Samsung may be better known for smartphones and monitors, but one should not ignore the brand's efforts in the virtual reality world. Along with the Samsung HMD Odyssey+, the Korean company offers the best argument for using the Windows Mixed Reality platform. We've already mentioned a couple of devices on the WMR platform, such as the HP Reverb G2 and Microsoft Hololens.
The Samsung HMD Odyssey+ is the successor to the original Odyssey, and the main added advantage is the improved display. Unfortunately, it doesn't follow its predecessor in all markets and remains exclusive to the U.S. at the time of writing. Of course, it is possible to introduce it, which for the inhabitants of Europe is the only option.
The Samsung HMD Odyssey+ can be purchased at Samsung's online store and Microsoft for $499. At the time of launch it was a particularly attractive price, especially on the action. Now, thanks to the price cuts, the main competitors Oculus Rift ($399) and HTC Vive ($499) are cheaper, making the choice more difficult. But Odyssey+ has enough virtues to find itself in this price range and potentially outperforms the competition.
Unlike current PC-based VR devices, it doesn't take too powerful a system to run the Samsung HMD Odyssey+ on your computer. In order to be able to use the hedset with 90 Hz and a full resolution experience, the following items are required:
- Operating system: Windows 10 Fall Creators Update or later
- Processor: Intel®Core™ i5 4590 or better / AMD Ryzen 5 1400 3.4 GHz or better
- RAM: 8Gb DDR3 or better
- Graphics card: – Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 or better/ AMD Radeon RX 470/570 or better
- Graphics driver: Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 2.2 or better
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 for motion controllers
Design and comfort
Samsung improved the Odyssey+ by reducing the weight slightly, to 590g, and making a few ergonomic changes for comfort. Dual AMOLED lenses front and built-in earbuds on each side. It's still not the easiest HMD, but enough lining around the visor, crown and back relieves your head.
Samsung Odyssey+ is quite comfortable. All WMR headsets use a PSVR-style halo, which is much easier to wear and can be more easily adapted to a larger number of head sizes. Plus, the Samsung Odyssey+ has a thick and very comfortable faux leather lining.
The hedset circuit, lens distance, and headphone height can be adjusted, but can vary depending on the shape of the head. The problem with comfort that is common with VR headphones is that they are heavy on the front, so after prolonged use (about 3 hours) the pressure on the forehead becomes too great for users. In terms of comfort, it's potentially better than the HTC Vive and other WMR headphones, but it's not as good as the Oculus Rift, or the king of VR comfort so far – PlayStation VR.
Unlike other Windows Mixed Reality headphones, the Odyssey+ (just like the original Odyssey) doesn't have a toggle visor. Instead, you can use a "flashlight" feature that allows you to quickly see the real world through the hedset to check your environment.
It's still not as convenient as the ability to flip a visor, so if you're a developer who needs to quickly and frequently switch between headphone use and traditional mouse/keyboard/monitor settings, this factor should be taken into account. On the outside are attractive headphones with classic Samsung design lines: black, stylish and shiny. The 4m cable extends on the left and forks into USB 3 and HDMI ports.
Resolution and other specifications
Highlights of the Samsung HMD Odyssey+ are its dual AMOLED displays. They pop out with a resolution of 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye and a refresh rate between 90 and 60 Hz. By comparison, the Acer Mixed Reality HMD has a resolution of 1440 x 1440 per eye with a refresh rate of 90Hz.
On paper, the numbers seem close. However, in reality, Samsung's visuals are soft with an extra vibrancy of color that is noticeable. Acer's visuals were a bit more muted and just a little rougher. The AMOLED display technology, which Samsung is known for on its Galaxy phones, clearly makes a difference. Compared to dell visor, which has boring and even more pronounced uneven image quality, the Samsung HMD Odyssey+ is arguably superior. A special thing about Odyssey+ displays is what Samsung calls the anti-display door effect (anti-SDE, "anti Screen Door Effect").
The screen door effect is when the distance between pixels (or LEDs) on the screen are visible as fine black lines, giving you the impression that you are looking at the image through some kind of wire mesh. This was an unpleasant problem that interfered with immersion on other VR headphones, but Samsung's solution eliminates this altogether, resulting in a clear and clear visual experience.
The FoV (field of view) is 110 degrees, the same as the Oculus Rift. Users have actually reported a sense of a wider field of view than it actually is, but only an in-depth comparison can confirm this. Dizziness or nausea are not factors at all, using Odyssey+ in various games (DOOM VFR, Skyrim VR, Subnautica, Superhot VR, Talos Principle VR) and navigation around virtual rooms.
