Standalone VR headsets represent a new headset segment that sits somewhere between smartphone-based VR devices, and tethered, high-end VR systems, while offering some notable advantages over both. In this article we compare three standalone VR devices which will be available worldwide this year: the Oculus Go, Lenovo Mirage Solo, and HTC Vive Focus.

The main appeal of standalone VR is the self-contained hardware design. By integrating the processor, battery, and all the required visual, audio, and tracking technology into the headset, they provide the tetherless freedom of mobile VR in an optimised design that breaks free of the constraints of smartphones. In the future, standalone VR could offer something closer to current high-end VR—Oculus Santa Cruz features a Rift-like design and dual 6DOF controllers, and Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 reference design supports dual 6DOF controllers using an ultrasonic solution—but the three headsets covered below are less sophisticated, while some have 6DOF head-tracking, all featuring a single 3DOF controller which stands as a limiting factor compared to the types of experiences you’d expect from the high-end PC and console headsets.

Oculus Go – Value Oriented


Image courtesy Oculus

At $200, the Oculus Go is set to be the most affordable device of the three by a significant margin. This compelling price point is the result of some key hardware decisions, most notably the omission of positional (6DOF) tracking. Using rotational (3DOF) headset tracking, and including a single 3DOF controller with a trigger, trackpad, a couple of buttons, the hardware and software essentially operates like a Samsung Gear VR, and will share the same library of games and apps from Oculus.

For owners of a compatible Samsung smartphone, the Gear VR shell remains the best value proposition, but for everyone else, the Go will be the cheapest way to access Gear VR content. And thanks to its dedicated design, the Go is also expected to offer a better experience than any Gear VR, with superior ergonomics, performance, and visuals. Its “next generation” Fresnel lenses offer a larger field of view than a Gear VR, and the 1,280 × 1,440 (per eye) “fast-switch LCD” can be clocked at 72Hz rather than the standard 60Hz, giving some applications an extra boost in visual performance. Given that this headset uses a single display, there’s no IPD adjustment available.

According to the official site, the price is “starting at $199” and the release date is “early 2018.” It has been suggested that the launch date could coincide with Facebook’s F8 conference, which begins May 1st.

Want to know more? Check out Everything We Know About Oculus Go (so far).

Lenovo Mirage Solo – Premium Daydream VR

Image courtesy Lenovo

Based on Google’s standalone Daydream VR reference design, the Mirage Solo could be seen as the Daydream version of the Oculus Go, in that it is a dedicated device, sharing the same VR app library with Daydream-ready smartphones.

The Mirage Solo’s $400 price point puts it a twice the cost of the go, and there are two clear reasons why: it uses a more powerful Snapdragon 835 SoC, and it features 6DOF inside-out headset tracking. This means instead of being limited to rotational movement, you’ll be able to lean in all directions, and even physically walk around, which could be a significant advantage if apps can be built with more movement in mind. However, the controller is still limited to 3DOF tracking, and the current Daydream library is optimised for a 3DOF tracking experience. This means that the inclusion of 6DOF might not result in a dramatic change in app design (at least in the short term), but it is a certainly a welcome feature for comfort and immersion; positional tracking simply feels more natural in all scenarios, including seated experiences.

Much like the Oculus Go, the Mirage Solo also uses a 1,280 × 1,440 (per eye) LCD operating at a higher refresh rate than the various 60Hz Daydream-ready smartphones, in this case at 75Hz. And similarly, the dedicated design has many optimisations for comfort and performance, with Fresnel lenses offering a wider field of view than typical mobile VR headsets. Like the Oculus Go, there’s no IPD adjustment available on the Solo because it uses a single display.

The Mirage Solo is due to launch on May 5th in the US, priced at $400.

Want to know what it’s like to use the Mirage Solo? Check out our latest hands-on for a detailed look.

HTC Vive Focus – Best-in-Class Displays and new Content Platform

Image courtesy HTC

Much like the Mirage Solo, the Vive Focus features inside-out 6DOF tracking for the headset, and a single, 3DOF controller. It is also based on the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. However, HTC believes the Focus is the more “premium” option, as it uses the same lenses and displays as the Vive Pro, albeit running at 75Hz rather than 90Hz. The Vive Focus offers best-in-class resolution with its dual 1,600 × 1,440 OLED panels, and a physical IPD adjustment which lets users dial in the position of the lenses to match the width between their eyes—both notable features over the Go and Mirage Solo.

As we’ve seen on PC with the Vive Pro, these displays require serious horsepower to take full advantage of the higher resolution, which could explain why the Focus also contains a fan to actively cool the Snapdragon 835 chip, which will surely be under more strain in certain rendering situations than the Mirage Solo.

One place where the Vive Focus is likely in need of catching up compared to the Oculus Go and Mirage Solo is in the content department. While the Go taps into the pre-existing library of Gear VR content and the Mirage Solo uses Daydream, HTC is spinning up a new content ecosystem for the Focus, a mobile version of their Viveport VR app store. Only so far open to the Asian market for a few months by now, we expect it’ll take time for HTC to curate the same breath and quality of mobile VR apps seen from Oculus and Daydream.

