Google’s first standalone virtual reality (VR) headset is here, courtesy of Lenovo: The two companies unveiled the Mirage Solo headset, which runs on Google’s Daydream VR platform and is being built by Lenovo, at CES in Las Vegas Tuesday. The headset works without the need for a PC or phone to run VR experiences, and features integrated positional tracking.
The Mirage Solo comes with an integrated 5.5 inch LCD screen that offers a 110-degree field of view, and packs 4GB of memory and 64 GB of storage for apps and content. Users are able to expand that storage with SD cards of up to 256 GB. There are no integrated headphones, but unlike many modern phones, the Mirage Solo at least comes with a traditional headphone jack.
Google said Tuesday that the headset would become commercially available in the second quarter of this year. The company didn’t announce any pricing, but The Verge reported that it would retail for less than $400.
That’s notable because of the much cheaper Oculus Go, the standalone VR headset made by Facebook and Xiaomi that is supposed to go on sale early this year. Much like the Mirage Solo, the Oculus Go comes with integrated display and computing power. Only, it is being sold for $199 — an extremely aggressive price.
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The Mirage Solo is costing twice as much when it ships in Q2. Part of that is due to the use of more advanced technology. The Mirage Solo packs two outward-facing cameras that are being used for positional tracking, which means that they help to track movements in a 3D space.
Step forward, and the headset will incorporate that motion into the VR experience. Google calls this technology Worldsense. The Mirage Solo will run both Worldsense-optimized apps as well as apps developed for the company’s mobile Daydream VR headset.
Technology like Worldsense that was until now largely reserved for higher-end headsets like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, which use an external PC to power VR games. However, the Mirage Solo won’t quite be able to match the experience of these headsets: The Mirage Solo comes with the same controller as Google’s existing Daydream VR headset, which can’t be tracked by the headset itself. This means that it will allow you to lean into an experience, but not reach out and grab anything.
Facebook’s Oculus Go headset won’t offer any such 3D positional tracking, making VR experiences less immersive. However, the much steeper price tag could turn consumers off — and they wouldn’t be alone: When Google first announced that it was working on standalone headsets last May, it revealed two partnerships with Lenovo and HTC to build such devices. However, HTC decided to scrap its headset last year, with sources telling Variety that the decision came after the Oculus Go was announced.
Update: 12:23pm: This post was updated with new information on the price of the Mirage Solo.