Tracking works as promised, even on a lower-end VR laptop with a GTX 1050 Ti graphics card. However, tracking the Samsung HMD Odyssey+ is slightly less accurate than Rift or Vive. It's hard to pinpoint exactly why, but subjectively, virtual objects in Rift seem to remain firmer in place.
Like all Windows Mixed Reality hedsets, the odyssey+ hedset front panel has two cameras to monitor the room and controller. The cameras are mounted on the lower half of the headphones, approximately 4 cm from the other outer edges. Samsung has pointed the cameras toward the floor and on both sides at gentle angles to increase the area they can track. Inside-out monitoring cameras on headphones mean 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF) for your head.
In terms of controllers, Samsung's Windows Mixed Reality motion controllers are not dramatically different from Microsoft's controller design, but the changes Samsung has implemented make a big difference. Samsung's controllers still have a thumbpad and thumbstick, along with a trigger button, a hold button, a menu button, and a Windows button. The controllers also share a similar shape to its competitors, with a halo of LEDs attached to the controller handle. However, Samsung hasn't just rebranded a pair of reference controllers. The company picked up where Microsoft left off and made an impressive input device.
The shape of the handle is the first thing that can be noticed with Samsung controllers. The handles on Microsoft's reference controllers are somewhat square, which is not a comfortable shape to hold in your hand. Samsung's controllers are much more ergonomically shaped. The handles have soft, rounded edges and a larger volume, which prevented the cramps we encountered while using standard Windows MR motion controllers.
Samsung has also corrected the key layout of the standard controller to make its controllers more comfortable. Microsoft's design has a thunbstick and a touchpad placed side by side, but it was difficult to get both without adjusting the position of the hand. Samsung added a slight bend to the top of the controller, which allowed it to move the position of thumbsticks and trackpads, to make them easier to reach. The company has also re-calibrated the position of the trigger and grip buttons so that it is possible to reach each button from the natural holding position. The Windows key is the only one that is considered a bit uncomfortable to reach, but we'd rather deal with a small load of pressing that key than find ourselves in a situation where we regularly unintentionally squeeze it.
Integrated audio system
When Oculus released Rift, we learned firsthand the benefits of integrated sound on VR headphones. With built-in speakers, you don't need to juggle an extra device on your head and you have one less cable to tinker around you. And the built-in microphone ensures you always have access to voice communication.
Microsoft's basic Windows Mixed Reality HMD reference design doesn't include headphones or a microphone, which is a bit silly considering Cortana is woven into the Windows Mixed Reality platform and requires certified headphones to work properly. Most of Microsoft's headphone partners stuck to the reference configuration and didn't include headphones or a microphone. Samsung is seemingly the only Windows MR partner to take audio seriously. On Odyssey, he installed not one but two Cortana-compatible microphones, as well as a pair of AKG headphones with 3D spatial audio technology.
The headphones have multiple adjustment points that should allow everyone to fit comfortably. You can move the speakers up and down with a range of approximately 15 mm. You can also rotate your headphones forward or backward in the range of approximately 40 degrees. And the headphones are on the swivel ball joints, so they should sit straight on someone's ears.
The AKG headphones only have about 6 cm in diameter, but they give enough volume, and the sound they produce is sharp and clean. We wouldn't recommend using them at full power unless you want hearing impairment. Fortunately, you can adjust the sound level using the built-in volume controls located in the lower-right corner of the visor.
WMR plays Steam VR games for HTC Vive without any problems or solutions. The feeling is almost the same as when using the HTC Vive. In fact, Steam VR games appear in the WMR menu, making it easier to run them. To use SteamVR games, you simply need to install Steam, SteamVR, and Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR. Make sure you've started WMR home before launching SteamVR or any of its games, otherwise controllers won't be detected.
As for Oculus Rift games, WMR also plays them but with some restrictions. First, after installing Oculus, you need to install the free Revive tool . Secondly, to run oculus rift games, you need to run SteamVR. Then you'll see your Oculus Rift games on the SteamVR home screen, though there's no thumbnail. Third, WMR tracking for Oculus Rift games is significantly more demanding than for SteamVR games. Fourth, if you're recording a screen, it's an extra load on the computer.
Samsung is a well-known global brand, but still an outsider in the VR world, with Windows Mixed Reality users being a tiny minority of a minority, according to Valve. Regardless, the Samsung Odyssey+ offers a fantastic visual and audio experience making it the preferred choice of many users to all current computer-based hedsets. It doesn't outperform Rift in terms of ergonomics or Vive for broad area monitoring, but smooth immersion with Odyssey+ is more important for the VR experience.
For more information, visit Samsung's official website.