New Samsung Headset Tries to Overcome Mixed Reality’s Biggest Problem

Posted on October 22, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Windows 10 with 9 Comments

The Samsung HMD Odyssey+ will set you back a whopping $500, but it comes with a higher-resolution display that the firm says eliminates the dreaded “Screen Door Effect” that dogs the first generation of Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

“The Samsung HMD Odyssey+ delivers an improved life-like and immersive experience,” Microsoft’s Athima Chansanchai explains. “You’ll experience true, distraction-free immersive viewing with the Samsung HMD Odyssey+’s exclusive Anti-Screen Door Effect (Anti-SDE) Display innovation.”

I suppose that the Screen Door Effect is Mixed Reality’s version of the “mail slot” field of view issue with HoloLens in that it’s the one major problem cited by customers. I wasn’t actually familiar with this effect, but Chansanchai explains it.

“When fine lines separating pixels become visible in some displays, the ‘screen door effect’ can hinder immersion and even lead to dizziness or nausea over time,” the Microsoftie writes. “This headset deploys its cutting-edge display technology to fight irritating fixed-pattern noise for an enhanced MR experience.”

If you compare the HMD Odyssey+ to its predecessor, you’ll see that it has a higher-resolution combined resolution of 2880 x 1600 (meaning 1440 x 1600 per eye) where most first-generation MR headsets utilized a 2,880 x 1,440 resolution (or 1440 x 1440 per eye). That doesn’t sound like a huge change to me. But combined with that Anti-SDE technology, it apparently makes a meaningful difference.

Not that anyone should buy this headset of course: Windows Mixed Reality has been a major failure for Microsoft. And $500 is an insanely high price for such a product. I’m sure we’ll see this thing in the bargain bin soon enough.


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Comments (9)

9 responses to “New Samsung Headset Tries to Overcome Mixed Reality’s Biggest Problem”

  1. cr08

    I wouldn't say the screens and SDE are the biggest issues, but rather WMR's current reliance entirely on a user provided Bluetooth adapter for the controllers where reliability is all over the board depending on the BT chipset, whether it is internal or a USB dongle, where the antennas are placed, etc.. It is probably the most common issue that is brought up over on /r/WindowsMR.

    Thankfully it looks like the Odyssey+ is going to be including a BT receiver, thanks to info from the FCC filings, which is likely going to be right in the headset which should be an optimal setup for the controllers.

    Overall I wouldn't say WMR is a -total- failure at this point. Maybe on the matter of Microsoft not actively pushing and marketing it, sure. But with the first gen devices at such low prices, they have seen a significant uptake and even better a lot of game and app developers have been adding WMR specific support and the WMR team at Microsoft have been doing very good work with very useful updates and features released on the regular. TL;DR: The software side of it is solid and has no signs of being neglected any time soon.

    And the WMR design has a significant advantage over the Oculus and Vive setups where the initial play area setup is stupid simple with the inside-out tracking making the platform extremely portable. We're only now seeing the Oculus Quest taking advantage of inside-out sensor-less tracking but that is another standalone PC-less headset so software availability is greatly reduced.

    I may be biased with Windows Mixed Reality but if I had the option of picking up an Odyssey+ or Vive/Vive Pro/Rift at the same or similar price points, I'd go with the Odyssey most likely. And that is primarily due to the (to me) superior tracking and setup and the fact my primary VR machine is a gaming laptop so it makes it really nice to pack it all up and go play anywhere else on a whim.

    All in all I can see some concerns especially from outsiders as Microsoft has been practically radio silent on the platform. My own personal hope is the first gen devices were more of a test bed and current users are essentially beta testing for them. And they're just waiting to get everything right before going all in. They may even be waiting for the Xbox hardware to advance enough to properly support VR. But this is Microsoft we're talking about so who knows. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • chrisrut

      In reply to cr08:

      Agreed. I suspect MS is waiting for their 3rd-Gen Hololens before making any splash, instead concentrating on ironing out the platform. We shall see. I'd be willing to shell out serious shekels for a system that delivers a great user experience.

  2. Winner

    Here I thought the new feature would be an attached barf bag.

  3. skane2600

    Mixed Reality's biggest problem is headsets. Their existence.

  4. nbates66

    I'd say the Mixed Reality Headsets were already above the competitors for "simulator" uses like racing or aircraft sims, as far as the "Screen door effect" goes they already suffered from it less than Occulus and Vive (Vive Pro is more equal, but has a ridiculous cost).

    Primary problems of course are perception (something Microsoft made) as well as failing to bundle a decent Bluetooth dongle, besides the arguments about the popularity of VR in general anyways. From a compatibility standpoint you can usually run just about anything that's available for SteamVR.

    • sportflier

      In reply to nbates66:

      I'd rather run natively then via SteamVR within WMR... it's a kludgy solution. But it does work. And in my opinion, WMR would be a total flop without SteamVR.

      And to all the haters out there... it's what you do (or don't do) with the technology that matters... not how popular it is. For now I'm enjoying it. Google Earth VR by itself has been worth the price of admission.

  5. Tony Barrett

    WMR never even really got off the ground... it was pretty much DoA, and this will be yet another failed device. Just give up already, nobody is interested.

  6. sportflier

    I have the original Samsung Odyssey and I'm not clear on what the "screen door effect" is... perhaps if I tried their 2nd gen device, it would be more evident to me. My main complaints about the current headset have to do with the poor ergonomics; it's very hard for me to get the headset in the visual sweet spot, and it's not very comfortable; I often have a gouge in the bridge of my nose after a session. For me to even think about upgrading, they would need to fix the comfort issues.

    • cr08

      In reply to sportflier:

      To put it in very simple terms, SDE is like taking an older or lower resolution LCD screen and putting your face right up to it. It's being able to see the distinct grid between pixels to essentially look like a screen door as the term implies.

      Honestly even with my Acer WMR headset I haven't had any significant SDE concerns. Admittedly it is definitely dependent on the individual but the increased resolution of even the non-Odyssey WMR headsets compared to the Vive or Rift do have a tangible effect of reducing the level of SDE experienced.