Thursday, August 31st 2017

Lenovo Announces the Explorer Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Lenovo's take on the Windows Mixed Reality platform, which we covered a few days ago as featuring Steam VR support and a still-in-its-infancy Halo VR experience, has just been named. The Explorer MR will set you back $349 for just the headset, or $449 for the headset plus a pair of 6-DoF (Degrees of Freedom) controllers.

Lenovo didn't say how much the Explorer HMD weighs, but the usual "comfortable and lightweight," and "finely tuned for perfect balance" have been mentioned. A flip-flop visor allows you to quickly remove the dual 1440x1440 displays from your face, should you need an emergency look at the real world around you. The Lenovo Explorer features inside-out spatial tracking, just like the other Windows MR devices, with two front-mounted cameras handling environment tracking. Trackable space on the Explorer should be around 3.5 x 3.5 meters, likely constrained by the fact that the HMD is tethered via USB and HDMI (tethering that is par-of-the-course for this VR generation.) Specs still haven't been finalized, but pricing is, so we shouldn't look to any substantial differences between the announced and final specifications.
Source: Tom's Hardware
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8 Comments on Lenovo Announces the Explorer Windows Mixed Reality Headset

#1
Hugh Mungus
The potential is there and I should have some extra cash soon, so I might pick a VR headset and these windows MR headsets seem like a great choice for me despite limited FOV. The resolution and controllers are drawing me towards them and I'm used to 90 degree FOV on pc anyway, so turning my head to look around is already a huge improvement. Cable is fine too since I'm lazy and don't have a good space for wireless vive-ing or anything like that, so deskchair it is.
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#2
Mindweaver
Moderato®™
Hugh Mungus said:
The potential is there and I should have some extra cash soon, so I might pick a VR headset and these windows MR headsets seem like a great choice for me despite limited FOV. The resolution and controllers are drawing me towards them and I'm used to 90 degree FOV on pc anyway, so turning my head to look around is already a huge improvement. Cable is fine too since I'm lazy and don't have a good space for wireless vive-ing or anything like that, so deskchair it is.
These are not a bad option, but I would suggest to anyone wanting to buy a VR HMD right now to get an Oculus Rift while the price is $399. Oculus is giving away a lot of great games with the purchase of a Rift.
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#3
Hugh Mungus
Mindweaver said:
These are not a bad option, but I would suggest to anyone wanting to buy a VR HMD right now to get an Oculus Rift while the price is $399. Oculus is giving away a lot of great games with the purchase of a Rift.
I just don't like the rift or vive, the bundled games are meh at best and the microsoft MR headsets' resolution is better , which actually matters on a VR headset. I think I prefer the controllers too and I don't see the need for more than 95 degrees FOV. I would pick 95 degrees and double 1440p over 1200p with 110 degrees FOV anytime. The vives main advantage is room scaling and I already know how big my desk is, so that's pointless! XD
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#4
xkm1948
I just want to know what type of tracking system this use. Room scale is king.
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#5
Mindweaver
Moderato®™
Hugh Mungus said:
I just don't like the rift or vive, the bundled games are meh at best and the microsoft MR headsets' resolution is better , which actually matters on a VR headset. I think I prefer the controllers too and I don't see the need for more than 95 degrees FOV. I would pick 95 degrees and double 1440p over 1200p with 110 degrees FOV anytime. The vives main advantage is room scaling and I already know how big my desk is, so that's pointless! XD
I'm only offering friendly advice. I hope it works well for you. I hope these microsoft HMD's do well.

xkm1948 said:
I just want to know what type of tracking system this use. Room scale is king.
It uses the same markerless inside-out tracking as hololens. Using the 2 cameras on the front of the HMD. The controllers are tracked using the same cameras. They have some IMU's to predict where the controller are when you put the behind your back. I've watch a videos of a person that already has it and so far that feature isn't working correctly. Once the controllers are out of sight the controllers then only rotate in the same position where the cameras lost tracking.
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#6
Hugh Mungus
Mindweaver said:
I'm only offering friendly advice. I hope it works well for you. I hope these microsoft HMD's do well.


It uses the same markerless inside-out tracking as hololens. Using the 2 cameras on the front of the HMD. The controllers are tracked using the same cameras. They have some IMU's to predict where the controller are when you put the behind your back. I've watch a videos of a person that already has it and so far that feature isn't working correctly. Once the controllers are out of sight the controllers then only rotate in the same position where the cameras lost tracking.
Guess it depends on your preferences which headset you want. It's going to be a while before an almost perfect headset is released, but extra options is always a good thing.
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#7
Mindweaver
Moderato®™
Hugh Mungus said:
Guess it depends on your preferences which headset you want. It's going to be a while before an almost perfect headset is released, but extra options is always a good thing.
True, when every you get your HMD come and join our Virtual Reality Clubhouse. If you think it will be awhile before you buy, you don't have to own a VR HMD to join.
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#8
Octavean
The more the merrier in the VR space so I agree there.

The specs are definitely something to consider, however, I wouldn't make a decision on specs alone. Experience is something that can't be discounted. One can definitely make prediction based on the specs but I wouldn't simply assume sight unseen that a slightly higher resolution on the Microsoft MR HMDs will be a significant improvement over the Rift and Vive. Likewise the more narrow FOV may not be too damaging to the immersion but then again it might.

I've used the PSVR and the Oculus Rift extensively and the one thing that I suspect will always be untenable is poor controller tracking. Overall the PSVR controller tracking is fair IMO but the song camera at a fixed point has its understandable limitations. I honestly don't see how HMD mounted cameras can adequately track controllers in many typical gaming use cases (reaching behind you to pull arrows from a quiver or reaching down to your sides to pull guns from holsters). This can likely be worked around with respect to the mechanics of a given game but it is an inherent issue with the hardware that likely can't be made "unnoticeable". Seamless transitioning between the inside-out tracking and the controller's onboard sensors is a big ask.

Still it's something I would like to try before condemning it.

Ideally I want bulletproof tracking or as close to it as one can get. Theoretically, with good independent tracking systems one can replace their HMD for one with a higher resolution for example without having to replace their entire setup.
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