A few days ago, looking for XR/MR/AR/VR devices I stumbled upon some really great headsets and smart glasses. Some of them I found too good to be true, some underappreciated. Before reading this Buyer’s guide, I suggest you check out my article on X-Reality so know what you are bargaining for.
I want to cover products that are available now, but the one’s coming soon are just too exciting to not wait for. Read through and let us know what AR/VR/MR/XR devices you loved and would probably wait for.
Lenovo Mirage Solo Standalone Daydream
Let’s start with something Google. Mirage Solo is Lenovo’s Google collaborated Virtual Reality Headset. Google collaborated how? It runs on the Daydream VR platform.
Google has launched smartphone VR headsets by the name of Daydream VR headsets, previously. Cheaper in cost, as compared to others, and lighter on the functionality, The Daydream platform performed pretty well, but it required a smartphone to do all the heavy lifting, which brings me to my next point – Standalone VR headsets.
This is where Mirage Solo shines. Standalone VR headsets are devices that do not require a smartphone, some TV, or even cables for that matter, to function. They are completely independent. Armed with powerful processors, great lens and screens, chargeable battery packs, anything required for a headset to work, comes with the headset.
Mirage Solo is a standalone VR headset made by Lenovo and built on Google’s Daydream platform.
The Mirage VR headset works without the need for a PC or phone to run VR experiences, and features integrated positional tracking.
Lets look at the features:
Display: 5.5 inch LCD screen
Resolution: 2560 x 1440 Lcd display
FOV (Field of view): 110-degree
Memory: 4GB with 64 GB for storage apps and other content.
SD card slots: upto 256 GB
Headphones: Not integrated with device. Headphone jack available
Camera: stereoscopic 13MP dual outward facing cameras , 4K resolution , Wide angle , true depth.
Video format: VR 180
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
OS: Daydream OS (Android operating system)
Audio: Android N Pro Audio,
Mic: dual microphones
Size: 8.03 x 10.61 x 7.08 (WxLxH)
Weight: 1.42 pounds
Battery: 4,000 mAh
Price: TBA (To be announced)
Insides Material: Breathable thin padding (Fabric lining)
Release date: Presumebly second quarter of 2018
THE VERGE SPECUALTED RETAIL PRICE WOULD BE LESS THAN $400
AND TECHRADAR REPORTED IT TO BE BETWEEN (About £300, AU$500)
The detachable Camera with the Mirage Solo headset is just amazing. Apart from great video quality captured by two outward facing lenses, the positional tracking features packs in a powerful punch. These little guys help track movement in 3D space, which is super crisp and accurate. In fact, this is the very technology Google calls “World Tracking”.
That also makes Mirage Solo eligible to run both Worldsense-optimized apps as well as apps developed for the company’s mobile Daydream VR headset.
As far as standalone Virtual Reality headsets come, Mirage Solo is standing at the top of the line.
Before HoloLens was released, it was portrayed as the unbeatable king of mixed reality headsets. Didn’t do much justice when it was actually released.
Lets look at the features first
- See-through holographic lenses (waveguides)
- 2 HD 16:9 light engines
- Automatic pupillary distance calibration
- Holographic Resolution: 2.3M total light points
- Holographic Density: more than 2.5k radiants (light points per radian)
- 4 environment understanding cameras
- an energy-efficient depth camera with a 120°×120° angle of view
- A 2.4-megapixel photographic video camera
Video Format: HD video
Micro Phone: Four-microphone array
- 1 IMU (inertial measurement unit) – with accelerometer, gyroscope and a magnetometer
- 4 environmental understanding sensors (2 on each side)
- An ambient light sensor
- Intel Cherry Trail SoC (System on chip) containing the CPU and GPU
- 32 bit architecture with TPM 2.0 support
- Custom-built Microsoft Holographic Processing Unit (HPU 1.0)
- Windows 10 operating system
- Built-in speakers
- 5mm jack
- IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy (LE)
- wireless connectivity
- Micro USB 2.0
- 2-3 hours of active use an internal rechargeable battery
- Up to 2 weeks of standby time
- 579g (20 ounces)
- 2GB RAM , 64GB Sd card supported
- $ 3000 (Developer’s edition)
Release date: Expected to start by March 30th (Developer’s edition)
The major concern with HTC Vive Pro was the small FOV (field of view). It was just too small for a mixed reality headset, not ignoring other functional breakthroughs, but the field of view (to me) is the most important factor in a VR headset, let alone a mixed reality device.
You see, for a truly immersive experience, the more cut off or “immersed” you are in another reality, the better the experience but HoloLens is not a VR headset.
It’s an AR device and a good FOV is equally important for a great AR experience as well. Why?
Because when you look away from the ‘small FOV’, the augmented images or content simply disappears, and trust me that’s a big bummer!
But wait a minute, didn’t I put HoloLens under a ‘
Mixed Reality’ heading? Yes I did and not by mistake 🙂
HoloLens is an AR device that also adds in a VR kick – making it a MIXED REALITY device.
But how? I have been asking myself the same question the past couple of days.
The answer lies in the very name itself. “HOLO” probably relates to hologram.
