LAS VEGAS — Microsoft is still hard at work at HoloLens, its super-futuristic goggles that project 3D “holograms” into your field of vision.
But while programmers have been able to pony up a steep $2,999 for an early, developer edition of the HoloLens headset since March 2016, there’s been no word on when it’ll hit the store shelves for the average consumer.
Well, at this week’s 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft gave us a big update:
Microsoft is teaming up with a handful of PC makers who will release their own headsets based on Hololens technology over the next few months.
The headsets will basically do the same thing as Hololens — which Microsoft still isn’t providing a timeframe for the availability of a consumer version — but will be made by Dell, Acer, HP, Lenovo and 3Glasses. And they’ll be available starting at $299.
“These new head mounted displays will be the first consumer offerings utilizing the Mixed Reality capabilities of Windows 10 Creators Update,” says a Microsoft spokesperson.
So while it’s unlikely that HoloLens itself will be hitting shelves this year, you’ll have your choice of headset that runs the very same software, right in time for Windows 10 to get an update in the first half of this year that adds support for HoloLens-style so-called “mixed reality.”
The headsets are likely to cover a whole gamut of price and performance ranges, much like the PCs that these companies already make. Some will be cheaper than others, depending on the cost of build materials or processing power; some will be high-end monsters.
Unlike HoloLens, all of these headsets will need to be tethered to a PC to work, which is a big limitation. However, Microsoft promises that PCs that support the headsets will only cost in the neighborhood of $500
It’s too early to tell whether these headsets will provide the same impressive experience as the Microsoft-made HoloLens, which left us wowed when we tested it last year. While the software is the same, the hardware could make a big difference, in the same way that a $1,500 Surface Book laptop is a better experience than a $200 no-name Windows PC.
Still, these headsets already have two major advantages: They’ll be way cheaper than the Microsoft version, and you’ll actually be able to buy them off the shelf.
The launch of these consumer models will also turn up the heat on competitors like Magic Leap, a well-funded startup building a similar product to HoloLens.
Without further ado, here’s your first look at the very first head-mounted displays for Windows 10: