Lenovo is one of the OEM partners teaming with Microsoft to bring affordable, PC-based VR to the masses in 2017 on Redmond's Windows Holographic platform. While functional demos will have to wait, we handled the headset and chatted with Lenovo about the upcoming product.
While the headset will have a brand name by the time it launches later this year, for now it's known as "Lenovo's VR headset." What it lacks in current naming punch, it makes up for in wearability: Hanging down from your forehead and weighing less than the Rift or Vive, I found it to be the most comfortable PC headset to date. Imagine a lighter and more compact PSVR.
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While the headset is wired, it will include inside-out positional (neck-down or body) tracking via cameras on the front of the headset, no external sensors required. It will support room-scale VR. Without any live demos at CES, though, we still need to consider its tracking effectiveness (as well as optics and overall performance) a question mark.
The Windows Holographic platform is currently associated with HoloLens, but unlike Microsoft's headset, Lenovo's is aimed squarely at full virtual reality, rather than mixed or augmented reality. The company says the product's sensors are intended more for tracking and visual boundaries (similar to the HTC Vive's Chaperone and Oculus Rift's Guardian) than giving the wearer a live view into their real surroundings.
A Lenovo representative told us that the minimum specs of the headset's paired PC may fall into a similar range as those of the Rift and Vive. From what we understand, though, the long-term goal of the Windows Holographic platform is to support quality PC VR experiences with cheaper parts, and we'd expect Lenovo to share that same goal.
The as-yet-unnamed headset will fall into the US$300-400 range when it launches this year, with Lenovo saying it wants to "get it as close to $300 as possible." Compared to the $599 Rift and $799 Vive (which also includes motion controls), an under-$400 rival with fully-integrated tracking and leading ergonomics sounds like a sweet alternative, at least on paper. We'll look forward to testing this with a more active demo in the near future.
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