Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Lenovo Virtual Reality Headset: The Cheapest Microsoft Holographic VR Headest for People on Budget

Virtual reality was bound to be a big theme of this year's CES, and another big name is using the event to get into the space with a new, low-cost headset. Lenovo announced its own VR headset at CES—it doesn't have a name yet, but the company claims it will cost less than $400 when it's released later this year.
The affordable price is enough to make this intriguing, but the specs make things even more interesting. It's built to be smaller and lighter than both the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, weighing just 350g (the Vive weighs about 550g). The bulk of its weight lies against your forehead rather than on the bridge of your nose, which should make it more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. It also has a convenient hinge design, which lets you turn the headset portion up whenever you need to give your eyes a break without requiring you to remove the entire system.

The headset's display is made of two 1440×1440 panels, making it higher-res than both the Vive and the Rift. We would have liked to see this in action, but Lenovo only had a non-working prototype to show us. The company paired it with its new Legion Y720 gaming notebook, which is VR ready, and also showed off its new Entertainment Hub. This is basically a media library featuring VR-ready movies, games, and other content.
And its tracking works works very fine by utilising inside-out, six degrees-of-freedom tracking, which means there’s no external camera necessary, but the tech is yet to ship in a product and we’re not sure how Windows Holographic’s implementation will work out. Lenovo also isn’t producing any motion controllers for the headset, instead relying on third-party options that will be manufactured to the Windows Holographic specification.
As for what you’ll actually be able to do with this headset, Lenovo says that every Windows Store application will work in a theater-style floating viewer mode, and some HoloLens software will also be converted to the platform. Lenovo’s headset has two cameras on the front, meaning that mixed-reality applications are possible even without the HoloLens’ optical projection capability. (The image quality from those cameras is, of course, an open question.)
The still-unnamed headset will ship sometime this year for between $300 and $400 — Lenovo says the price isn’t set in stone but it’ll be “closer to $300.”
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