Released in 2019, the Microsoft HoloLens 2 is one of the most popular of all augmented reality headsets on the market. But is the headset also the best on the market? In this review, we will compare it with the Magic Leap 1, the HoloLens 2’s biggest competitor.
In this comprehensive review we will take a deeper look at the following points:
- Pros and cons
- What is in the box
- Design and comfort
- Ease of use
Pros and cons of the Microsoft HoloLens 2
|Saves spatial mapping in the cloud||Display is sensitive to sunlight or bright light|
|High resolution and FoV||Only 2-3 hours of active battery life|
|Excellent navigation through hand control|
|Support for Microsoft's extensive productivity platforms|
Specifications of the HoloLens 2
The Microsoft HoloLens 2 has the following specifications:
- Resolution: 1440×936 pixels per eye
- Optics: Waveguide (binocular)
- Field of view: 43 degrees horizontal
- Camera: 8 MP, 1080 30fps video
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 850
- Memory: 64 GB
- RAM: 4 GB
- Weight: 566 grams
- Controls: Hand gestures, Eye-tracking, Headmotion, Voice with Cortana natural language
- Battery life: 2-3 hours of active use
What is in the box
The Microsoft HoloLens 2 comes in an elegant black box. Inside the box, the AR headset is placed in a very nice and handy case. This is ideal for protecting the headset from scratches and damage during transport.
The entire scope of delivery of the HoloLens 2:
- Microsoft HoloLens 2
- Head strap
- USB-C cable
- Microfiber cloth
Design and comfort
When you hold the HoloLens 2 in your hand, you immediately notice how well-made the device is. It comes in an elegant black and looks very professional and aesthetically pleasing.
The headband of the HoloLens 2 has a transparent visor at the front. The headset’s displays are also built into this visor. A total of 6 different cameras (4 tracking cameras, 1 RGB and 1 depth camera) are located here, which ensure that the HoloLens can always see and map every corner of the room.
The visor can also be easily flipped up and down without having to remove the AR headset. This is a big advantage over the Magic Leap 1, where you have to remove the entire headset if you no longer want the display in front of your eyes.
On the back of the headband is the battery, as well as a knob for adjusting the headband. Due to the battery on the back, the 566 grams of weight sit very well distributed on the user’s head.
For comparison, Magic Leap’s device only weighs 316 grams. This is due to the fact that the processor is installed in an external so-called Light Pack. The processor can be attached to the pants pocket and is connected to the headset via cable. The advantage of the HoloLens 2 is that it is a completely standalone device that does not require any additional equipment or cables to be connected.
Ease of use
Before you can use the HoloLens 2, you have to map the room you are in with the device. This makes the headset scan the environment and create a 3D copy of the room. These are stored by the device in the cloud, so a room does not have to be re-mapped each time. The initial mapping is faster and better with HoloLens 2 than with Magic Leap 1, which requires you to get closer to objects for the device to detect them.
Using the Microsoft HoloLens 2 is simple and intuitive via hand control. You can navigate through the HoloLens 2 by tapping the menus floating in front of you. This feels very unfamiliar at first and you miss pressing the buttons of a controller. However, you get the hang of it after a short time, and from then on, the hand control is simply fascinating and fun. The Magic Leap has a hand controller for comparison, which is used to operate the device. This makes it easier to use for beginners at first, since most are used to using controllers.
The HoloLens 2 also offers voice control as an additional input option. This is very helpful in some situations, especially in combination with the eye tracking. For example, you can look at a certain open window and say “close” to close it. For workers who need their hands for other work tasks, voice control can become an important tool. However, as soon as background noise is added, the HoloLens 2 does not understand you as well, which can lead to frustration.
The binocular waveguide display of the Microsoft HoloLens 2 has 1440×936 pixels per eye, a bit more than the 1280×960 pixels per eye of the Magic Leap. However, we have to say that the resolution still has a lot of room for improvement, because the screen door effect is still clearly visible in the HoloLens 2.
|HoloLens 2||Magic Leap 1|
|Resolution||1440×936 pixels per eye||1280×960 pixels per eye|
|Refresh rate||60 Hz||122 Hz|
|Field of view||43 degrees horizontal||40 degrees horizontal|
The camera of the Microsoft HoloLens 2 is located in the front center of the visor and has a resolution of 8 megapixels and is able to record videos with 1080p and 30 frames per second. With the camera, users can capture footage of the 3D objects they are watching in augmented reality. The camera allows the HoloLens 2 to always see exactly what the user sees. This is very useful for remote support applications, for example, where an external expert can look over the worker’s shoulder and give instructions from a distance.
