Standalone VR: A Developer’s Review
A deep dive into the first wave of all-in-one VR headsets.
TL;DR: Any, all, or none of the headsets may be the best choice for you depending on your goals. Ask yourself what will best serve the apps you’re building, and choose accordingly based on what each headset offers.
Most comfortable: Oculus Go — easy to put on, feels good on the face.
Most cleanable: Vive Focus — leather instead of foam.
Most secure: Vive Focus — can tighten perfectly to heads of nearly all sizes.
Most excellent controller: Vive Focus — most usable buttons and it vibrates.
Most backwards compatible: Mirage Solo — Oculus Go is great with GearVR content but making previous 3DoF Daydream experiences 6DoF is amazing.
Most travelable: Oculus Go — compact form factor and lowest price point.
Most powerful: Vive Focus / Mirage Solo — same hardware except Vive Focus has a bigger and better screen so maybe that a little extra juice.
Most premium: Vive Focus — altogether feels like most luxurious experience.
Most battery friendly: Vive Focus— longest life and shuts down after 4 hrs.
Most screensharable: Mirage Solo — after setup, squeeze a couple buttons.
Whenever a new piece of VR hardware hits the market most reviews, understandably, focus on what the experience is like for a consumer. How are the games on it? What’s the battery life? How awesome does it look? As a developer, these reviews rarely leave me with enough information to make an informed purchase.
Here’s what I want to know: What can I do in the Developer Options? What’s the process to install something on it? How does it handle being used by many people in a row? Does it have plugins for Unity and Unreal, and how helpful are they? How long does it take to boot? Can I fit eight of them in a suitcase? Is it backwards compatible? Can I see what my client is seeing? Should my clients purchase it themselves, and how many applications am I likely to build for them on it?
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the first generation of standalone headsets. No more fumbling around with my phone then having Mom call in the middle of a demo? Yes, please. Walking around a room without need for a computer or tether? Double yes please.
I’ve now played with and developed apps for all three headsets — Oculus kindly provided us with an Oculus Go Developer Kit and we purchased both the HTC Vive Focus Developer Kit and the consumer release of the Lenovo Mirage Solo. I have some thoughts. This will not be a look at the existing content for these devices, but rather a guide to help you decide which device(s) are best suited for the content you want to develop. This isn’t the kind of review where I give everything a score then declare such and such the winner. Rather, I want to point out what works and what doesn’t with each headset with the hope that you’ll be able to decide which (if any) are right for your purposes. Let’s start with a big ol’ chart, because who doesn’t love charts?
Yikes. That chart took a while to make. I had to use a tape measure and stopwatch and… you know what? Maybe we’ll just call it day.
No? You want more? Fine. But it’s going to be a lot more. Maybe use this handy table of contents to skip around to the areas you care about:
- Comfort, Compactness, Cleaning:
- Shutting Down and Booting Up:
- Building Apps:
- Screencapture and Streaming:
- The Internet:
- So… what about my VR-ready phone?
- Companion Cameras:
- Random Nitpick:
And so, to quote the great Kent Bye, let’s go ahead and… dive right in.
None of these headsets are perfect, but they’re all doing at least one thing really well. What I’ll say right up top is by removing the need for a phone (the Oculus Go companion app is only necessary for setup), they are making great strides toward reducing the friction of getting into VR. The Oculus Go is a better GearVR experience. The Mirage Solo is a better Daydream experience. The Vive Focus’ Viveport is a new ecosystem to me, but it still feels familiar.
Comfort, Compactness, Cleaning:
I find the Oculus Go the most comfortable to wear and quickest to secure on a head. But on a hot day… yuck, it’s going to soak, so I’m glad it’s easily removable and washable. I also hope we’ll soon be able to buy extra inserts for easy swap-outs.