The HoloLens headset displays holographic images on the visor. So you get to see a semi-transparent virtual reality ‘the VR kick’ with augmented content – thus experience a mix of the two realities, termed as Mixed reality (MR).
As far as mixed reality headsets come, Microsoft’s HoloLens is the first completely wireless, standalone holographic computer on the market.
My favorite feature in the HoloLens include:
The Bluetooth feature: Gives you the option to make use of a new clicker accessory instead of navigating around through air tap gestures.
The data integration: Allows HoloLens to handle other tasks like gesture recognition, spatial mapping and speech recognition.
Cortana Integration: Talking to personal virtual assistant and experiencing Mixed Reality cannot get more dope than this. The voice recognition is also very accurate.
Okay, now to the part where we talk about buying Microsoft’s HoloLens Mixed reality headset.
At the moment, there is a development edition available for pre-orders for developers at the price of $3000. The shipping is expected to start by March 30th. The consumer version is yet to come.
When you un-box HoloLens, this is what you should expect:
- A Holo lens device
- Clicker accessory
- Extra nose pads
Mind you, HoloLens is not the only Mixed reality headset Microsoft has brought to us. In their recent Computex 2017 event, they announced various other mixed reality headsets from reputed companies like Lenovo, Acer, Dell, Samsung and more. Check them out here.
All of these showcased their versions of Mixed reality headsets in partnership with Microsoft.
If the cords were an issue for you with the Oculus Rift, I think you will enjoy the Oculus Go VR headset.
It is a mid-tier Virtual Reality headset developed by Facebook and Xiaomi.
Lets get straight to the features first
Display: Fast switch LCD screen
Resolution: 2560 x 1440
Audio: Spatial Audio integrated speakers (One on each side)
Headphone: 3.5 mm jack available
Processor: Snapdragon 821 processor
Ram: 32 GB
DOF (Degree of freedom): 3DoF head tracking
Release date: Early 2018
So, a mid-tier standalone Virtual Reality headset, with an integrated display and computing power, and that too for a price of $200. Sounds exciting.
Since its mid-tier, don’t expect heavy processing and performance like 3D positional tracking and such. That does make the VR experience less immersive but not to the extent that you won’t enjoy using this device.
They developed custom lenses for this headset, which gives you a pretty wide field of view. Also, the fast-switch LCD screen minimizes the ‘nausea’ effect you get from switching between reality and virtual reality to a considerable length.
If you just want to see what a standalone VR experience would be like and you have a budget thing going on, go for Oculus Go.
An interesting fact, Xiaomi will be making a Chinese version of the same Oculus Go VR headset under the name Xiaomi Mi VR Standalone. That will be an interesting addition to the Oculus family, so to speak.
However, the Oculus family is still expecting a new XR/MR/AR/VR device very soon, better known as ‘Project Santa Cruz’. It will be higher on specs than any other Oculus headset we have seen as yet. Release and spec details still to be confirmed, you can check out some other details here.
HTC VIVE PRO
Lets get straight to the features first
Camera: Dual front facing camera
Display: Dual OLED 615 ppi
Resolution: 2,880 x 1600 pixels
Micro phone: Dual microphones with noise cancellation
FOV: 110 degree
Headphones (Detachable): Built-in Headphones with in-line amplifier, 3D sound with spatial Audio
Adapter: Turns the VR headset wireless
Price: TBA but expected to be more than the HTC Vive costing $600.
Release date: TBA (To be announced)
Some details of the Vive Pro are still unannounced, but speculating on these it suffices to say that HTC beats all VR headsets with its powerful and crisp display and resolution. Till now, it has the highest ppi (pixels per inch) and resolution in a VR headset.
HTC does not just shine on the display, but it has the matching audio quality as well. Although, mostly developers/gamers prefer using their own headphones, but the ones HTC provides are also top grade considering a VR headset.
I must admit, for such a powerful VR device, I thought it to be a little heavy but it is very well balanced.
Before you try on the HTC VIVE PRO, be sure to save on some money because once you taste the VR experience on this one, it will be very hard to settle for anything lesser.
MAGIC LEAP ONE
Magic Leap is the most mysterious and secretive AR startup. It gained everyone’s attention when it raised a considerable huge amount of funding, $827m in 2015, another $800m in2016, and the record goes up. That is a HUGE amount, even for good startups. It didn’t just raise funding from anyone, one of the key investors was Google. For a company, no one had really heard of (At that time) this was an eye-brow raiser.
After 5 years of rumors, Magic Leap has finally showcased, for the first time, a piece of hardware. It is their fabled AR glasses – Magic Leap one (Creator Edition).
They come with a battery, processing pack and a controller.
Magic Leap is calling its glasses Lightwear, the battery pack Lightpack, and the controller is called Control.
The details are still a blue blur but the release date is expected to be in 2018, so that is something to look forward to.
There is a rumored price going around as well, around $1000 – $1500, I suppose a competitive price to Microsoft’s HoloLens.
Magic Leap One is more than just a pair of AR glasses with a camera. It is expected they will be used as “Mixed Reality” smart glasses as well.
