Acer showed off its upcoming virtual reality headset at an event at one of the UK’s premier theme parks, Thorpe Park, and while the Thorpe Park’s own VR ride was broken, the Acer hardware was very impressive.

Physically, this is not a hefty bit of kit. In fact, it was easy to forget that it was even on my head. The headset consists of an adjustable band with a visor that flips into place. The visor is padded, which makes the thing even more comfortable on the face. Officially, it is still under development, but it felt very complete to me.

Ian Dixon at the controls
Ian Dixon at the controls

The demo was the Microsoft cliff-top house environment. After pacing out a circle to create a virtual barrier (the headset is wired, so you cannot stray too far from the computer) and snapping down the visor, the user is plunged into the airy virtual world of a house looking out over an ocean, replete with virtual screens for common Microsoft apps, such as Groove or Video. The virtual screens can be dragged and dropped around – no need for nails and DIY here!  There is even a virtual cinema room for Xbox gaming.

I normally associate VR with nausea, but experienced none of that as I navigated the house. I did get a little vertigo when I transported myself to a window ledge and peered down to the sea at the bottom of the cliff, but since that would likely happen in the real world as well, it is more a sign of the accuracy of the simulation. On this development version, navigation was via an xbox controller, which was highly unintuitive for anyone but a gamer. The production version will feature more friendly controls. The visuals were perhaps not as crisp as the those on the Avegant Glyph headset, but certainly more than acceptable in the demo. How well the displays would cope with a fast-moving game remains to be seen.

The headset should be launched in time for Christmas 2017, and a full review will follow then.

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