The Vive Focus has a leather facemask which is the easiest to clean, and better yet, it’s removable/ replaceable. It has a Velcro strap that goes over your head (though ear-to-ear instead of perpendicularly) and the now-ubiquitous knob in the back cushioned by more leather on a plastic band that can tighten. It’s… “premium,” I guess, but feels like overkill. I can get it to feel perfectly secure on my head, but the front still doesn’t feel as comfortable as with the Oculus Go… must be something to do with the “injection foam molding.” The Oculus Go facial form factor is basically a more secure, more comfortable version of the 2017 Google Daydream. Speaking of which, my biggest pet peeve with the Daydream headsets has been the amount of light leak on the sides. The Oculus Go has no light leak, the Mirage Solo has minimal light leak (call it a ‘glow’), and the Vive Focus has noticeable (but not terrible) light leak, unless you really crank it tightly to your face.
If you really need to impress a couple of people and can take the time to set them snugly in the Vive Focus, great. They’ll probably be very happy, particularly if they hit the sweet spot for their IPD. If, however, you’re trying to crank 30 people per hour through an exhibition demo… the Oculus Go will often be your best bet when it comes to balancing cleanliness with efficiency, though maybe spring fro some hygienic face covers to be safe.
The Mirage Solo is behind the pack here. It’s a difficult headset to make comfortable (though possible if you play with the strap angle and the lens-to-eye adjuster), but that’s tough to gauge if you’re putting it on someone. Done wrong, you’ll even end up with a sharp line of pain across the forehead. Worse, the foam is the most susceptible to soak up and hold sweat. Here’s hoping VR Cover comes out with something soon.
Right, and we haven’t talked about compactness yet, but basically: Oculus Go is wonderfully small and portable, Vive Focus folds up surprisingly tight considering its bulk, and the Mirage Solo… just kind of sucks in its belly a little.
As long as we’re thinking about how many of these things you could fit in a rucksack and putting a lot of people in demos, let’s take a moment to consider the price. The Oculus Go at $200 and a 5"x7"x4" size is, let’s face it, amazing. Is the Mirage Solo, at $400 and a 11"x7.5"x7" size worth two of those, both in price and in space? The easy answer is no, but it really depends on the circumstance. Are you building an experience that should feel great for a few people, or okay for a lot of people? And going back to our discussion on movement, how important is 6DoF to the experience in the first place? Maybe it’s so important that you should actually be targeting desktop VR like a Rift or a Vive. Or maybe the possibility of only spending $2000 to put ten people interacting inside your app all at once is going to win out. While thinking about the features on limitations of these headsets, always be asking yourself — what will make the biggest impact on my audience?
The Vive Focus Developer Kit is currently $600, but I’m hearing it will likely be $500 when it is released to the public. I think the comfort it has to offer makes it worth the extra $100 over the Mirage Solo to anyone who isn’t as excited by the affordances of the Daydream ecosystem (YouTube, Google Photos, screen capture ease, etc). And, something about the beige leather just makes me feel like I might finally get that 87-year-old architect to try VR for the first time…
Shutting Down and Booting Up:
First of all, the headsets all seem to prefer standby over turning off, which would annoy me, but all in all you don’t seem to lose very much power this way. I think my Oculus Go was in standby for nearly a day and only lost about 6% battery. The Vive Focus automatically turns off after four hours of inactivity which seems reasonable. Still, it would be nice to set those options yourself, similar to what you can do on your computer.
To manually turn off the Oculus Go or Vive Focus, you must hold down the power button for a moment, then confirm that you want to shut down. For the Go, this takes about the same amount of time as holding the power button for an additional few seconds to do a hard shut down. If you try to do a hard shut down with the Vive Focus, it will simply restart. The Mirage Solo will perform a normal shut down sequence after holding down the power button for about three full seconds. I like that best.
And, oh hey, the Mirage Solo is also the quickest to boot up. From the moment I press the power button to the moment I’m on the home screen, it’s about 12 seconds. The Oculus Go is a little longer at 20 seconds, and the Vive Focus I find to be between 29 seconds and 32 seconds (not sure what causes the inconsistency but remember, it’s a Developer Kit). One thing that drives me a little nutty about this iteration of the Vive Focus is it goes through no less than five startup screens before you land on the menu. You heard that right, five. In order, you see: “Vive Focus,” then “Vive,” then “ViveWave,” then a triangle loading symbol, then the instructions to calibrate the controller (they all do this last step).
