At the ongoing CES 2017, Lenovo showed off a prototype of its first virtual reality headset, powered by Microsoft's Windows Holographic platform.
Upon its release, the unnamed virtual reality headset will challenge the current leading devices in the industry, namely the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Does it look like it has what it takes to succeed?
Lenovo VR Headset Compared With Oculus Rift, HTC Vive
One of the most notable differences between Lenovo's virtual reality headset and competitors such as the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive is that Lenovo's device is lighter and smaller. According to Lenovo, the target weight of the headset is about 350 grams, which is considerably lighter than the weight of the HTC Vive at 555 grams.
The Lenovo headset also only has two cables that are running out of it, compared with the several cables that are connected to other virtual reality headsets. The design of Lenovo's device is also said to be a comfortable fit for users, as it seems to have been inspired by the design that Sony used for the PlayStation VR wherein the headset's lenses are suspended in front of the wearer's eyes as opposed to having the headset secured in place through a strap.
The device also utilizes a pair of 1,440 x 1,440 OLED panels for the display, which are higher in resolution compared with the display of both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. The prototype at CES 2017 is not yet fully functional though, so the actual difference in what users see could not yet be judged. It is worth noting though that the image quality in virtual reality is affected by several other factors aside from screen resolution.
The Lenovo virtual reality headset offers six-degree inside-out tracking, which means that the position of users are tracked without the need for any external cameras or devices such as the light towers of the HTC Vive. The technology, however, has not yet been seen in a finished product, so it is difficult to say how it will work alongside the Windows Holographic platform.
Lenovo is not making its own controllers for the headset though, which means that users will likely be using the Xbox One controller or other devices that will be released in the future to work with the Windows Holographic platform. The headset, however, will work with apps from the Windows Store and some software for the Microsoft HoloLens.
The defining difference for Lenovo's virtual reality headset, compared with the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, is the targeted price for the device. While the regular price of the Oculus Rift is $600 and that of the HTC Vive is $800, Lenovo said that it is targeting a price of only $300 to $400 for its virtual reality headset. There is no exact price yet, but Lenovo added that it will be closer to $300 than $400.
Windows Holographic Platform
Lenovo's virtual reality headset, as previously mentioned, is built for the Windows Holographic platform, which Microsoft will be rolling out early this year as part of the Creators Update for Windows 10.
A preview on the capabilities of the platform was reported in November, revealing that there is no need for a high-end PC to enjoy virtual reality. The minimum system requirements were said to be just 4 GB of RAM, a DirectX 12-capable graphics card, four CPU cores and USB 3.0.