the ability to cast things like video to the hololens if its not already possible
  • A miracast display app is coming in Windows 10 summer's update (anniversary edition), this lets you connect your phone or tablet to mirror its screen in a UWP app. I don't see any reason why this app couldn't be used to mirror any device to a virtual screen by pinning the app on a wall in HoloLens.
  • Hi Daniel. Would you please describe what it's like to use HoloLens in a dark room? Does being in a dark room improve movies or game play?
  • Ok, so it's cool that it can do this, but why would you want to? I don't see any benefit if it's worse quality than your tv, costs you more in electricity and is physically more uncomfortable.
    I don't want to get all Emperors-New-Clothes, but I still don't see any non-gimmicky consumer value to the hololens.
    I totally understand the benefits to people who work in 3D modelling (engineers etc) but why should I be excited by this when VR is available? Serious question, not being a hater.
  • I'm surprised no one has answered you yet. From a consumer standpoint I think there are plenty of things that can be done with Hololens besides essentially placing a TV wherever you want in your house. I know l would love it for practical reasons like creating an overlay for home and appliance repairs for people who don't specialized in it. Instruction is a huge benefit and use case I see for it. They are already doing something similar with NASA and giving instructions. People could also use it for shopping and "trying on" clothes without having to do it in real life and perhaps even try it on in different settings since AR can be as immersive as you want. On the gaming side of things, it's a different type from VR but it has the added benefit of allowing you to move around freely and incorporate your environment into your gameplay. I'll leave you to imagine the sorts of games you can play either by yourself or friends if you were un-tethethered. There are more things I can think of but remember too that VR can still make some people sick and that it isn't for everyone. I know I'm in that camp because I have little ones and I'd be remiss as a parent if I strapped on a device that shuts them out completely.
  • Also, do you get blocked if you try to stream Netflix etc from the Xbox One? (as you do on the pc)
  • I'm confused by what you're saying about its size limit.  You mention the field of view limiting it and trying a 65" size, but then say you could use a whole wall size.  Would the field of view let you do a whole wall, like 120"+ size, or would it require you to sit 20' back to be able to do that?
  • Yeah, we sort of need to know some distances here...
  • Very very cool
  • Okay so you said your network is pretty solid, does that mean you were streaming it on the highest configuration? If true, please tell me what kind of router you have because mine is just bad. Even medium config gets laggey, I know its not the xbox's fault nor the laptop's. If someone has a good recommendation it would be great, my xbox is connected with Ethernet cable but not the laptop.
  • Make sure your WiFi is set to an optimal channel. There are several apps in the store to help with this. Most folks don't mess with this which means everyone in your neighborhood is probably on channel 6 for the 2.4 band. I did it for both bands and it made a big difference.
  • That is awesome.
  • Now I wonder if Netflix would work on the HoloLens
  • Netflix has UWP.
  • What happens if you use it in a dark room?
  • This is rockin!! Thank you for these articles, Daniel! It is truly very exciting to vicariously experience "discovering HoloLens!" Super fun!!
  • This would be awesome, but I'm not sure about the usability, like you said. Visual quality on the headset and the heaviness of it makes me think it's more a novelty for a level or two, rather than something where you could plug the headset in (to avoid battery drain) and play for a long while. ...but I still want one, and to do exactly this.
  • really cool stuff
  • How does the airtap compare to the actual clickers?
  • Wow
  • So looking forward to seeing Revit or Autocad on Hololens.... Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • It seems to be avoided most of the time but I'm interested in the actual field of view, it's tricky to describe I'm sure but let's say you have a sheet of A4 paper, how far away from your eyes would it be to match the active area?
  • Interesting...If it was $500, I might buy it just for that.... but, $3K, nah, I'll stick with my 65" 4K tv.. I guess after all the default/demo stuff gets old, playing your xbox with out having to have to take over the TV could be usefull.  Now if we can just expand the RANGE of the XBOX ONE controller (still not even 1/2 of what the 360 could do)
  • MS you drunk, go home.
  • I just need a few virtual ladies walking in my room
  • Does the HoloLens not have a USB port for plugging in a controller?
  • If you play in the dark, wouldn't that take care of the lack of black?
  • VR just got OWNED.  Now lets do full screen...