Lenovo's first VR headset is a low-cost Windows Holographic alternative

VR is a huge deal this year at CES, and Lenovo is getting in on the scene from multiple angles. The most exciting and surprising of the bunch is the news that Lenovo is developing a self-branded VR headset that's built for the Windows Holographic platform.

On the face of it, this yet-to-be-named headset seems to have a lot going for it: it's lighter than the likes of the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, has a pair of high-resolution 1400x1400 displays (though we couldn't plug it in and try it out) and is targeting a lower price than either headset. The design is sort of a poor man's Hololens in that it has a rigid ring that sits high on your forehead and low on the back of your head, tightening with a knob for a snug fit — the face mask portion then pivots down from the forehead portion of the headset, meaning it doesn't put unnecessary pressure on your cheeks or nose.

The Lenovo headset also has an advantage over the HTC Vive in terms of setup, because it uses a pair of front-mounted cameras to get depth information rather than relying on the Vive's light towers for positioning. The Lenovo headset also has just two cables running off of it, rather than the more bulky tangle of cables from the competition. On the other side of the coin Lenovo isn't making its own controllers to go alongside the headset, meaning right now you're going with an Xbox One controller or other future controllers designed to the Windows Holographic spec.

But in the end, Lenovo has one big differentiator: it says it's targeting a price under $400 for the full-featured headset, which would make it far more attainable than the current crop of VR accessories. We don't have any firm pricing information or know when Lenovo even plans to make an official announcement on the headset as a proper consumer-ready product.

