Samsung Odyssey hands-on review

Samsung’s Odyssey is the Windows Mixed Reality headset to own

Samsung’s Odyssey stands head and shoulders above its Mixed Reality peers.
Samsung’s Odyssey stands head and shoulders above its Mixed Reality peers.
Samsung’s Odyssey stands head and shoulders above its Mixed Reality peers.


  • High-res OLED screens
  • Larger field of view
  • Manual pupil adjustment
  • Built-in speakers


  • Costs marginally more than competitors

Windows Mixed Reality will support five different headsets at launch, which puts would-be buyers into a familiar pickle for any Microsoft fan: Which device should you buy when they all seem more or less the same?

Samsung offered an easy solution on October 3 when it introduced the Odyssey: Just spend an extra $50 and get the good one.

Better in every way

The first Mixed Reality headsets Microsoft announced ranged between $350 and $450, and each one boasted the same 1,440 x 1,440 resolution in each eye, and 95-degree field of Vision. Essentially, you’re choosing between a Pontiac Grand Am, an Oldsmobile Alero, and a Chevy Malibu, which is to say: multiple rebadged versions of the same painfully average thing. Sure, the Dell comes in white and the Lenovo in black, but beneath the hood, the same engine’s humming.

You’re really more of a sucker not to get it.

Samsung just pulled a Cadillac with the Odyssey. At $500, it’s undeniably more expensive than any of its peers, but the negligible premium buys you so many important upgrades that you’re really more of a sucker not to get it.

What kind of upgrades? Let’s start with the 1,440 x 1,600 resolution OLED screens. They have more pixels than the competition, and they’re OLED instead of LCD, which means blacker blacks, more vibrant color, and in our experience, silkier motion. Tiny boosts in resolution may be moot point on a 5-inch phone screen these days, where we’re reaching the limits of human perception, but spread across your entire field of view, more pixels matter. First-gen VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive still produce a visible “screen door effect,” and every extra line of pixels makes it less severe.

The Odyssey also has a physical knob to adjust for the difference between your pupils. Yes, the others are “one size fits all” units that only attempt to compensate for differences in human anatomy with software. Only the Samsung allows you to manually adjust the differences between the eye pieces with an easy-to-use knob that you turn until images look their sharpest, like at the eye doctor. It also boasts a 110-degree field of view, which bests the 95 degrees offered by nearly every other competitor — the Acer headset also features a 110-degree field of view.

In practice, the Samsung not only looked sharper than its peers, it produced less of the noticeable haze that appears around bright spots in your peripheral vision in VR goggles, and felt more fluid as we looked around. Maybe that’s the OLED screens. Maybe it’s the 110-degree field of vision. Maybe it’s the manual adjustment. We’re not optical engineers, but we can say without hesitation that Samsung’s headset looks better than any of its peers, particularly when viewing the type of detailed content (like text) that you’re liable to view in Windows Mixed Reality.

As if you needed any icing on the VR cake, the Odyssey comes with built-in AKG headphones. These seem like a small detail, particularly if you already own headphones you like, but the convenience of having them built into the headset is greater than you may anticipate. Putting headphones on top of a VR headset means carefully assembling and disrobing a VR ensemble every time you take them on and off. There’s an order of operations to remember, like taking your shoes off before your pants. With the headphones built in, you just take the entire thing on and off. One movement. Nothing to remember.

Just get it

In case you haven’t picked up on our advice by now: Samsung’s Odyssey is the Mixed Reality HMD to own. Not only does it best its peers, it may even rival the best-in-class HTC Vive.

We’re not ready to definitely declare that until we have both in-office for review, but in the meantime, we’ll point out that the Samsung has better resolution, doesn’t require tracking towers, and it’s $100 cheaper, even after recent Vive price cuts.


Ride through the sky and get fit on the fly with the NordicTrack VR Bike

During CES 2019, we tried the NordicTrack Virtual Reality Bike. Combining fitness and gaming, the bike is one of the most interesting approaches to VR traversal we’ve seen. 
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.

These are the coolest virtual and augmented reality gadgets from CES 2019

CES 2019 had plenty of VR and AR gadgets on display, including headsets that completely change how you experience virtual reality, and some that don't even require a PC or a phone to run.

The best VR headsets at CES 2019 could bring the technology to the mainstream

While there weren't a ton of new VR headset on display at CES 2019, the ones we saw led us to believe that VR could have a real moment soon, both from a gaming and business standpoint.

Microsoft will end support for Windows 7 one year from now

Microsoft is set to end extended support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020, putting a halt on the free bug fixes, and security patches for most who have the operating system installed. 

This ‘computer mouse’ sets the new size standard for portable computing

The Raspberry Pi is an amazingly capable little computer and it's small enough that it can fit just about anywhere. Even in a computer mouse — if you're willing to build a custom chassis for it.

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for January 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

Change your mouse cursor in Windows with these quick tips

The standard mouse cursor is boring, so change it! With this guide on how to change your mouse cursor in Windows, you can choose to use one of Microsoft's pre-installed cursors or download something a bit more extravagant.

Go hands-free in Windows 10 with speech-to-text support

Looking for the dictation, speech-to-text, and voice control options in Windows 10? Here's how to set up Speech Recognition in Windows 10 and use it to go hands-free in a variety of different tasks and applications within Windows.

Printing to PDF in Windows is easy, no matter which method you use

Microsoft's latest operating system makes it easier than ever to print to PDF in Windows, but there are alternative methods for doing so, even if you want to forgo Adobe Acrobat. Here's how.

Changing a PDF into an EPUB file is easier than you might think

If you like to read on a tablet or ebook reader, you'll find that ePUB files offer a number of advantages over PDFs. With this guide, we'll show you how to convert a PDF to EPUB in a few quick steps.

Need to combine a PDF? Here's how to get it done on both Windows and Mac

Sometimes juggling multiple files at once is more of a hassle than a convenience, especially when a single file would do. This quick guide will teach you how to combine PDF files on Windows, MacOS, or with online tools.

Don’t even bother with the rest. Here are the only laptop brands that matter

If you want to buy your next laptop based around a specific brand, it helps to know which the best brands of laptops are. This list will give you a good grounding in the most reliable, quality laptop manufacturers today.

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.