Also worth noting: the Vive Focus, Mirage Solo, and Oculus Go all detect when your face is pressed against the headset and will turn the screen on/off accordingly.
I’m a little surprised everyone is still following suit with the original 2016 Daydream remote. One year ago, the GearVR remote improved the ergonomics and put a trigger in the back. The Oculus Go made a bulkier version of that with no volume buttons. The Vive Focus remote keeps the trigger but flattens everything again, and uses the Daydream’s abstract ‘line’ button which can be anything you want it to (as opposed to the way the GearVR and Oculus Go remotes prescribes a ‘Back’ button there.)
Oh, and it vibrates! I love that, and it makes me miss making a phone vibrate for a Google Cardboard app. Why don’t any of the headsets vibrate? As far as I’m concerned, the more haptic feedback, the more palpable a user’s action.
The Vive Focus uses the same lenses and OLED display as the Vive Pro, and gifts you with 1600x1440 per eye, while the Oculus Go and Mirage Solo only provide a measly 1280x1440 per eye on an LCD screen. I’m saying that sarcastically — honestly, I don’t notice a huge difference between the three screens; they all give an FOV of 110 and are miles ahead of the noticeable screen-door-effect of the last generation of headsets. I’m grateful to be here!
In terms of eye strain, the Vive Focus again get points for the IPD adjustment and the Mirage Solo for lens-to-eyes adjustment, but I think Oculus deserves great credit for adding a Brightness slider in the home interface. I’ve actually had a number of clients tell me they thought a VR experience was “too bright,” and until now, my only recourse was to handle that on the app side (on desktop, SteamVR gets some help from “Night Mode,” but not much).
I’m an architect turned VR developer, and at Agile Lens I’m primarily focused on using immersive tech to help my former brethren, out there alone in the cold world of rapidly-evolving technology. Most of the applications I build are hyper-custom and I crank out a lot of them. I primarily use Unity and Unreal, so whenever I’m investigating a new platform I start by looking at its SDK and plugins, even if the release of the device itself is uncertain (check out my introduction to Magic Leap for Unreal!)
Getting started with using a new piece of hardware, I can’t help but have flashbacks to the days of the Oculus Rift DK1 where there were 50 different plugins and patches and nothing quite worked the way you hoped it would. With all three of these headsets I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to get started. Here’s resource links: Oculus Go, Mirage Solo, and Vive Focus.
Whether using Unity or Unreal, in most cases you’re just going to find yourself setting up your Android SDK environment (these are all Android devices), adding in your bundle identifier information, establishing a minimum API of 19 or 24, coding a few things to read as controller inputs then building the darn app. And let’s be clear: most anything designed for GearVR will work for Oculus Go, and most anything designed for Google Daydream will work on the Mirage Solo.
Only the Vive Focus is a bit of an odd duck here, but I was able to follow the instructions and build using their standard project template with little hassle.
In Unity, if your device is plugged in and USB Debugging is enabled, you can use “Build and Run” to build a package directly on your device.
In Unreal, the equivalent method for this is to choose the dropdown find the “Launch” menu that would typically play in the Editor window, but instead choose the dropdown and select your plugged-in phone. Unless you’ve done a great job of stripping unused assets and packages, the Unreal Engine process takes longer.
For all three devices, you can also install the apk separately using the command line ‘adb install [location and name of apk].’
Then there’s the question of minimizing development for multiple platforms. I haven’t done a lot with Viveport yet, so I’m unclear on what the process might be like to have an experience exist both for Vive Pro and Vive Focus. You can do this with Google Cardboard and Google Daydream/Mirage Solo, or GearVR and Oculus Go easily, but if you want an experience for, say, both Oculus Go and Oculus Rift, there are several settings that need adjustment (though Inputs can easily be scripted to be cross-compatible).
One thing that’s kind of cool — I managed to port an old Daydream experience (which ran flawlessly on the Mirage Solo) over to Oculus Go by importing the standard OVR unity package and changing about five lines of code handling input then rebuilding. I was surprised to find I could even leave most of the GVR assets in there for things like the reticle and Event Handler. Maybe I’ll do a tutorial on that sometime. But for our purposes, here’s a video comparing those two screen recording experiences:
Screencapture and Streaming:
Let’s get this out of the way: to my knowledge, there is currently no way to record video or take screenshots in the Vive Focus without third-party software. Want to know more about how to do that? Tony Vitillo has you covered.
