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Canon Japan is releasing a new mixed reality headset in February, and it’s predicted to come in at a steep $38,500. It’s much lower than their 2013 iteration, a $125,000 machine with a $25,000 annual maintenance fee, but it’s also much higher than any other competitor in the space, which caps out with the Varjo XR3 at $6,663 for the headset plus $1812 a year in subscription fees.

We can’t wrap our heads around this price point. Nothing seems to majorly differentiate the headset from its competitors, and from what we can tell, Canon has scrubbed all evidence of it’s old headset, the MREAL MD-20, from its U.S. website. We also find it interesting that they’re only selling the S1 in Japan for now.

Canon claims their simple interface and minimalist design make it possible for users of all levels to operate the device with relative ease. As Mixed Reality Developers for Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, we’re not sure how this could possibly account for the $35,000 difference in price.

How does it measure up technically?

The MREAL S1 is most similar to the Varjo XR 3 as it has both AR and VR capabilities and the same type of display method: the video see-through display method. Instead of actually seeing your physical surroundings with mixed reality components layered in--like in the HoloLens 2 and Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3--external cameras render video footage of your physical space combined with computer-generated images in real time.

While the video see-through display method does allow convenient adaptability for virtual reality in the same headset, the future of mixed reality is tied much more to consumer industries than this display method allows.

However, the field of view is far smaller than the Varjo XR3 at 115°, and even smaller than the HoloLens 2 at 52°, coming in at 45°. The latency is extremely low because of its display method, outpacing that of the HoloLens and the ThinkReality A3.

mreal vs hololens 2

It is the lightest available headset out there, and it has more versatility than other headsets since it can be detached from its head mounted display. We’re not entirely sure what significant purpose this serves, or if it could account for the massive price tag...but it does make it different from every other headset out there.

canon mreal

The HoloLens 2 has a feature that makes it different from every other headset out there: it’s ability to go cordless...but there’s a clear and significant purpose to this feature; it’s the intended future of the technology--other hardware developers just haven’t been able to nail it down in the way Microsoft has. The ThinkReality A3 glasses are the closest to tetherless as they’re able to connect to a mobile device and therefore are free from computer workstations.

Yet, the Microsoft HoloLens 2, with this industry leading feature, comes in at the lowest price compared to its competitors (though Lenovo’s glasses don’t have a price tag yet).

All in all, we still can’t understand why these glasses are so unbelievably expensive--though their target user is enterprise, and no one has the budget for cutting edge technology like large enterprises. We may see some pay for this headset, but we believe the HoloLens 2 or the Varjo XR3 are better products to begin with, not to mention their significantly lower price tags. Prove us wrong, Canon!