VR: Should You Go With A Mixed Reality Headset Over A VR Option?

September 8, 2017 - Written By Justin Diaz

VR and MR are all still in their infancy if you really think about it, but there are still available options in both of those categories. The question is which one to go with if you’re interested in them – virtual reality or mixed reality? If you settle on virtual reality then you have a handful of mobile options at your disposal, such as the Gear VR or Daydream View, both of which are available for users with compatible devices and at a relatively low cost. On the other hand, there are also more high-end options like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, or the PlayStation VR, all of which have a growing list of quality titles to dive into and immerse yourself in a world of different environments, but also all at fairly high prices.

With Mixed Reality, the cost of the tech is really not much different from those high-end VR options, but the nice thing about MR headsets is that they “mix” (hence the name) virtual reality and augmented reality for a more unique flavor of immersion. It blends the best of both worlds and lets you experience both types of content, and because of this it might end up letting you really do more as the headsets will offer a more versatile collection of apps, games, and tools. Plus, there are already some Mixed Reality headsets on the market that you can get your hands on and more are on the way. Lenovo, for instance, recently unveiled The Explorer, which comes at a price of $349.99, or $449.99 if you want to pick it up in a bundle with the touch controllers, and it will arrive in October so while you can’t actually buy it now it will be available soon.

Similar to the Lenovo option, Dell recently announced a Mixed Reality headset as well, called The Visor because of the way it lets you flip up the front part of the headset when not in use, just like a visor. It also comes in at a cost of $349.99, or in a bundle for $449.99 if you want to add the touch controllers. That said, both it and the Explorer will also work with an Xbox One gamepad, or a mouse and keyboard, so you have your options with controls as well, and you’ll likely want them due to the variety of content that will eventually be available for Microsoft’s Mixed Reality platform.

As for the content, Mixed Reality content on Windows 10 will include popular Xbox titles, web browsing, video chat, Netflix, and so much more, you’ll even have the ability to use some of the augmented reality apps and tools to interact with digital content while still being able to see the real world around you. All of that might sound pretty compelling but there is definitely a caveat to consider, which is that the Mixed Reality platform is currently limited in what it offers, as it’s new and Microsoft and its partners are still building things out. So therein lies the issue with deciding on what platform to go with. VR will lack a little bit of the cool technology that MR will offer, but it has much more content as hardware has already been available for more than a year and developers have had a lot more time to work with the platform and hardware to deliver engaging, interactive content. You might end up spending a little more with options like the Vive or Rift, if you get the controllers, but you’ll also have more content to check out. Much more. With options like the Visor or the Explorer though, or any other MR headset that ends up launching, you’ll get content which the VR hardware won’t be able to deliver. If you’re a tech enthusiast, then all of it is likely cool. If you don’t mind waiting on the content list to build up, then any of the Mixed Reality options might be the better solution, however, if you want an already-large list of content, you might be better off spending a little bit more to go with a VR option, or go the low-end route and pick up a mobile VR headset.