Lenovo's Mirage Solo is the world's first Google-powered standalone VR headset

Daniel Howley

Lenovo today announced the world’s first self-contained virtual reality headset powered by Google’s Daydream VR platform. The headset, called the Lenovo Mirage Solo, will be available in the second quarter of 2018 and cost less than $400 when it hits the market.

But unless that price is as low as Facebook’s (FB) upcoming standalone headset, the Oculus Go, priced at $199 and scheduled for release in early 2018, Lenovo could have serious trouble moving units. I tried out the Mirage Solo and the most impressive aspect of it was just how comfortable it was to wear.

Seeing through the Mirage

The Mirage Solo features a 5.5-inch LCD display with a resolution of 2,560 pixels x 1,440 pixels. That’s about 1,280 pixels x 1,440 pixels per eye. Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, both of which need to be connected to computers, offer resolutions of 1,200 pixels x 1,080 pixels. Don’t expect the Mirage Solo’s visuals to look crystal clear, though. Images were relatively sharp, but fine details still looked  pixelated as they do on every other headset on the market.

Lenovo’s Mirage takes advantage of Google’s WorldSense inside-out tracking software, which translates your movements in the real world into the digital. Microsoft (MSFT) also offers a similar technology in its Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Both forms of tracking eliminate the need for the kind of clunky sensors and cameras used by the likes of the Rift, Vive and Sony’s (SNE) Playstation VR headsets.

What struck me the most about Lenovo’s hardware, though, was how comfortable it felt. I truly feel like I could wear it for long periods of time without issue, which isn’t something I can say about its competitors. The Mirage Solo’s visor portion was more than roomy enough to fit my glasses, a frequent issue I run into with other VR headsets, and the cushioning was fantastic.

The Mirage’s lenses fogged up after I wore it for a bit, but that’s a problem I run into with every headset I’ve used, and doesn’t seem to be an issue for other people I’ve spoken to who use VR headgear.

Daydream VR

Google’s (GOOGL, GOOG) Daydream VR platform is already available on a number of Android smartphones, though to use it you have to strap your handset into a Daydream View headset, which costs an additional $99. Samsung uses a similar model with its $129 Gear VR headset, though that uses Facebook’s Oculus software.

The idea behind Lenovo’s Mirage is to provide you with a better overall experience thanks to its high-resolution display, as well as its use of the Google’s WorldSense tracking software, something not available on smartphones.

Outside of that it appears as though the standalone and phone-based versions of Daydream VR will run the same software. That means you’ll get access to services like Netflix (NFLX) VR, YouTube VR, Hulu, HBO GO VR and a number of other VR games and experiences.

The problem, though, is that, like other VR headsets, there still isn’t a killer app for Daydream VR. Sure, being able to watch Netflix in VR is interesting, but that’s not going to move units, especially with the Mirage’s expected sub-$400 price tag. Until we get a real VR app or game that grabs the attention of mainstream consumers, VR won’t move the needle much for Lenovo or Google.

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Email Daniel at dhowley@yahoo-inc.com; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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