HoloLens 2 could pack a Qualcomm chip for ‘extended reality’

The next version of Microsoft’s HoloLens headset for augmented reality will supposedly feature Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon XR1 processor. The rumor arrives by way of an anonymous source who claims the second-generation headset packing the XR1 chip, currently dubbed HoloLens 2, will make an appearance in January 2019. That means we could see the headset’s debut in six months during the CES 2019 show in Las Vegas. 

Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon XR1 processor in late May, a mobile chip optimized for extended reality (XR), an umbrella term that covers augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality. The chip targets mainstream devices, or rather affordable products, to provide high-quality XR experiences without having to invest in high-priced hardware. The chip is mostly optimized for augmented reality powered by artificial intelligence. 

That said, unlike Qualcomm’s other Snapdragon-branded chips, the XR1 isn’t meant for smartphones. Instead, companies including Meta, HTC’s Vive division, Pico, and Vuzix have already jumped on the XR1 bandwagon to produce new products, such as the next-generation Vuzix Blade headset for augmented reality. Microsoft wasn’t mentioned during Qualcomm’s XR1 announcement, but speculation points to a possible hush-hush until the official HoloLens 2 reveal next year. 

Currently, Microsoft has two HoloLens bundles: the $5,000 Commercial Suite and the “cheaper” $3,000 Development Edition. Based on the prices alone, neither are meant for mainstream use. The Development Edition is designed for individual augmented reality application developers although the headset is used extensively in medical, retail, manufacturing, and other industries. The Commercial Suite adds enterprise-focused features like remote management to the developer-focused bundle. 

HoloLens made its debut in March 2016 packing an Intel “Cherry Trail” processor running at 1GHz, 2GB of system memory, 1GB of memory dedicated to an embedded Holographic Processing Unit, a 2.4MP camera, and 64GB of storage. More than two years later, we have yet to see a second-generation unit although previous rumors pointed to the next version, codenamed Sydney, launching in the first quarter of 2019. 

Previous rumors also expected the next-generation HoloLens to include Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chip, which is currently making its way into smartphones such as Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus. But now that Qualcomm officially revealed the Snapdragon XR1, this latter chip makes more sense for Microsoft. Either way, the company appears to be moving toward an ARM-based headset, ditching Intel’s x86-based platform.  

Qualcomm and Microsoft already have a newfound alliance with their “always connected” initiative. They created a Windows 10 platform based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors that promises notebooks with a high performance, long battery life beyond 20 hours, a constant internet connection thanks to 4G LTE connectivity and an affordable price. The HoloLens 2 could be part of that initiative. 

If Microsoft takes the Snapdragon XR1 route with its next HoloLens, the company is already set software-wise thanks to Windows on ARM. This is a version of Windows 10 that works on ARM-based processors, which “speak a different language” than CPUs produced by AMD and Intel. It’s Microsoft’s second attempt at supporting ARM-based hardware after Windows RT failed to win customers over during the Windows 8 era. 

Computing

AMD Ryzen CPU prices get slashed ahead of Ryzen 3000 release

AMD's Ryzen CPUs have had their prices slashed as we edge towards the release of their third generation. Whether you're a gamer or someone who needs multi-threaded performance, there's a deal for everyone with some heavy discounts to take…
Gaming

Wired headphones are so 2018. Here's how to pair a Bluetooth device to your PS4

One of the best aspects of modern consoles is how easily you can pair them with other devices. Here's our quick primer on how to connect a Bluetooth headset (or really any Bluetooth device) to your PlayStation 4.
Trash

Experience true immersion with these top-notch PS4 headsets

You don't have to stick with a shoddy headset because it came bundled with your console. These are the best headsets for the PlayStation 4, whether you're in the market for virtual surround sound or merely a comfortable build.
Mobile

Breaking news: Samsung responds to reported Galaxy Fold display issues

The Samsung Galaxy Fold has arrived, and it goes on sale soon. Folding out from a 4.6-inch display to a tablet-sized 7.3-inch display, this unique device has six cameras, two batteries, and special software to help you use multiple apps.
Gaming

Everything we know about the PS5, including its impressive hardware specs

PlayStation 5 rumors have circulated for over a year, but there's still plenty we don't know. Here's everything you need to know about the PS5, including rumors about its release, specs, and games.
Computing

The number pad on HP’s Chromebook 15 makes spreadsheet work a breeze

HP's Chromebook 15 comes with a 15.6-inch display, a metal keyboard deck with full-size keys, and a dedicated number pad, making it the second Chromebook model, following Acer's Chromebook 715, to be suited for spreadsheet work.
Computing

AMD’s 2020 Ryzen CPUs could have a big boost in power efficiency

The sequel to AMD's Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 CPUs is slated for a 2020 release and when it arrives, could leverage the new Zen 3 architecture to deliver impressive gains to performance and power efficiency.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Computing

Here's how you can download the best free music players for your Mac

Tired of your Mac's default music player? Take a look at our picks for the best free music players available for your Apple rig. Whether you're a casual listener or an audiophile, you're sure to find something that fits your needs here.
Computing

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.
Gaming

Transform into the ultimate leader with our tips and tricks for Civilization 6

Civilization VI offers both series veterans and total newcomers a lot to chew on from the get-go. Here are some essential starting tips to help you master the game's many intricacies.
Computing

The iPhone’s Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts could land on Macs this year

For its desktop computers, it appears that Apple may continue to draw from the iPhone for inspiration. iOS 12 features, like Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts, are believed to be making their way to MacOS this year at WWDC in June.
Computing

Dell slashes prices of XPS 13 and Alienware 17 laptops in latest promo

Dell's latest promotion will score you big savings on the XPS 13 or the Alienware 17. The stylish XPS 13's discount is for $430, and only the rose gold model is on sale, while gamers who choose the Alienware 17 will save $860.