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Microsoft HoloLens review
HoloLens offers a unique AR experience. It's great build quality and attention to detail are pluses, and the application potential seems limitless. It's now a matter of whether Microsoft can fix some nagging issues, and how much it will cost regular folks.
- Design 90%
- Quality 100%
- Sound 80%
- Hands-free 90%
- Battery life 50%
- Easy to fit properly 50%
- Still glitchy 30%
HoloLens, Microsoft’s augmented reality (AR) viewer, feels like the future of computing.
Being upfront, the headgear that I tried at Build 2015 was “early development hardware,” and it definitely felt that way. But the potential, and how close HoloLens is to achieving it, is simply remarkable.
Microsoft didn’t allow cameras inside the Build 2015 HoloLens demo room. These images are of a HoloLens inside a glass case that was just outside.
The moment I tried on HoloLens during a “Holographic Academy” session with fellow journalists, I thought, “This is like having a PC on my face.” It’s not quite that functional yet, but that’s how the headgear, and what you see and can do with it, makes me feel.
There was no gaming in the session I attended, like we’ve seen since (more on that later). Instead, I was a developer for 90 minutes, crafting an app in Unity and adding HoloLens functions as I went.
With every new function added, like gesture controls and spatial sound, I witnessed how it translates into the HoloLens experience. The session aimed to show how easy it is to develop for HoloLens, but it also demonstrated what you and I will experience once it’s out.
But, before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s hit the latest news around HoloLens.
HoloLens is essentially comprised of two rings: a thicker, plastic outer one that contains the guts and a slimmer, cushioned inner one that wraps your head. The inner ring’s fit adjusts by sliding forward and backward a roller residing on its back.
That cushioning is a small touch, but one I appreciate for making it easier to forget you’re wearing the viewer and focus on the AR imagery in front of you.
The device isn’t supposed to sit on your nose, but I found its rubber nose guard to inevitably fall down my nose no matter how often I pried the HoloLens forward. Thankfully, it’s optional and comes off easily. HoloLens feels a lot better for me with it off.
It looks like it belongs in the office but would blend well in any living room.
I also struggled to get HoloLens to fit every time I put it on. I had to regularly re-tighten, re-situate and realign the headgear. When everything fit nicely, the AR imagery was in full view and it felt right. But if it was too tight, too high up or too far forward, my experience was hindered.
Standing still made for the best overall viewing experience. The adjustment issues cropped up especially when I would move around, effectively defeating the point in HoloLens.
If you have short hair or it’s pulled back, you might not have as much trouble as someone with long, loose hair, like myself. It may have been my ability to adjust, but I had a slight headache after I took HoloLens off, like I had been wearing a baseball cap that was two sizes too small.