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Many tech sites, including Engadget, The Verge, ZDNet, Next Reality, and CNET are reporting that Hololens 2 is “officially” shipping as of today as a price of $3,500 for the bare-bones hardware-only version. But before you whip out your wallet, you should be warned that you are probably not special enough to be able to buy one.
At least on the surface, this seems to be an announcement of shipping in name only as it looks like a face-saving release. After all, it has been over 8 months since Hololens 2 was announced and people were beginning to talk.
Microsoft has said for months that they have been shipping a limited number of units to key customers. So it is not clear what has changed with this “announcement” other than making it official that they are shipping limited quantities to very select customers. It not clear whether things like NDA’s have been released, as they would once a product is on sale to the public. We are still not seeing any teardowns, detailed information, or shot through the lens pictures and videos.
As I reported last month, this type of very limited roll-out is consistent with having manufacturing problems. The word on the street is that they are having serious reliability problems with the laser beam scanning engine. It is being spun by marketing that the demand has outstripped the supply, but this can because the supply is very limited.
I have seen several people comment that when they contact Microsoft they get the form letter response such as the one (see left) from Microsoft’s Alex Kipman’s twitter feed. And they are the “lucky ones,” as many others are reporting that Microsoft is not even answering them.
Quoting the letter, “The HoloLens 2 has been released November 7th. As is the case with many products that we develop at Microsoft, we have seeded the market with a small number of HoloLens 2 devices to gather feedback and ensure we are meeting our customer needs. While HoloLens 2 devices are now shipping to the customers that have been selected to give feedback, it is not available for purchase at this time.
We expect HoloLens 2 to remain constrained for several months. We can capture your interest and notify you when units become available to sell. If you have already submitted for pre-order status we would reach out to you once we are able to sell the product.“
Next Reality was reporting earlier in the day that Hololens 2 was “Generally Available” but later printed an update that it was a miscommunication. This kind of problem tends to happen face-saving type press releases that make the announcement sound like there is more to it.
Quoting Next Reality: “Update: While Microsoft PR told Next Reality in no uncertain terms that general availability of the HoloLens 2 would launch today, it appears this was a miscommunication as Microsoft Sales is now telling pre-order customers that while the HoloLens 2 is now officially shipping, they’re still working through their “substantial” backlog of pre-order interest before opening up general availability. If you have pre-ordered by filling out the form on the HoloLens 2 buy page, you’ll still have to wait for Microsoft to contact you to place your order once they’re ready to ship to you. We have asked Microsoft for an estimated timeline for pre-order fulfillment and are awaiting a response. Read on below for our original reporting on today’s launch, including some hands-on time with a production HoloLens 2.”
I suspect the term “General Availability” set off some alarm bells at Microsoft. This would cause people to think that they could actually buy one. It also could release people that have been holding back information under NDA.
In a recent article reviewing the Hololens 2, ITPRO made some critical comments about Hololens 2’s image quality. Quoting them directly below:
Viewing the holograms isn’t akin to viewing images on an LCD display. It’s quite a surreal experience in which the holographs’ borders are defined, yet their colours fuzz and jitter. It’s like viewing images through an old CRT monitor, in one sense, except for the ability to interact via tugs, pulls, pinches and taps. of software servicing the HoloLens 2.
As I have reported, my expectation based on other laser projectors I have seen and the scanning rate specification of the Hololens 2 is that there are going to be problems with the image quality. I have had verbal reports that there is flicker and that there are resolution issues, but this is the first public writing I have seen discussing “colours fuzz and jitter.” Unfortunately, there are zero “through the lens” pictures I can find of Hololens 2. If you know of any, please let me know.
I suspect that this announcement is going to cause Microsoft more problems than it solves. They don’t seem to have the quantities of units available to warrant a big announcement of “shipping.” They will be upsetting the customers that put their name in to buy a unit over 8 months ago. Now there will be a watch to see how long from this announcement until the units are flowing to companies outside a very select few. Frankly, it feels more like a Kickstarter than the way a major company should handle this type of announcement.
I’m curious has anyone outside of a few major companies received a Hololens 2. I’m also curious why there are no “through the lens” pictures. The lack of information suggests that there are very few units out in the wild and there are restrictions on what can be done with them.