Lenovo’s first all-in-one VR headset, released last week, is certainly not meant for those who just have a passing interest in virtual reality; it’s, in fact, meant for VR enthusiasts who don’t mind shelling out $400 for a virtual reality contraption which many would consider splurging on luxury you could well do without.
This Lenovo-Google collaboration is what you can call the halfway option between cheap phone-based headsets like the Google Daydream VR and the more elaborate options that need to be tethered to a PC, like the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift.
Lenovo has done a pretty impressive job as far as the design element of the headset goes – a pretty sleek and clever design, indeed, with a sturdy plastic head strap that wraps around the head and can be adjusted using the dial on the back of it to give you that perfect cozy fit.
The orientation of the headband can be further adjusted using the button on the bottom of the headset, making it even more comfortable for users, especially those who wear glasses.
As sturdy as the head strap is, the fact that it is semi-rigid makes it less portable than the Samsung Gear VR, or the recently released Oculus Go.
While the 5.5-inch Quad HD LCD screen is a common factor in most VR headsets, as they are more vibrant with faster refresh rates, the one on the Solo is specially built to minimize ghosting and it does a pretty good job of it, one has to say.
However, what’s really the biggest draw for the Mirage Solo is its WorldSense feature which allows apps to track your position in the real world and reflect those movements in virtual reality, made possible by two cameras integrated into the front of the headset, motion sensors inside the unit itself, not to mention the combined computer vision knowhow of both Lenovo and Google.
This effectively means that the Solo does not require any external sensors which, in turn, means that positional tracking can work almost anywhere.
However, the freedom of movement allowed will be app-specific; so, it’s really up to developers to create apps that can make the most of the Mirage Solo’s WorldSense feature – one of the main reasons why you’d want to buy the headset in the first place. As of now, most apps restrict you to a few feet, beyond which you get a notification to retreat to your allowed limit.
The Mirage Solo uses the same interface as Google’s phone-powered Daydream View and currently has some 250 Daydream apps, out of which about 40 will be soon upgraded to support WorldSense.
While the Solo uses the last generation Snapdragon 835 chipset and 4GB of RAM, the processor has been tweaked to run at higher clock speeds when required, making the apps run smoother than when you run them on a phone inside a Daydream View Headset.
While the Mirage Solo isn’t in the same league as tethered VR headsets like an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive, the difference in performance levels isn’t too big to worry about, thanks to the Solo’s strong selection of apps and, of course, the tweaks to the chipset.
The Solo’s battery gives you about 2½ to 3 hours of play time on a single charge and the 64GB of onboard storage is ample enough to download a good number of all those lovely apps you can find.
If you are okay to spend an additional $300 to relive memories in virtual reality, then you might want to consider the Lenovo Mirage camera, which is capable of capturing 180-degree photos.
The dual camera set up ensures that the photos you ultimately transfer to the Solo have an obvious sense of depth to them, which is all very good, but with a $300 price tag, you can’t really expect the camera to have too many takers, especially after spending $400 on the headset.
The Mirage Solo is a niche product and, as mentioned at the outset, if you don’t have anything beyond a fleeting interest in virtual reality, this is, probably, not meant for you.
Also, for $400 you are getting a product that’s twice as expensive as the Oculus Go, which is also a self-contained headset, independent of PCs and smartphones; however, the Solo definitely has more power under the hood as opposed to the Go.
Conversely, the Mirage Solo costs the same as the more powerful Oculus Rift, with a broader selection of apps, but the fact that the Rift requires a tethered connection to a PC balances things out.
With the Solo, what you lose out in terms of power and performance – which, in any case, is not too big to cause any major worries – you gain in flexibility and the freedom to move.
Mirage Solo specs
- Screen Type: 5.5-inch LCD
- Screen Resolution: 2560 × 1440 (QHD)
- Aspect ratio: 16:9
- Dimensions: D (140 mm), H (122 mm), W (68 mm)
- Weight: 648 g
- Refresh Rate: 75 Hz
- Field of view: 110 degrees
- Degrees of Freedom (DoF): 6
- Lens: Fresnel-Aspheric Optics
- OS/Software: Daydream 2.0, OOBE, ePOS, YouTube, Google Arts and Culture/Photos/Play Movies & TV/Street View
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR, APQ8098 Processor (1.80GHz)
- Power: Li-Po 4000 mAh battery, Usage Up to 2.5 hours
- Memory: 4GB RAM, 64 GB of Internal Storage, microSD Card Up to 256 GB
- Sensors: Dual 6-Degrees-of-Freedom, Tracking Cameras, P-Sensor, Gyroscope, Accelerometer, Magnetometer
- Built-in audio: Android N Pro Audio, 3.5mm Audio Jack
- Built-in mic: Dual Microphones
- VR dimensions: 204 mm × 269.5 mm × 179.86 mm
- Price: $399.99