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Lenovo Releases First Standalone Google Daydream VR Headset, VR180 Camera

Google’s first standalone Daydream VR headset is finally available for sale: Lenovo began selling its Mirage Solo standalone headset or a price of $399 Friday. The company also released its Mirage Camera, the first consumer camera to make use of Google’s VR180 format.

Lenovo first announced its cooperation with Google a year ago at Google’s I/O developer conference. Both companies unveiled the Mirage Solo headset at CES in January. Much like the Oculus Go, which was released earlier this week, the Mirage Solo is a standalone, all-in-one type of device.

“The Mirage Solo puts everything you need for mobile VR in a single device,” said Google AR and VR VP Clay Bavor in a bog post Friday. “You don’t need a smartphone, PC, or any external sensors—just pick it up, put it on, and you’re in VR in seconds.”

The Mirage Solo is based on Google’s Daydream VR platform, meaning that any of the 350 games and apps developed for Daydream also work on the headset. But unlike Google’s phone-based Daydream View headset, and also unlike the Oculus Go, the Mirage Solo uses what is known as inside-out tracking: Two cameras on the device track the room, making it possible for users to lean into VR experiences.

That’s similar to the way high-end VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive work, but without the need for any external tracking hardware.

Tracking is also much more limited on the Mirage Solo. Taking a step to the left or right is enough to leave the tracked space, to which the Mirage Solo reacts by fading its screen to black. The headset is also incapable of tracking its handheld controller, which makes it impossible to lift your virtual hand to your face, for instance.

Lenovo’s other VR product is a $300 camera capable of shooting photos and videos in VR180, a format first introduced by YouTube in June of last year. VR180 essentially displays like a regular video when viewer in a browser, but allows anyone viewing it with a headset to look around and also watch content in 3D. “Photos and videos taken with the camera transport you back to the moment of capture with a 180° field of view and crisp, three-dimensional imagery,” said Bavor.

Google hoped to usher in a new era of standalone headsets with cooperations like this one, but the company got blindsided by Facebook’s announcement to release the Oculus Go for just $199 — half the price of the Mirage Solo. The Oculus Go doesn’t offer the same kind of tracking technology as the Mirage Solo, but it’s doubtful that consumers are willing to pay twice as much for the limited tracking of the Lenovo headset.

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