There have been a lot of announcements at CES, everything from refrigerators that are now computers to humidifiers that can be controlled with a digital assistant. One type of technology, which has been around for a few years, is the VR headset and this year, Lenovo announced the Mirage Solo which is a wireless Daydream headset.
The AR/VR field is quickly becoming saturated with many different competitors from those that use Microsoft’s Mixed Reality to the Vive and Oculus as well. But Google’s product has slowly been growing and with the announcement of the Mirage Solo, the next generation of VR headsets may finally be able to start to crack the nut that is the casual user.
I got a chance to try out the Mirage Solo and it’s honestly pretty good. The fact that it is wireless and is fully self-contained (you don’t need a smartphone to use it) means that you can pick it up and use the device without much hassle. Lenovo claims that you can get up to 7 hours of usage out of the device which is more than most will ever use in a single instance.
Unfortunately, it’s quite hard to show the optics of the device unless you are wearing it but I can tell you that the six-degree physical space tracking mechanism works exceptionally well (Google calls this Inside-Out tracking) and that the display is bright with a quick response time. As for the actual image quality, I would put this on-par with the first gen HTC Vive; I was quite impressed with how good a wireless headset can perform.
The headset was comfortable and while I was only able to use the device for about 10 minutes, it did not feel heavy on my head nor did it get hot. The materials are plastic but the device feels well-made and the controller worked seamlessly with the headset; I didn’t experience any input lag.
I was able to watch a video in VR and explore 360 photographs but the best experience was the skiing game that worked by physically moving around to control the character. The downhill race was excellent and for the first time with a headset like this, I did get a bit nauseated; neither with Hololens or my Vive have I ever experienced this. I think it was because the game was fast-paced and involved a lot of virtual-elevation change but at the same time, the game was a lot of fun.
With a price somewhere around the $400 mark, it’s not going to be cheap and I still expect this hardware to be for the enthusiast crowd at this point. But the fact that VR headsets are now fully-self contained and wireless is the next stepping stone towards mass adoption of this technology.
I am optimistic that as these devices progress and the price is lowered, they will become more widespread as this is a unique way to explore content. I know that it’s not for everyone but I have grown to enjoy VR and while it’s not perfect yet, the long-term outlook is positive.