Product Review: Dell Visor Windows MR Headset
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Product Review: Dell Visor Windows MR Headset

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The Visor is Dell’s offering to the stable of Windows Mixed Reality Headsets but is it a thoroughbred or a nag?

The first thing that hit me when I popped on the Dell Visor was its weightless comfort. It is similar in design to the PS4 VR headset and puts the weight of the device on the top of your head but is just a bit easier to get used to wearing and less front-heavy. After trying some VR headsets that clamp the screen onto the front of your face with straps I have been left in physical pain (specially around the nose and ears) and so have become a connoisseur of VR comfort (or lack thereof) and the Dell design gets top marks. I found concerns about light leaks to be irrelevant and not once was it an issue for me.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented Dell visor headset hand controllers microsoft

After an hour I felt no ill effects, and after three more hours can safely say I would wear this all day! And when you take into account the convenient flip-up display, for those moments when you want a slurp of tea or a quick biscuit, Tech Trends can happily give this the comfort stamp of approval.

I would wear this all day and when you take into account the flip-up display, for those moments when you want a slurp of tea or a quick biscuit, Tech Trends can happily give this the comfort stamp of approval Click To Tweet

It is also a good-looking bit of kit and the design puts the focus on the two inside-out tracking cameras built into the sides of the headset. This promising tech tracks the area around you and monitors how it changes as you move rather than tracking the position of the headset in relation to external sensors like most of the HMD competition does.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented Dell visor headset hand controllers microsoft

Inside-out tracking cameras tracks the area around you and monitors how it changes as you move rather than tracking the position of the headset in relation to external sensors like the HMD competition does Click To Tweet

The Visor also contains a set of gyroscopic sensors, an accelerometer and a magnetometer that all help monitor your position in relation to surrounding objects, very clever. The cameras sit a little further apart than your eyes on the front of the HMD and make you look a bit like a confused Pixar robot or a happy manta ray. Importantly the visor has dual 1440 x 1440px screens that run at 90 Hz and with a pixel density of 706ppi are a step up in resolution from the Rift and Vive.

The hand controllers are made of cheap looking plastic and with little contouring for the hands so style-wise they let down the package a bit Click To Tweet

The hand controllers are a bit less attractive, made of cheap looking plastic and with little contouring for the hands. Each boasts a touchpad, thumb joystick, trigger and three other buttons, one of which is a Windows button! Very old school but the Visor is, of course, a Windows Mixed Reality device. More on the hand controllers later but style wise they do let down the package a bit.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented Dell visor headset hand controllers microsoft

Yes, the Visor can be used with a variety of apps and services such as SteamVR but as an official Windows Mixed Reality Headset, we will limit this review to the hardware and its capabilities on that platform. Set up in Windows 10 was a doddle, easily one of the most misery free VR setups I have done yet but please note you do need to ensure your Win10 machine is current with the latest Microsoft MR capable updates or it simply won’t work.

Set up in Windows 10 was a doddle, easily one of the most misery free VR setups I have done yet Click To Tweet

My laptop was up to date but still downloaded and installed some new bits and bobs when I first plugged it in so make sure you are online for the setup. After that, the built-in Windows Mixed Reality program whizzed me through the rest of the process and dumped me into VR with a silky-voiced lady telling me what was happening and running me through a few basic functions before leaving me to mess about on my own.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented Dell visor headset hand controllers microsoft

Standing in the Cliff House (Microsoft’s VR version of a universal desktop) I got used to the tools and functions on offer and was pleasantly surprised that the flimsy-looking hand controllers worked as well as any other I had used. After teleporting around, popping in and out of a few apps and a quick training session to be a Halo Master Chief I couldn’t fault them. They’re not super-comfortable, and getting to all the buttons is a bit of a faff, but that’s a problem all such controllers have, and these had a nice weight and worked perfectly.

Standing in the Cliff House I got used to the tools and functions on offer and was pleasantly surprised that the flimsy looking Dell Visor Hand Controllers worked as well as any other I had used Click To Tweet

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented Dell visor headset hand controllers microsoft

The image quality was not really a clear advance over the competition I have tried but was very comfortable to use and I had no eye strain or dizziness after a long session Click To Tweet

The image quality was not really a clear advance over the competition I have tried but was very comfortable to use and I had no eye strain or dizziness after a long session. When the next gen of much higher resolution, fast-refreshing screens become available, immersive experiences will really make an impact on the public who quite rightly have been a little underwhelmed by what is on offer today. No matter how good the game or the environment you are immersed in, poor screen quality holds the user back from buying into the whole thing. The Visor has good screens and among the most comfortable to use for long periods that I have tested so no actual complaints, for once!

The Visor has good screens and among the most comfortable to use for long periods that I have tested so no actual complaints, for once! Click To Tweet

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented Dell visor headset hand controllers microsoft

The Visor doesn’t have built-in headphones which is a shame Click To Tweet

The Visor doesn’t have built-in headphones which is a shame as it would make putting it on and off a bit easier but it’s not a huge deal for me, the short cables are annoying though. If you are connected to a laptop on a desk and are seated it works OK but the usable area – the area for you to walk around in while hooked up to the computer – is only about 2.5 meters square and if you are plugged into the back of a PC that gets a bit smaller as the cable goes under the desk and round the back of the PC. I can’t see why they are so short and that is probably the worst thing about this kit. One extra meter of cable wouldn’t have cost much and would have reduced VR friction massively.

I can’t understand why the cables are so short and this is probably the worst thing about this kit Click To Tweet

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented Dell visor headset hand controllers microsoft

Expected the hand controllers to talk straight to the headset via Bluetooth but found that they actually need to connect to your computer Click To Tweet

Another oddity that will present a problem for users with less advanced computers is the lack of a Bluetooth adaptor in the headset. I expected the hand controllers to talk straight to the headset via Bluetooth but found that they actually need to connect to your computer and if you don’t have Bluetooth built into your laptop or PC then you will need an adaptor.

Coming in at £100ish cheaper than the Rift and less than half the price of the Vive, Dell is offering a very good product at the right price Click To Tweet

If this is a cost saving issue for Dell then it becomes a cost boosting issue for users who have to shell out for a more advanced computer or a separate Bluetooth adaptor, not great. However, it works perfectly when set up in Win10 but note that the Bluetooth pairing buttons are hidden under the handset’s battery covers so you will only want to pair them once as it is a bit fiddly.

Alice Bonasio VR Consultancy MR Tom Atkinson Tech Trends Review AR Mixed Virtual Reality Augmented Dell visor headset hand controllers microsoft

I found the Dell Visor to be simple, comfortable and in terms of functionality, only a few steps behind the big boys Oculus and HTC and then only really in terms of in-game response times, it is a little slower Click To Tweet

All in all, I found the Dell Visor to be simple, comfortable and in terms of functionality, only a few steps behind the big boys Oculus and HTC and then only really in terms of in-game response times, it is a little slower. As a low-cost entry point into the world of Windows Mixed Reality, and VR in general, it is excellent. Coming in at £100ish cheaper than the Rift (here in the UK) and less than half the price of the Vive, Dell is offering a very good product at the right price, I want one.

Tom Atkinson is a Digital Producer & Photographer at R3Digital and Reviews & Dept. Editor at Tech Trends. Connect on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @R3Digital

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