However, if your company is looking purely for a remote support solution, we can recommend smart glasses such as the RealWear Navigator 500 or the Vuzix M400. The Smart Glasses differ from the HoloLens 2 in that they only have a monocular, non-transparent LCD display that sits below the field of view in front of one of the two eyes.
The Microsoft HoloLens 2 has two tracking cameras installed on the left and right front of the visor. These provide the AR headset with the necessary information to know where it is positioned in the room. In fact, the HoloLens 2’s position tracking works surprisingly well. When you place a 3D object in the room and move around it, there is hardly any wobble and the object remains very stable in the room, as if it were really there. There is significantly more “drift” (jittering or sliding 3D elements) on the Leap One compared to the HoloLens 2, which affects productivity.
In addition to position tracking, the HoloLens 2, just like the Magic Leap, also uses the cameras to track your hands. Since the device doesn’t have a controller, it’s especially important that this works well, and indeed it does. The hand tracking is totally fascinating, by just tapping on the menu items that hover in front of you, the HoloLens 2 can be navigated with your fingers in the air.
Another feature of the HoloLens 2 is the eye tracking. This is very useful, for example, when you want to close a certain window hands-free. You simply look at a given window and then say “close”. Thanks to the HoloLens 2’s eye tracking, the device knows which window is being looked at and closes it. Eye tracking can also become an important component for enterprise applications, for example, to find out where a user is looking at during a training session and thus measure the success of the training.
The Microsoft HoloLens 2 has two speakers built into the headband, one on each side at ear level. The quality is pretty good considering that the speakers are so small, the sound is loud and clear. However, a drawback is that the HoloLens 2 does not have a 3.5 mm audio jack, so you cannot connect headphones.
The Magic Leap 1 also has a speaker built-in on each side. However, an audio jack is additionally installed on the Lightpack, which can be used to connect headphones to the device.
The Microsoft HoloLens 2 currently costs 3588 Euros and is thus significantly more expensive than the Magic Leap 1. The Magic Leap 1 can be purchased already for 2499 Euros. Both AR headsets are available at VR Expert.
Overall, the Microsoft HoloLens 2 is the best AR headset on the market and offers undisputedly the best position tracking. 3D objects hardly wobble when moving and remain super stable, which makes viewing much more realistic. In addition, the hand tracking works extraordinarily well; it is really fun to navigate through the menu of the HoloLens 2 with just the fingers.
However, there are still some annoying factors considering the hefty price of 3588 Euros. The display is very sensitive to light and besides the screen door effect, you also often see rainbow colors on the display. Also, the field of view is still very small, so when you get closer to 3D objects, you see the limits of the display, which spoils the AR experience. This is a shortcoming the AR industry has and will address in the future.
The main advantages of the HoloLens 2 over its biggest competitor, the Magic Leap 1, are that Microsoft’s device has very good weight distribution and does not require a wired additional processing unit like the Magic Leap’s Light Pack. In addition, the display is a bit sharper and has a larger FoV. However, especially for use cases that involve fast movement, the Magic Leap 1 has the advantage of having a refresh rate of 122 Hz, which is twice as high.
Furthermore, the Magic Leap 2 will soon be available, which will have even more improved features. And it will also remain exciting to see how other major companies, such as Meta, Samsung or Apple, position themselves in the augmented reality market in the near future.
Depending on your company’s use case, either the HoloLens 2, the Magic Leap 1, or even another AR device could be an option. Let us advise you and contact us now!
Microsoft HoloLens 2
Magic Leap 1
1440×936 pixels per eye
1280×960 pixels per eye
Field of view
43 degrees horizontal
40 degrees horizontal
8 MP, 1080p 30fps
2 MP, 1080p 30fps
Qualcomm Snapdragon 850
3-core NVIDIA Parker SOC
4 GB DRAM
Hand gestures, eye tracking, head motion, voice with Cortana natural language
Voice, eye tracking, hand tracking, controller