The Vive Focus can stream to, say, a Chromecast. It’s buried in the Settings, but you can do it. Far easier is the Mirage Solo, which gives you the Chromecast option right in the home menu. I find streaming to be particularly suited for making a single-user experience more social, showing everyone in a room or at a booth without a VR headset what the user is seeing. On a desktop VR experience, this of course would be the equivalent of seeing what is on the monitor.
Let’s talk screencapture: Oculus Go vs the Mirage Solo. The video above is meant to give some sense of an apples-to-apples comparison of the result of recording your screen, but what’s the process like to get there? Oculus Go would seem to be the most straightforward — there’s a Sharing tab on the main menu and from there, you can take a screenshot, record a video, or even livestream to Facebook. From what I can tell, you can’t record a video across multiple experiences, as the moment you leave either the main menu or the app you’re in, everything stops (this is not the case when going between web pages, but it is when you try to open a WebVR experience… more on that in a moment). With streaming, you can go between experiences sometimes — I was able to go from the main menu to browsing the web to a couple apps all in the same session (though random crashes were common). Some apps don’t stream (if you don’t see the blinking red light then it’s not streaming), but your livestream will continue on anyway, showing your viewers a black screen with no audio. Also, a streaming or recording session slows the framerate to a crawl, even when I’m just in the main menu. Granted, any of these problems could be Developer Kit issues not found in the consumer release — please let me know if your experience is different on any of those fronts.
Getting content off the Oculus Go is easy. Screenshots can be shared directly to Facebook (no editing) from inside the device and livestreams are (usually) saved to Facebook as well. Recorded videos seem to only be grabbable via plugging your device into your computer and treating it like any other MTP USB device (e.g. your phone).
Compare all of that to the Mirage Solo. Screenshots and video capture aren’t easily accessible to the average user, but hey, that’s why we’re here. In Developer Options you can enable screen capture and recording and once you’ve done that, the Mirage Solo is far and away the best device for capturing your experience. At any time at all, a screenshot can be captured by simultaneously pressing the Daydream and volume down buttons, and video by pressing the Daydream and volume up buttons. Great for keeping a record of what you’re doing (especially if you have stats like framerate and draw calls visible), but also for capturing what someone is doing within your experience.
All of the devices allow you to browse, purchase, and download new content directly from inside the headset. If you’re concerned about privacy, while all headsets begin by prompting you to login to your Facebook/Google/Viveport account, these steps may be skipped. Furthermore, all installed apps (sideloaded or otherwise) may be launched from inside the headset without being connected to the internet.
If you do elect to connect your accounts and use the internet:
Purchasing or owning Daydream content in your Google Play library allows you to remotely tell your Mirage Solo to download it through a web browser (just as with any other Android device).
If you purchase Oculus Go content in a browser, it is added to your library. If you purchase or have Oculus Go content in your Oculus Go companion app, you can remotely tell your Mirage Solo to download it.
Viveport doesn’t have a Vive Focus section on the website, but I imagine it will with the consumer release of the headset, and maybe they’ll follow suit and provide a method for telling your Vive Focus to install it.
But what about browsing the web? What if you’re a content creator making 360 videos or WebVR content? Which headset is best for your audience? The Mirage Solo is the only headset with a YouTube app (Google product!), but currently has no native browser support. It’s incoming, apparently. Until then, you can remotely install Chrome Dev and/or Canary which both work for normal web pages, but not for 360 or WebVR content (thanks to Brad South for pointing this out in the comments).
The Vive Focus has a browser. As a test, I tried going to YouTube.com and playing a 360 video. It actually worked, kind of. By clicking on a prompt under the browser to open the video player application, everything popped up full-360-screen, despite a warning from YouTube saying this browser is unsupported and to please please please download the YouTube app (clicking that link did nothing). The quality of the video was degraded from what you see in the Mirage Solo YouTube app, and because it’s basically just wrapping the video you see around you, any pop-up ads will be present in your view all super-distorted-like. 360 3D video is not currently supported.