A little on the processing, they incorporate spatial computing. According to Rony Abovitz, CEO of Magic Leap, the Magic Leap AR glasses are like a Microsoft HoloLens but with a larger field of view.
I am not completely devoid of valuable information here, These smart glasses use lightfield photonics to create digital light at different depths. This blends seamlessly with natural light and produces lifelike digital objects that coexist in the real world.
I think this will be the key feature that will define a whole new class of AR object quality.
Magic Leap One has a very smart and compact design. Instead of attaching the computational components with the HMD (Head Mounted Display), Magic Leap One comes with a lightweight pack, that performs all the heavy processing. It has a disk-shape and is attachable to your clothes, belt or pocket.
Coming to the Controller, which Magic Leap calls “CONTROL” is a remote that contains buttons, six-degrees of freedom motion sensing and a touchpad with haptic feedback. To date, MR/VR/AR/ devices remote controllers have 3Dof. This gives me another reason to add it to my list of Upcoming XR/MR/AR/VR devices I can’t wait to try.
Lets keep our fingers crossed and hope that Magic Leap AR smart glasses supersede all expectations.
QUALCOMM EXTENDED REALITY GLASSES
Just a concept, but when a company like Qualcomm shares something like this, you take it seriously.
Tim Leland, Product VP at Qualcomm, shared a concept for Firefighter XR smart glasses. The proposed features entail as follows:
Display: New optics with a semitransparent display
Camera: Multiple cameras – passive & active cameras, a rear camera, a tracking and recording camera, fisheye, telephoto lenses, eye tracking,
Sensors: Ambient light sensors, eye tracking, directional, Inertial, haptic, environmental sensors, Optoelectronic night vision and thermal imaging sensors.
Flash Light: Ultra bright LED light
Micro phone: Multiple high sensitivity audio microphones.
Release date: Near April 2018
This is quite a heavy feature set.
Tim thinks that, as great as XR/MR/AR/VR devices are today, they still lack that ‘wow effect’ that we truly crave for in such devices. In order to get there, using more cameras, precise lighting and processing is required. That is why, this concept of the glasses has so many cameras.
Also, conserving on battery. That is yet another big issue we face with XR/MR/AR/VR devices.
Check out this video for a better understanding of this Fire fighter Extended Reality glasses.
Vuzix blade glasses are what Google tried with their Google glass, but these have a little something extra The Amazon voice assistant, ALEXA
Yes, that name makes it clear. These are a hard-earned fine product created by Vuzix and Amazon.
Still in developer edition, here are the features:
Display: wavelength – based see through optics Cobra II DLP based display projected on the glass.
OS: Android 5.0 (lollipop)
Processor: Quad core ARM
Camera: 8 MP
Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-fi radio
Storage: micro Usb port, micro SD card slot
Micro Phone: Noise cancellation
Price: TBA – Estimated around $1997
Release date: TBD (To be announced)
Over to the part, how these actually feel in reality.
Well, apart from a rectangular-interface display in the center of the visual range, everything is great. The Vuzix Blade connects to your phone and shows email, pictures and such content as a semi-translucent view over the glasses. Feels pretty cool than it sounds.
Specially with the Alexa integration. It feels somewhat closer to future projected by sci-fi movies.
A developer version of the product is on its way in the next few months, with a consumer version following soon in the second quarter of this year.
I compared the Vuzix Blade with Google glass because it provides all the benefits Google Glass provided, but better. A larger and clearer display with full colors. Easy to move around your vision by toggling on the slider up and down in the settings of the device itself.
If you are not a fan of the whole ‘Headset’ look Vuzix Blade glasses will be perfect.
As an honorable mention, I’d like to add in APPLE here.
You must think me mad, because Apple has not launched any XR/MR/AR/VR headset or smart glasses yet.
True my friend, but if you look closely on what Apple has been doing, you will realize Apple is soon about to release some equally mesmerizing and mind blowing XR/MR/AR/VR device.
Here is how I know
Heard of the company VRVANA? Apple bought it for a $30 million dollars! Why?
Because of their VR headset TOTEM
Lets get straight to the features first
Display: 1440p low persistence OLED
FOV: 120 degree for both augmented and real world content
Cameras: Dual on-board cameras, RGB 6MP ultra low latency pass through (per eye), IR 720p 60hz
Connectivity: Display port 1.2a, USB 2.0
Sensors: 3-axis 1kHz gyro, 3 axis magnetometer 100HZ
Audio: 3.5 mm jack, Surround sound over stereo,
Micro phone: 2 environment microphones, user micro phone
OS: Windows 10
Release date: TBD (To be announced)
If you have never heard of this particular headset, that’s probably because it never shipped. They did get a lot of great reviews and that is probably why Apple bought it. Considering Apple’s ARKit integration in iOS 11 and this bold move on Vrvana, there is no doubt Apple is about to step up their Augmented Reality game with some XR/MR/AR/VR device.
That is it for my list of the top XR/MR/AR/VR Headsets & Glasses | Upcoming & Released. Let us know which one you found most interesting or what your list of these products would be like.