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Hands on with Lenovo’s new AR and VR wonders

Lenovo is the most recent entrant to the VR hardware scene, and its first product has quite a bit going for it when stacked up towards Vive and the Rift.

At a Lenovo launch occasion simply previous to the German IFA present I hung out making an attempt every of Lenovo’s new merchandise and the information is sweet, principally.




The Explorer is a captivating VR HMD. Number one, it is the lightest HMD on the market (Lenovo’s declare) at 380g, and it is also the nicest design (my expertise). The display a part of the gadget flips up whereas it stays strapped to your head – and that alone is simply fantastic. It means you possibly can simply swap in and out of reality with out eradicating the entire HMD. 

What can I do with it?
The driving issue behind the tech specs is a necessity for compatibility with the Microsoft Mixed Reality ecosystem. That is sweet, and probably dangerous information. The display decision is an uncommon 1440 x 1440 on every of the 2 2.89-inch screens. This is displayed in a 110 diploma subject of view. That is what Microsoft calls for, however the internet outcome is an effective one when it comes to the picture high quality. It was at the very least nearly as good because the Rift CV1 and Vive, regardless of having a decrease horizontal decision – however greater vertical res. 

Refresh price is both 60 or 90Hz. But this is the factor… Microsoft Mixed Reality dictates no consumer overriding of any settings, and it runs a system examine on set up to find out its configuration. On a PC with built-in graphics it can scale to 1280 x 1280 @ 60Hz. Decent discrete graphics lets it run at full res at 90Hz, and there’s potential to superscale at 2k per display in case your system meets Microsoft’s necessities. What these are precisely I do not know, however assume when it comes to Vive or Rift and that is what to anticipate.

Hopefully there might be hacks to permit customized settings, nevertheless it all exhibits the strengths (ease of setup, guarateed app efficiency and expertise) of Microsoft’s VR world, and the weaknesses (closed ecosystem, no customising of settings).

The huge big potential hit is that in the intervening time there isn’t a help for Steam VR. If Microsoft do a deal with Steam, that makes Lenovo’s Explorer probably one of the best VR HMD going. Until then you’re restricted to Microsoft’s imaginative and prescient.

Nice huh?
It’s the design and consolation that makes the Explorer so good. An necessary design function is the only knob that tightens the top band. When I attempted it, it shames the options of others, it is so easy to get it fitted proper, and particularly helpful in the event you’re sharing it round with pals.

Connection to the PC is by way of a single cable that mixes HDMI and USB and splits them on the PC finish to maintain issues tidy. A headphone jack is within the HMD and audio is fed by way of the HDMI cable. I requested about potential setup hassles- ie having to modify between audio output sources when not utilizing VR, it was defined that the Mixed Reality software program manages that, however I nonetheless fear it could possibly be painful.

It’s additionally freed from exterior room sensors, one other marked deviation from the Rift and Vive method of doing issues. The entrance of the HMD has forward-facing sensors inbuilt that bathe the room with invisible pinpoints of sunshine in the identical means Microsoft Kinect does. Lenovo informed me that there isn’t any restrict to the room measurement as a most, so presumably the sensor is way reaching. Lenovo advocate a minimal play space of 3m x 3m, and the beneficiant 4m cable size ought to permit pretty unimpaired play.

And, it has hand wands. They look very very similar to the Rift’s and the unit comes with a pair. They have six levels of sensing freedom.


Positional accuracy and constancy of the wands was excellent. Faultless. But on the launch they have been operating from a cable, the buyer product will probably be Bluetooth solely so I can not say for positive if my good expertise would be the similar – however it ought to, technically there is no purpose it ought to be totally different.

The new VR participant
Lenovo is making daring claims for its VR ambitions, a rep telling me it “was taking an agressive stance and wants to take a leadership role” in VR.

It will initially be launched as a shopper system, however Lenovo plan to make it obtainable within the business area over time. When requested if will probably be an open developer platform Lenovo was slightly cagey, explaining solely that it’ll work to assist introduce purposes in numerous fields reminiscent of well being and schooling.