I also tried to open the Hello, WebVR A-Frame experience and had some surprising results. As soon as the page loaded, the angle of my head rotation started translating to the browser experience. So far so good! But what if I click the little headset icon in the bottom right to open it as a proper VR experience? Nothing. Other non-A-Frame WebVR experiences? Zilch.
Okay, so no WebVR in the Vive Focus, and no browser in the Mirage Solo means that right now, there is no 6DoF WebVR at all among the standalone headsets.
Oculus Go does not have YouTube, but it does have Facebook 360. If you just want to view your own personal content, Oculus Gallery is no-frills viewer both on your internal device and streaming from media servers (like your computer). Opening YouTube.com in the Oculus Browser produced similar results to Vive Focus, minus the message telling me to install the YouTube app. Also 360 3D videos do work as long as you tell the browser that’s what you’re looking at.
On the WebVR front, Oculus Go is a mixed bag. Everything from ReactVR (Vizor being the one I use the most) works, and that makes sense. ReactVR experiences even default to using your remote as your cursor pointer instead of your center gaze.
Outside of that ecosystem: A-Frame is hit or miss, in theViewer my cursor disappears but it otherwise works, and Krpano and Halo Labs both work. I’m not sure what the magic ingredient is that allows some experiences to function but not others. If you know, please share! (UPDATE: Dan Pollak of Halo Labs has chimed in to report that A-Frame experiences from v0.5.0 or earlier don’t work. The current release, btw, is v0.8.0.)
If you have an Oculus Go, open this article in the Oculus Browser and try these links for yourself:
Did work (opened up a fullscreen 360 experience):
- Hello, WebVR (A-Frame)
- 360 Image (A-Frame)
- 360 Video (A-Frame)
- Anime UI (A-Frame)
- Lights (A-Frame)
- Shopping (A-Frame)
- Testy Test (Halo Labs)
- Agile Lens Examples (theViewer)
- Wood Slat Study (Krpano)
- Lobby Study (Vizor)
Did not work:
- Hello, Metaverse (A-Frame)
- 360 Image Gallery (A-Frame)
- Animation (A-Frame)
- Snowglobe (A-Frame)
- Agile Lens: VR for Architecture (A-Frame)
And just to expand upon what was mentioned in the Screencapture and Streaming section, right now going full screen with a WebVR experience seems to register like opening an app, and stops any recording that might be taking place. No screenshots, video, or streaming of WebVR content.
Speaking of Developer Options, if you’re like me, you’re going to want to go ahead and turn off the safety features present in both the Mirage Solo and the Vive Focus that prevent you from moving the headset more than a couple feet in any direction. I understand why this is on by default — it keeps the average consumer from hurting themselves by walking into stuff, and opens up some incredible graphics possibilities using new tools like Seurat. It also encourages developers to build experiences that can be played seated or standing that favor leaning over walking, and work regardless of where you are… unless you’re on a train. Don’t use the Vive Focus or Mirage Solo on a train, by the way, as anytime there’s a bump or it catches a glimpse out the window, it’s likely to shoot you off a thousand feet in a different direction. It was cool the first time… then not ever again. On a train I’d recommend the Oculus Go.
I’m surprised by how little I’m bothered by the Oculus Go still being 3DoF with the others being 6DoF. Don’t get me wrong, the Vive Focus and Mirage Solo absolutely feel better, but I think what I’ve come to realize is that if you still have a 3DoF controller (all of these do), then in many cases, a 6DoF headset is limited in how much more immersed it can make you feel in an experience.
But let’s be clear — it depends on the experience. My biggest ‘wow’ moment so far happened with the Mirage Solo. I installed all my previous Daydream applications on the device (including the theatre one you can see at the bottom of the page) and after turning on “Force 6DoF” and turning off “Enable Safety Graphics” in the Developer Options, I could just start walking around my old 3DoF experiences, one of which was made nearly two years ago. It was a feeling on par with when I was 12 years old and played a PS1 game on my PS2 for the first time with anti-aliasing enabled: giddy with joy at something old made new again. Only caveat I should mention — in older apps, your hand controller won’t follow you as you move around.
