Tech for your connected self

Oculus Go v Lenovo Mirage Solo: Which standalone VR headset is best for you?

We compare the two wireless headsets on design, features and price

In case you've been out of the loop, you should know that virtual reality headsets are changing.

No longer do you have to make the tough decision between ultra-expensive, PC-powered headsets and the more limited medium of smartphone VR. Heavens, no – now you can bask in the wonderful world of standalone VR and the midpoint it provides. And two of the first devices to come to this burgeoning area are the Oculus Go and Lenovo's Mirage Solo.

Wareable verdict: Oculus Go review | Lenovo Mirage Solo review

Since we're dealing with fairly fresh technology here, it pays to know the difference between the major headsets. That's why we're here to do the hard work for you. Read on below to see how these two compare on design, features, battery life and the all-important price.

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Oculus Go v Lenovo Mirage Solo: Design

While the more essential side of any VR headset is naturally how it performs with the user under the hood, it's worth offering a word on design, and most notably how the two compare in terms of fit.

Since both are standalone headsets, there are obviously no wires to speak of here, meaning setup is markedly more simple than the faff involved with high-end headsets. However, the pair do differ in their overall design.

The Mirage Solo (below) offers the look of something in between PlayStation VR and Google's own Daydream View headset, and it's far from the lightest we've put on our head. At 645g, this is something you're likely to notice during longer sessions of use, and though the head strap is comfortable and can be adjusted to balance out some of this weight, things are still heavy.

That's not quite the case with the Oculus Go, which weighs in at 470g. It might not sound like the biggest difference, but, trust us, it's something you definitely notice when jumping from one to the other.

Things aren't locked in in quite the same way, as there's no plastic head strap, but you'll still get support on the top of your head and around the back. This means it isn't quite as simple to lock in place, but the lack of weight also means you don't feel the constant urge to adjust it. It's very similar to the Samsung Gear VR.

You'd think that would make the Oculus the clear winner in this regard, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you? Well, for some, that actually may not be the case. As we discovered during testing, the Go has the same unsavoury nose gap as you'll find on the Daydream View, meaning that you'll constantly have light filtering in near your schnoz.

Read next: Standalone VR headsets explained

It's not a universal issue – it really depends on the shape of your face – but three of the four Wareable team members to try out the headset have found it to be a problem. Maybe it's not a complete deal-breaker, but it's probably not something to turn your, ahem, nose up at.

In terms of sound, it's also worth pointing out that the Solo doesn't have built-in audio, meaning you'll have to plug into the headphone jack (yes, they're still a thing) located on the side in order to access this. You can also do this on the Go, but you're more handily given the option of using the headset's speakers.

Oculus Go v Lenovo Mirage Solo: Features

Oculus Go v Lenovo Mirage Solo: Which standalone VR headset is best?

Now, let's get down to the crux of these devices. In terms of display specs, the two headsets come in at the same level, offering a combined resolution of 2560 x 1440, while the Go offers a more slightly more expansive field of view than the Samsung Gear VR (thanks to the Fresnel lenses used) and the Solo clocks in with a 110-degree FoV.

Internally, though, there's quite a bit of difference. The Oculus packs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor from 2016, compared to the Solo's newer Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, and the Oculus also comes up shorter on storage – you'll get 32GB on the standard Go model compared to the Solo's 64GB storage and microSD capabilities, though you can double this up by paying a further $50. In truth, while it lacks on paper, we've found 32GB to be more than enough for standard use.

More standalone: HTC Vive Focus review

And generally, we haven't got any big complaints with the visuals or performance of either headset, though we would say that the Solo pips the Go slightly in terms of picture quality.

There most notable difference between the two, though, and one that will actually affect your experience the most, is six degrees of freedom (6DoF) – or rather the lack thereof in the Oculus.

Thanks to the two cameras on the front and Google's WorldSense technology, you'll be able to walk around the space in VR and receive inside-out tracking using the Mirage Solo. Now, don't get carried away, it's not room-scale tracking in the same way as you may have experienced with the likes of HTC Vive Pro – you'll only be getting around 1.5 square metres to play with – but it certainly adds a level of immersion that the Go lacks. Well, for the apps that are currently taking advantage, anyway. We expect many more Daydream developers to get on board with the feature once it comes to more headsets.

Oculus Go v Lenovo Mirage Solo: Which standalone VR headset is best?

As we say, it's a different story on the Go. While you want to take advantage of the lack of wires by diving around your space and experiencing some depth, the 3DoF means you're much more restricted.

However, while you're granted added immersion through the Lenovo headset, it doesn't extend itself through the controller. Both included controllers are only 3DoF (orientation, gyroscope, accelerometer), which does mean those creating experiences involving the controllers are limited somewhat.

And, while we're talking about creating stuff for these headsets, let's add a quick note on the apps at your disposal. Oculus has done a really nice job of filling its store with over 1,000 apps, games and videos, and this beats out the Google Daydream experience, which, while steadily improving, is in need of more games for users. Both will naturally progress as the life cycle wears on, but the general interface provided by Oculus is still our favourite.

Oculus Go v Lenovo Mirage Solo: Battery

These two headsets don't differ too greatly when it comes to battery life, though during our testing we noticed the Go would come in just under the Mirage's two and a half hours.

And while both do give you quite an extended run – after all, spending a couple of hours in VR is probably enough for one sitting – it can be a bit frustrating to have to charge it after pretty much every use; especially when you consider that the Go, for example, takes around three hours to hit full charge again.

It's also not ideal if you're with a group of friends, say, and want to pass it between a few people. A dead headset is no way to win your chums over to the wonders of standalone VR.


Oculus Go v Lenovo Mirage Solo: Price

It's all well and good offering fancy features or a crisp design, but money talks, and we suspect this is the biggest point of contention for potential buyers.

The Oculus Go will only set you back $199, which is mightily impressive considering this is essentially first generation technology, while the Lenovo Mirage Solo will burn a hole double that size. Yes, double. At $399, the headset is getting into Oculus Rift/HTC Vive territory (without the cost of a PC, of course), and that's a bitter pill to swallow when it offers a largely comparable experience to the Go.

Verdict

You're getting a good experience no matter which headset you plump for here, but, in our view, the Oculus Go is the better choice overall. The price is undeniably a huge factor, and this, along with the fact it offers strong visuals and a more fleshed out software experience than the Mirage Solo, makes it easier to ignore some of its shortcomings.

That's not to say the Mirage doesn't have a market, though – it does. If you have your heart set on 6DoF tracking, want the best standalone visuals (even though there's not much in it) and can stomach the jump in price, you likely won't regret your decision.


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