It was simply confirmed on the occasion that it is going to be onsale in Australia, although when, and at what worth stays unannounced.


This takes the entire smartphone-powered AR/VR to an entire new degree. It’s an interesting product for a lot of causes. Technically, it places the smartphone above the HMD and displays its show on missors to create an AR scene by means of the visor. That’s new, and the relative complexity in comparison with one thing just like the Samsung Gear VR assist clarify why it prices much more.


Lenovo will publish an inventory of suitable smartphones as an alternative of getting a type of minimal spec requirement for minimal CPU/GPU. That is sensible given the extensive market it can promote into. We know that the it’ll take display sizes as much as round 5.eight inches. Most apparently, it is going to render based mostly on the smartphone’s display decision, so lastly these 4k smartphones have a real use! It is suitable with each IOS and Android.

You are the Jedi
But in fact the large massive information is that that is the launch platform for Star Wars Jedi Challenges. That makes this AR headset successfully a single-game HMD, although in time you possibly can anticipate games and experiences from different Disney franchises. Yes, it is a Disney partnership and Lenovo indicated it might keep that means for fairly a while.


Regardless, it will promote its pants off. The experiences bundled with the system at launch cowl three recreation varieties. There’s the lightsabre battles half, which utilises the included mild sabre (a precise duplicate of the Luke lightsabre), by way of which you battle six more and more troublesome villans and every has particular person preventing types. Over time as you progress, the illuminated prime of the sunshine sabre modifications color. Initially it is blue however can go full Darth purple, maybe relying on in recreation decisions, that wasn’t clear on the launch simply how that works.
Then there is a technique recreation. You command troops in well-known Star Wars battles, like Hoth and Tatooine. 

Lastly there’s Holochess. Naturally. I hope this raises a new era of younger Jedi studying the satisfaction that comes from enjoying chess!

How it really works
It’s all AR, so a small monitoring beacon is positioned on the ground so the system is aware of the place you’re. The lightsabre connects by way of Bluetooth, and has rechargeable batteries.

What it is like
I truthfully had lowish expectations nevertheless it was fairly good. Most importantly the rendering of objects is strong and secure and clear. Caveat – the demo was set towards a pure black backdrop, greatest circumstances. Still, my battle towards Kylo went nicely. He was a bit blue and black, so maybe color rendering might be lower than ideally suited. The demo used an iPhone, although which one wasn’t shared. But presumably a current mannequin with its sometimes excellent DPI, so what I noticed was nearly as good because it will get, thereabouts.

Kylo moved again and forth and the scaling was practical. It was certainly like he was there with me. The FOV wasn’t a problem with this recreation as a result of as a slender object, a human works nicely as a AR topic.

He was there alone, with no world round him. So, until there’s extra to it in later ranges it is welcome to my front room, Darth and co.

The sabre has haptic suggestions, and the fixed buzzing as our beams clashed was simply pretty, very useful in creating a sensible sense of presence.

During my play the sabre beam wasn’t aligned completely with the handset, off by about 10 levels, however this was having a go with an enormous queue behind me so presumably calibration will repair that.

The sabre was somewhat mild. A colleague recommended that including weights as a mod can be a cool factor to do, and I agree. Still, it seems to be lovely and was a thrill to carry and weild.

This will ship in October in Australia for $399, and will promote its arse off for xmas and deservedly. It’s a Star Wars expertise many have dreamed of probably way back to 1977. I do know I’ve. Alas solely the sabre preventing was operating, I might have liked to have performed the technique recreation. That should wait.

This all alerts an enormous shift for Lenovo, and a really thrilling one. With its partnerships and large base of technical and design experience it is sensational to see the corporate decide to such cool stuff, and pull it off so nicely.

So, good job, Lenovo, now let’s examine Microsoft get in mattress with Steam and for the Explorer no less than, issues might be simply good!


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