So what type of experience is the Oculus Go best for? Panoramas, 360 video, and anything that prioritizes head or controller rotation above all else. But if something is ever going to make you want to lean or take a couple steps forward, by golly, if you can afford to, do it on the Mirage Solo or Vive Focus. Or, if you’re like me and building apps for very specific people, have a blast building something that will allow someone to wireless walk fifty feet then turn around and come back to where they started. It works, btw; check out Ian Hamilton’s test.
So… what about my VR-ready phone?
I’ll be honest — I think I’m done with GearVR. I’ve had too many technical hiccups, OSIGs are a hassle, and it’s always been a tough product for me to develop on because my IPD is too wide to focus my eyes properly (this is the only major headset I’ve had this problem with). Throw in the fact that the GearVR is really an $800 VR package ($700 phone + $100 headset), and I’ll take the slightly reduced power of a very portable $200 Oculus Go any day of the week. Luckily, our GearVR phone is a Samsung S8+, which is also Daydream compatible.
For Daydream, I’m not going to take the unreasonably bulky Mirage Solo with me everywhere I go. I will likely keep using my phone to develop, and in some cases, demo, Daydream experiences (when 3DoF is appropriate), as another advantage the Daydream ecosystem has over GearVR is the myriad of highly-portable “Cardboard” headsets that can be cheated for use as a Daydream headset. I bring the foldable, pocket-size C-1 Glass headset and a Daydream controller with me nearly everywhere I go, always ready to give a demo if such a request presents itself.
Like my sentiments on the GearVR, I think I’m done with my Gear360. It was… fun, but the grainy resolution and monoscopic nature of it meant I was never getting footage useful at an enterprise level, and it just never felt super immersive. Plus, everything needed to be stitched, and even though that can be done automatically through the app or ActionDirector, it’s a hassle. Compare that to the Mirage Camera which captures stereo 180° at 4k and looks good enough for me to show to a client. Photos and video with this are easily downloaded or uploaded to Google Photos and viewable in Google Daydream, no stitching required.
The fact that you’re getting a left and right eye provides depth perception, and the fact that it’s 180° means you can be behind the camera and not show up in it looking all awkward. I plan on using this to capture architecture project sites, but also… I took a video of my eight-month-old crawling and, in 30 years, I’ll be able to not only revisit him at that moment, but at that size.
Let’s end on a weird note.
Who likes typing with a 3DoF hand controller? Anyone…anyone? No? That’s what I thought. So here’s something I like about the Vive Focus: if you’re typing a password inside a headset, it assumes you’re the only person looking at it, and by golly, it shows you the letters you’re typing. There’s a checkbox for this with both the Oculus Go and Mirage Solo, but you must hit it every time. If you travel a lot and need to connect to a lot of different wifis, well, irksome. My Vive Focus loses points on a similar front, because every time I boot the darn headset, I need to tell it to connect to wifi, even if the password is saved. Additionally, if I want to sign into Viveport, I need to fully sign in again, typing and all. This was not a problem in the blue, Chinese edition of the Vive Focus, so I’m hopeful it will be fixed in the Western consumer release.
And let’s leave it at that.
I hope this has been helpful. I’m super excited to play (ahem, work) more with these devices and see what others do with them. On Thursday May 17, we’ll be demoing a bunch of stuff on all three headsets (plus a Vive Pro and HP Mixed Reality headset) at Propelify on the Hoboken waterfront, so if you’re around, come say hi (I even have some free tickets if you can be quick about asking for them). I will also mention I’m going to be speaking and demoing in Venice (Im-Arch) and London (a bunch of stuff) through June 22, so please reach out if you’d like to say hi.
I’ve been waiting for world-scale 6DoF VR for a while, so much so that I couldn’t wait and found myself experimenting with how to pull it off before the tech had properly caught up. I’ll leave you with a couple tests:
Using a Windows Mixed Reality (read: Virtual Reality) headset and an HP Zbook X2 tablet, here’s world scale tracking with Tilt Brush. While the tablet is technically not supposed to run, it works fine with low-intensity applications, and the freedom of movement is excellent.
