Hands-on with HoloLens: What the pundits are saying about HoloLens
It's nice to be surprised. It happens rarely in tech these days. Most launches are punctuated by strained excitement, hoopla and hyperbole. HoloLens seems different. Sadly, Microsoft's latest gagdet has only been fondled by a select few, but here's what they're saying about Microsoft's innovative AR headset.
Watch Microsoft's HoloLens video:
Paul Thurrott – "The possibilities here are actually pretty vast"
Famed Microsoft expert Paul Thurrott was initially sceptical, more so than most onlookers:
"It’s pretty clear that most of the Microsofties consider HoloLens to be a fist-pumping, high-fiving, game-winning surprise of epic proportions... [but] my initial reaction during the event presentation wasn’t super-positive."
However, he goes on to say that HoloLens is a product that needs "to be experienced to be fully-understood" adding that:
"I now believe HoloLens to be an innovation far more impressive than the voice and gesture capabilities of, say, Kinect. It really is pretty incredible."
He was particularly impressed with the Minecraft demo, describing how the Minecraft world was integrated with real world objects. He "blew up a space on the wall" and watched bats fly towards him in 3D, which he said was "really stunning".
ArsTechnica – "HoloLens is flat-out magical"
Peter Bright for ArsTechnica was stunned by HoloLens, saying that he felt like he'd "taken a step into the world of science fiction".
"It looked for every bit like the holographic projection we saw depicted in Star Wars and Total Recall. Except that's shortchanging Microsoft's work, because these virtual objects were in fact far more convincing than the washed out, translucent message R2D2 projected, and much better than Sharon Stone's virtual tennis coach. The images were bright, saturated, and reasonably opaque, giving the virtual objects a real feeling of solidity."
The Verge – "Microsoft's most intriguing product in years"
Dieter Bohn and Tom Warren were the lucky ones from The Verge to get hands-on with HoloLens, though their experience starts on an important point: that the four HoloLens demos were "heavily scripted" and "carefully managed". They were no less impressed than others, however, and called the demos "completely amazing".
Dieter Bohn was impressed with the Minecraft demo, saying: "But before you can apply your jaded "I've done VR before" attitude to this situation, you look down at the coffee table and there's a castle sitting right on the damn thing. It's not shimmery, but it's not quite real, either. It's just sitting there, perfectly flat on the table, reacting in space to your head movements. It's nearly as lifelike as the actual table, and there's no lag at all. The castle is there. It's simply magic."
Bohn and Warren also drew parallels with Oculus Rift, pointing out that they both need to solve "how to interact with virtual things" to become truly complete.
Engadget – "HoloLens could be something really special"
Ben Gilbert on Engadget provides a particularly insightful look at HoloLens, highlighting its potential but also stressing that Microsoft has a lot of development to do before it's ready for ordinary people. His description makes it sound very unlikely that HoloLens could possibly be available this year.
"Does it work? Yes, it works. Is it any good? That's a much harder question to answer. In its current state, HoloLens is a series of demos with varying levels of polish, meant to demonstrate the possibility of the device. More clearly: In its current state, HoloLens is far from ready for public consumption. It's an impressive demo in need of long-term investment, which Microsoft says is happening."
He also provides some useful insight into the actual hardware, albeit gleaned from observation rather than info Microsoft provided. It remains very tight lipped about the hardware.
"Instead of completely blocking out your vision, the dev kit headset has two clear lenses. A range of cameras sits out front -- somewhere between four and six, though I couldn't be completely sure. I tried asking Microsoft about specifics for the headset, from demonstrators to engineers to designers to PR people -- no one at Microsoft is speaking about the specifics of HoloLens just yet.