LAS VEGAS—Lenovo's Mirage Solo is the first standalone Daydream View headset we've seen, and it's a huge leap forward for Google's VR system.
>Smartphone VR is awkward. There's no debating it. You have to shove your smartphone into a headset, there are some weird UI things about operating it once it's in there, and you get interrupted by notifications sometimes. It's really only for aficionados. So instead of relying on a phone like the Google Daydream View, the Mirage Solo uses its own smartphone-like hardware to produce a VR experience.
It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor with a 5.5-inch Quad HD LCD, 4GB of memory, and 64GB of storage, putting the Mirage Solo in line with high-end Android phones, in terms of hardware. It attaches to your Google Play account and lets you download VR apps. You can also use your smartphone to set up apps and content in your account and then watch them on the headset, which is the best of all possible user interfaces.
The standalone device looks like the Daydream View, with a fairly small visor held in place by a headband. It's certainly less bulky than the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset, a VR display designed to work with Windows 10 PCs.
The headset is quite comfortable, although it's bulky; comfort comes from the big brace that goes over your head. And strikingly, it has six degrees of freedom (6DOF), which means that, like with the HTC Vive but unlike with all smartphone VR so far, you can actually walk around in your VR experiences. With no cords! That's a huge leap forward, sometimes literally. You operate the VR world using the little Daydream remote, which is included with the headset and features a clickable trackpad and buttons for app selection, accessing the home menu, and adjusting volume.
>The Mirage Solo uses dual cameras for motion tracking, in addition to the usual combination of gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer. They can't provide you with a passthrough image of nearby walls, but can warn you when you're about to run into something.
This combination is similar to Windows Mixed Reality headsets, which also rely on outward-facing cameras to track headset position. It's likely a more accurate system than simply using motion sensors like with smartphone-based VR systems, though based on our tests with the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset it might not be as accurate as sensor beacon-based VR systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. However, the Mirage Solo's position tracking, called WorldSense, isn't necessarily the same as Windows Mixed Reality position tracking; we'll only conclusively find out how accurate and responsive it is when we get the Mirage Solo in for testing.
Its success is dependent, as always, on the software ecosystem. I played a snowboarding game that called on you to stand up to play, and then jump and duck for real when you ran into obstacles. I got a little nauseous, actually, from tilting my head to steer and ducking a lot, but that would probably happen in real snowboarding, too. Right now, I don't see people flocking to Daydream—or any smartphone-based VR system—because of the lack of games and apps available. There are going to be even fewer 6DOF games and apps. For this to work, we need to see more 6DOF Daydream headsets, and somebody needs to start writing stuff for them.
Lenovo Mirage Camera
Lenovo is also launching a VR camera to complement its new headset. The Lenovo Mirage Camera with Daydream is a compact device with twin 13MP sensors and fisheye lenses, capable of capturing a 180-degree field of view. It can capture footage compatible with Google's VR180 format, which enables easy uploading and sharing over YouTube and Google Photos.
The camera is a little white rectangle with no viewfinder. Initially, that's a little disconcerting, but then you realize that the 180-degree field of view is just taking a picture of whatever's in front of it. You can hook the camera up to a smartphone to use as a viewfinder, but then you're juggling one too many things. Buttons on the back let you toggle between still, movie, and livestreaming mode; it's very simple to use.
It's a little bit of a misnomer to call the Mirage Camera a "VR" camera. It's more like a 3D camera, from those old days when we used to take stereoscopic 3D photos. It has depth, but the 180-degree field of view feels very, very not VR—things and people fade in and out of the frame as they enter the field of view. You can't walk through your pictures, and it isn't even really worth turning your head, as all you see are the edges of the frame. Your VR headset, essentially, becomes a pair of fancy 3D glasses. And although the camera supposedly shoots at 30 frames per second, one of the sample videos I watched had skips and jerks, which Lenovo chalked up to early firmware.
The Mirage Camera will compete with 360 cameras, which give a much more complete VR experience. They're also much more of a pain to orchestrate, as you need to figure out where to put yourself in the frame. But I think that once you have a headset on, you might as well be able to look around.
Lenovo plans to ship both the Mirage Solo with Daydream and the Mirage Camera with Daydream in Q2 2018. The Mirage Solo will have a suggested retail price of $449.99 and the Mirage Camera a suggested price of $299.99.
Lenovo Smart Display
Lenovo's Smart Display fills the gap in Google's product lineup for a voice-enabled assistant with a screen, and wonder of wonders, it has YouTube. But before we say "move over, Echo Show," we'll want to see a more final model; Lenovo says the unit we saw is six months from retail.
Lenovo won't have the only Assistant-powered Smart Display; Google says they're coming from JBL, LG, and Sony as well, although we haven't actually seen any of those yet.
The Smart Display comes in two sizes, 8-inch and 10-inch. Both have big speakers and a sort-of folded stand for a back. The smaller one's back has a gray rubbery texture, while the bigger one has a classy bamboo paneling.
The displays run Assistant over Android Things, and you can say "Hey Google!" to ask questions or run routines. That's where things in our demo got a little mysterious. The displays were in a fixed-function demo mode, and lots of aspects of the software weren't set yet.
We know they'll play music from Google Play and video from YouTube; read and show recipes; show directions from Google Maps; answer internet queries; and video chat using Google Duo, for instance. But support for other video services is up in the air, and Google hasn't yet figured out how third parties will write actions for the screen (although they certainly will be able to.) Will they have a night mode, so they can be used as an alarm clock? We don't know that, either.
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The displays are definitely more imposing than an Echo Show, and much larger than an Echo Spot. They reminded me much more of kitchen tablets or digital picture frames than the blocky Show or alarm-clock-like Spot does. They speak to rooms with big, airy spaces, not cramped little apartments.
With another half-year to go before we see the Smart Displays, they seem to currently serve as a way for Google to say, "hey, we're going to compete with the Echo Show!" than a product we can actually recommend buying yet. We'll be very interested to see their final form this summer.
Source : https://www.pcmag.com/news/358327/hands-on-lenovos-mirage-standalone-vr-headset-camera