Using the camera on a Pixel and ARCore, here’s augmented reality data being used to position a user in world scale space. Sometimes the tracking explodes, but I was surprised how well this worked, particularly considering ARCore (and ARKit for that matter) only uses one camera.
The utility of that prototype has been vastly superseded by the Mirage Solo and the Vive Focus, but I still might find myself in situations where it’s useful to pull out the Zbook and walk around a large space using fully 6DoF controllers. At least until Santa Cruz, or whatever the heck Samsung is up to.
Update 5/18 — Yesterday I woke up at 4 AM to drive a car full of VR equipment to Hoboken, NJ for Propelify. From 9 AM — 9 PM we were showing our demos on the HTC Vive Pro, the HP Windows Mixed Reality headset, and all three of the standalone headsets discussed in this article. Some anecdotes worth sharing:
- Several people, unprompted, went out of their way to comment on how they found the Mirage Solo to be the most comfortable of the headsets. Maybe I have a weirdly-shaped face, or maybe I’m just more bothered by raw foam than most people.
- The Vive Focus was not actually a difficult headset to get on and off many people in a row. The myriad methods to secure everything, I realized, are optional, and in most cases simply loosening and tightening the back knob was enough to get someone up and running (sometimes literally!)
- The Oculus Go remote unpaired itself a couple times and needed the full ‘hold both the ‘Back’ and ‘Oculus’ button down’ reset to re-pair. Chalk it up to being a Developer Kit?
- The white headsets (Vive Focus and Mirage Solo) are quick to show make-up stains and other grime accumulated over the course of a demo day. Some of these stains did not clean easily.
- This was also our first time demoing the Vive Pro headset with many people, so while this article is not about the Vive Pro, I want to mention this nonetheless: several people said they found the Vive Pro blurry. Each time I would check it and it would look fine to me. I would clean the lenses, tell them to adjust the vertical position of the headset on their face, change the IPD, and change the tightness in the back. No luck. These same people tried on the HP Windows MR headset (which has almost no adjustments) and said everything looked sharper! I’m confused.
5. A fun activity we came up with for when people came to our tent with a friend or significant other: having one person put on the Mirage Solo or Vive Focus while the other acts as their seeing-eye-dog. It was very fun to let people explore walking around wirelessly for the first time, and tracking only seemed to be lost when they got too close to flatly-shaded objects (like a wall or a column). Surprisingly, lots of moving people were not a problem.
Update 6/15 — A lot of new features have been released for the Vive Focus with the 2.0 OS release. I’ve only had a chance to play with a couple of them so far but I figured I should post thoughts:
- The pass-through video has surprisingly low latency, lower than the Vive Pro as far as I can tell. The video is black and white instead of color, but I think that’s actually a worthy trade-off. I like how simple it is to toggle this mode on/off: simply do a quick double press of the power button.
- I played with RiftCat, which allows you to stream SteamVR content from your desktop to the Vive Pro. It’s more of a proof of concept right now than anything I would actually show a client, but for anyone with the stomach for the latency, it’s pretty amazing to get these kinds of graphics wirelessly!
Acknowledgments: Thanks to Alexa Antopol, Elizabeth Coulombe, and Chris Kelusak for helping to edit this article for clarity.
- The Vive Focus turns off after four hours of standby. The article originally implied it would stay in standby indefinitely and has been updated accordingly. Thanks to Alvin Wang Graylin for pointing this out.
- The face mask for the Oculus Go is removable and washable. The article originally claimed it was not and has been updated accordingly. Thanks to user Ocnic on Reddit for pointing this out.
- The Oculus Go, like the Vive Focus and Mirage Solo, does detect whether or not your face is pressed against it. The article originally claimed that it did not, but I now understand the consumer release does and there may just be a problem with my Developer Kit. Thanks to Brandon Jones (Toji) for pointing this out in the comments.
- The earlier, Chinese version of the Vive Focus does not seem to have the problems I mentioned with manual reconnecting to wifi and signing out of Viveport. The article has been updated to clarify this. Thanks to Tony Vitillo for pointing this out in the comments.