The next several months should see a big uptick in news on Virtual Reality, as major hardware providers roll out their latest headset offerings. Businesses and consumers will have a lot to choose from. Below, we’ll update you on the latest reports on the forthcoming Oculus Go, Lenovo Mirage, and Vive Focus headsets.
Beginning in early 2016, the VR headset market saw major expansion. Users had a headset for just about every use case: the Oculus Rift & HTC Vive for enterprise users, Samsung Gear VR & Google Daydream for mid-tier users, and Google Cardboard (and various generic plastic headsets) for entry-level users.
Each of these headsets has their own unique strengths — be it strong processing power, immersive spatial audio, mobility, ease of distribution, etc. But as virtual reality has seen more widespread adoption, so too has the desire for more headset options. Large industry players like Facebook/Oculus, Lenovo and HTC Vive are set to release in 2018 an array of new wearables.
Below we’ll preview each of the main standalone VR headsets coming out, with a focus on how they can best be leveraged for B2B use cases.
The Oculus Go headset has been eagerly anticipated since being announced in October 2017. A standalone headset, the Oculus Go is expected to cost significantly less than the Oculus Rift or the Samsung Gear VR, when you factor in the latter’s required Samsung phone. Unlike Gear VR, the headset is entirely self-contained, with no smartphone insertion or usage at all.
The Go will combine some of the best features of Gear VR, without some of the notable downsides (overheating, having to place the phone in the cradle, needing to generate an Oculus Signature File for each phone used).
- 2,560 x 1,440 display & up to 72 hz gives you great immersiveness for a mobile headset
- Completely standalone, meaning you’re not forced into buying a Samsung (Gear VR) or Daydream compatible phone to utilize
- Internal speakers make for better experience than using phone speakers for Gear VR or generic mobile headsets
- Price — lower total cost of ownership than Gear VR/Daydream, and considerably less than Rift or Vive
- 3 Degrees of Freedom (DoF), so total immersion fans will miss out on the extra three DoFs you get from Rift/Vive
- Requires WiFi access for streaming
Best Use Cases:
- Marketing/Sales Presentations: the headset is portable and easy to use, perfect for face-to-face meetings where you want to show off your VR
- Trade shows/Conferences: the reasonable price point means a company can easily afford 5 – 10 of these to distribute at high traffic events; unlike Gear VR, shouldn’t overheat and easy to switch from user to user
- Education: at college level, VR Labs will be smart to purchase a number of these, which allow for more users than a tethered Vive or Rift
Officially announced at CES 2018, the Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream is Lenovo’s first foray into the mass market of VR headsets. Like the Oculus Go, it’s an all-in-one standalone headset with no mobile phone required. The team at Lenovo is particularly focused on packaging the headset with the new 180-degree Lenovo Mirage camera, and are getting some marketing backing from Google, the makers of Daydream.
Lenovo Mirage is available for pre-order on Amazon with shipping on May 5. The cost will be $399 USD for the headset or $649 for the camera + headset bundle.
- 110-degree field of view exceeds Gear VR’s FOV by 9 degrees
- 4 GB of RAM is on par with Gear VR, and one more GB than Oculus Go is expected to have
- Mobile and easy-to-use, particularly when paired with the 180-degree camera
- The $399 price point is considerably less than you’d pay for Vive/Rift, when you factor in the computer and graphics card required for those headsets
- Distribution of applications still a little unclear, though tie-in to Daydream may mean Google Store is an option?
- It’s unknown if the 180-degree format (which InstaVR supports!) will be popular among users, so camera bundle might not provide much value
- Price likely to exceed that of similar Oculus Go
Best Use Cases:
- Training: the 180-degree camera & compatibility allows for rapid creation of training applications
- Education: because of Lenovo & Google’s strong ties to schools, there’s a belief that Mirage might see some traction in school districts that already purchase in bulk from Lenovo and/or Google
Just as Lenovo announced Mirage Solo availability at GDC 2018, Vive announced global availability for its Vive Focus. Already released in China, the Vive Focus isn’t expected to hit shelves in the US (and elsewhere) until this Fall though. The cost of the headset is roughly $600 USD in China, though no new pricing has been announced.
The headset marks Vive’s first foray into standalone headsets, but the existing HTC Vive and HTC Vive Pro are obviously very well-respected. And the Vive Focus has gotten strong reviews to date.
- Basically the same resolution as Gear VR, but with a potential 72 Hz refresh rate.
- The Micro SD slot is intriguing for packing an extra large amount of 8K VR video into the headset.
- 6 Degrees of Freedom. This is the big difference between other standalone headsets… but only if you’re going to build content for that specific feature, which most companies currently aren’t.
- Release date. Fall has been the suggested worldwide release, but that’s still a ways off and subject to change.
- Cost. Because of the 6 DoF, Vive is likely to charge a lot more than Oculus and Lenovo. If you don’t need 6 DoF though, do you really need to pay more for this headset than the competition?
Best Use Cases:
- Any experience that needs to be truly immersive, utilizing 6 DoF. This would be true of something like a high-end architecture rendering or a car prototype.
The Oculus Go will be making a lot of noise in the coming months. That’s largely due to the Oculus brand, the price point of the headset, and the fact that it’s likely to get a big marketing push. It’s definitely looking like it’s worth the investment. If you’re thinking of churning out a large number of 180-degree apps, the Lenovo Mirage might be the right direction to go. And if you’re doing filming or 3D rendering where 6 Degrees of Freedom is essential to the user experience, holding off for the Vive Focus in the Fall might make sense.
Regardless, it should be an exciting time for VR users and makers. More investment in headsets means a greater means of distributing content. And making that content has never been easier. Stay tuned to our blog for more headset updates as the companies release more info…