Andrew Martonik
  • Wow inside out tracking + higher res than Rift & Htc for $300-400 less?!?! It seems like Microsoft has a huge r&d lead over the competition with their hololens spatial mapping and positional tracking from all their work with Kinect.
  • I hope MS won't **** it up
  • That's getting old now. People don't say Google will **** it up because the Wave or Google+ social networks failed miserably.....or Apple because of the watch, MacBook pro, etc etc.
  • It's all marketing. The guerrilla war is not fought with products or advertisment but influencing the ambient public opinion, with subtleties like these. And the effect is devastating, it can make or break a game, device, OS, etc. And let me tell you more, its generals (probably paid) are the people who write crap unfairly about some things and exaggerated wonders about others. So let's not play the role of cannon fodder in this war, let's be smarter than mindlessly repeat the negative snippets that have been implanted against MS in the interest of its rival corporations.
  • It's begun.
  • Off topic, sorry. Just wanted to say that the WC app gets worse and worse and it's ironically the worst performing app on my phone. From freezing a few seconds to the way they jumble & re-order posts. It's ridiculous.
  • Reset it, clear cache.
  • Agreed. I reverted back to the non-UWP version because this app ***** me a lot.
  • yeah its very slow nowadays
  • Haha. Dissent will not be tolerated! I speak the truth.
  • I'm confused I'm using HoloLens for a month now and it can do both AR And VR.Is it the same with Lenovo or is just VR?
  • Yeah, yes should really rename from "Windows Holographic platform" to something like "Windows Mixed Reality Platform" or DirectMR or whatever. The naming is going to be super confusing for folks now that these new headsets are coming out. And I don't know the answer to your question, but I would think that this new Lenovo headset, is VR only. Btw. its announcement isn't really a surprise, is it?
  • It's both AR and VR.
  • hololens = see your environment and overlay objects in that enviornment, plus more opaque vr in limited 45 degree FOV like the holotours app. OEM devices = re-map boundaries and surfaces of your real environment in VR and overlay objects in that recreated enviornment, plus fully immersive vr with 160-170 degree FOV.
  • VR and MR are going to merge over time.
    See-through devices (like HoloLens) will probably gain pixel occlusion, the ability to stop real-world light from going to a pixel, allowing for solid and dark holograms and complete VR mode when needed.
    At the same time, opaque devices (the first wave of Windows Holographic HMDs), which are based on standard VR-type screens, have all the sensors for room-mapping like HoloLens, and could perform a composed-MR, basically just taking the video feed from front cameras and merge it with computer-generated images to provide a real-world view within VR. If you look at Sulon Q demo video at http://sulon.com/​ , you'll see exactly this, a software-composed-MR based on standard VR screens and stereo depth+RGB cameras. Note this approach provides a much less natural view of the real world, but does provide a benefit over HoloLens, it can distort the real world view by simply processing the video feed. A crumbling wall could really show pieces with the real wall surface as their texture moving from their real positions. Until both devices merge, the software-composed MR could be a good trade-off for people who mostly want immersive gaming and immersive holographic desktop, but occasionally want to use MR.
  • So as I understand it HoloLens is years ahead from the competition.
  • oh dear God.. its not the same and never will be
  • HoloLens uses different display tech and is fully untethered so yes this is different.
  • I'm sure it had to do with functionality, but I like that they embraced the cameras instead of hiding them. It looks pretty funny in a good way, I think so anyways.
  • Shut up and... You know what's next
  • Under 400 means 399 then 😂
  • Lenovo stated that it will be closer to $300
  • Under $400!!! Even if it is $399, this is good... Really good!!!
  • So what's in these other vr headsets that make them $600+
  • Magic.
  • A lot of R&D cost, really great hand controllers (for the Vive), and an earlier version of room scale tracking. It's like any technology, it starts expensive and clunky, then gets cheaper and better over time. 
  • I'm very tempted to buy this (or something similar), but using an Xbox controller with a VR headset is a no go. It needs to include great hand controllers. 
  • An Xbox controller with VR is perfectly satisfactory for me. After playing Xbox so much there is io real reason why it wouldn't work, it's so easy to use.
  • I entirely disagree. After having the original rift than buying touch controlers, the difference is incredible. Hand tracking is necessary for a good VR experience.
  • I disagree.
  • I disagree that you disagree. The immersion of touch controllers that are tracked in VR is essential to the VR experience and if I were going to play on an Xbox controller my monitor is higher resolution than my VR headset and gives me 100+ fps over Gsync which is much more preferable than slapping on the much lower resolution VR headset just to have the same experience. If this was the to be the VR experience for me I would not have purchased one. I bought the HTC vive specifically for room scale and motion controllers. Be it boxing, table tennis, golf or endless steam of shooting while ducking and dodging I am having a blast and it feels like an entirely new genre of gaming.
  • I've tried both, and while that's fine for you, that doesn't have to be the case for everyone. I'm perfectly satisfied with just an Xbox controller and my head.
  • If this is compatible with steam vr and other brands motion controllers, this would be even more amazing. It would be nice if motion controllers became a common peripheral like gamepad controllers are, so we can use any of the ones we have for these cheaper headsets :)
  • That's really the problem there are over a thousand indie games that are out now on Steam for vive the question is how many developers will be porting their games to windows holographic platform. Until it has content it doesn't matter how cheap it is...
  • It's still early days for VR. Vive has sold less than 400K total units! how long do you think it will take for Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus & Acer combined to surpass the sales of Rift or Vive if their specs have similar or higher resolutions, inside out tracking, cost much less & will likely have Xbox project scorpio support. Right now there is zero money in VR development unless you're sponsored by Sony, Facebook or Valve. No AAA developer will dedicate resources to develop VR titles until there are >5-10M units in the market because only a fraction of that total will ever buy any 1 game.  If Windows holographic HMD sales take off mostly due to reduced cost, indie VR developers will release their apps on the windows store especially with the massive carrot of native Xbox support likely coming. They need as much exposure as possible since very few of them are making enough money now to overcome development costs.
  • Ugh! Yet another ugly, huge piece of headgear that costs way too much. There's just no must-have programs that make throw this much money away on something so unappealing remotely worth it.
  • Fingers crossed for Windows 10 (with windows holographics platform) based VR head mounted displays HMDs to arrive.
  • Sweet can't wait