Samsung’s HMD Odyssey is the best way to experience Microsoft’s Mixed Reality


When Microsoft announced its entrance into the VR headset market, its partner products were attractive and relatively inexpensive, but didn’t live up to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive in terms of pure image quality and specs. Enter Samsung’s HMD Odyssey, a $499 headset that can compete with the best of them.

I’ve been living with the Odyssey for the past couple of months, spending many an hour immersed in Microsoft’s mixed reality world.

The Odyssey’s combination of some of the highest resolutions around and OLED technology makes it one of the more pleasant VR experiences I’ve tried. For comparison, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive both have 2160 x 1200 resolutions, while the Odyssey runs at 2880 x 1600. There’s a small amount of black smearing during dark scenes with a lot of motion, but that’s a problem OLED tech hasn’t been able to completely work out; I’ll compromise for the improved colors, sharpness and black levels.

The headset itself is super comfortable for short bursts, although the use of pleather means it can get warm during extended play sessions. I also took some issue with the headphones. They sound solid, but I wish I could remove them to more easily use my own headset. More annoyingly, it was difficult to get them to sit comfortably on my ears without finagling for the perfect fit.

Caveats aside, I’ve tried all of the current mixed reality headsets, and though some have advantages in the comfort and price department, the sheer improvement in image quality on Samsung’s headset make it worth the extra cost.

Of course, this would all be naught if the VR experience weren’t up to snuff, but Microsoft’s Mixed Reality portal is a glimpse of the future I want to live in. A somewhat unfinished and occasionally buggy glimpse, but the future nonetheless.

The good starts with the setup experience. As soon as I plugged in the HMD, Microsoft’s Mixed Reality Portal opened. I was prompted to pair the controllers, downloaded a few updates, then calibrated the headset to my room.

The whole process took less than 10 minutes and was surprisingly easy. Because the headset uses 3D mapping technically borrowed from the HoloLens, there was no need for setting up external cameras and extra wires – something I seriously appreciated in my cramped studio apartment.