The Vive Focus is already available in China, and based on the exchange rate could launch in the US at around $525; HTC plans a slower rollout in Western markets, initially making the headset available as a development kit.

Want to know what it’s like to use the Mirage Solo? Check out our latest hands-on for a detailed look.

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The trial version of Microsoft’s Monster Truck Madness probably had something to do with it. And certainly the original Super Mario Kart and Gran Turismo. A car nut from an early age, Dominic was always drawn to racing games above all other genres. Now a seasoned driving simulation enthusiast, and former editor of Sim Racer magazine, Dominic has followed virtual reality developments with keen interest, as cockpit-based simulation is a perfect match for the technology. Conditions could hardly be more ideal, a scientist once said. Writing about simulators lead him to Road to VR, whose broad coverage of the industry revealed the bigger picture and limitless potential of the medium. Passionate about technology and a lifelong PC gamer, Dominic suffers from the ‘tweak for days’ PC gaming condition, where he plays the same section over and over at every possible combination of visual settings to find the right balance between fidelity and performance. Based within The Fens of Lincolnshire (it’s very flat), Dominic can sometimes be found marvelling at the real world’s ‘draw distance’, wishing virtual technologies would catch up.
  • ShiftyInc

    Why would anyone buy something like this that costs $400 to $500, when you can get an actual VR headset for that price. Oculus has the right idea here to make it cheap and of quality as well. Plus not to mention you get instant access with the Go to 1000+ app and games.

    • Ian Shook

      Wireless is huge.

      • ShiftyInc

        Sure, but all 3 are wireless. and all pretty much do the same exact thing. So someone who wants to get it’s feet wet will go straight for a Go rather then something that is double or more that money. Not to mention it also has the most content out of the gate.

        • Ian Shook

          I should have been more specific. Wireless 6DOF is huge. I’m not personally interested in 3DOF.

          • ShiftyInc

            For us tech geeks it’s huge, but if your looking at mainstream they do not care. They want the cheapest model with the most content to consume. Just look how much use VR with only their phone right now, it is the biggest market right now. And to be honest, i rather save my money and buy a Vive or Rift in the future that is wireless then this middle of the road kind of thing.

        • dk

          your head being pinned in spot with 3dof is a neat demo ……a real vr experience is when u can move your head and walk around the virtual space

          • Guest

            i think your head got pinned onto the idea that 3DOF is head being pinned on to one spot. No it isnt.

          • dk

            it’s literally the same as a 3dof cardboard headset ……your head is in a single spot and all u can do is look around ….basically like u r paralyzed
            …….it’s a neat optimized gearvr ….if that’s what u want ….and without head movement and freedom to walk around it’s not a real vr experience

          • Guest

            no your or mine head isnt paralysed. 3DOF doesnt offer the same level of movement as 6DOF but that doesnt mean your or my head is paralysed. There is head movement. While 6DOF is ideal, 3DOF has it place because a lot of people still havent tried 6DOF and a lot of them still havent tried VR itself, so they wont find this limiting. But can find it enjoyable, if everybody tries 6DOF from the beginning, what next? If people enjoy VR step by step beginning with the low end stuff they can enjoy VR for many years as advances happen, but if everybody samples high end VR from the beginning, there wont be as much to look forward to in VR. I think 3DOF, partial 6DOF and full 6DOF headsets all have their place.

          • Guest

            as a lot of people have tried 3DOF too and want 6DOF, like you and some other people here.

          • dk

            like I said just looking around is neat just like it’s neat on a gearvr or 3dof daydream
            3dof is a stopgap on the way of getting the actual vr experience where u can move your head around and walk around in the virtual reality
            3dof will die as soon as the sd835 gets as cheap as the sd821 and they add 2 cheap cameras

          • Guest

            ”like I said just looking around is neat just like it’s neat on a gearvr or 3dof daydream”

            This is aimed mostly at people who havent tried VR. That is also why it is priced at 199. It may not offer more features like high end VR but I doubt it is just a demo.

            ”3dof is a stopgap on the way of getting the actual vr experience where u can move your head around and walk around in the virtual reality”

            I never disagreed that it is a stop gap. But people need to enjoy imo the stop gap before they get to the real thing if they havent tried VR at all. And this is just 199, and one can also watch stuff like TV/ movies comfortably using these if they still think 199 is a lot for only 3DOF VR. Launching this and buying this seems like a no brainer for people who havent tried VR and dont own a samsung flagship phone or rift/valve.

            ”3dof will die as soon as the sd835 gets as cheap as the sd821 and they add 2 cheap cameras”

            Sad but true. So they need to hurry up.

          • dk

            it’s a demo in the sense that …….3dof is just a stopgap on the way of getting full tracking where u can move your head in the virtual space and walk around……and than 3dof will be over

            ……if 3dof never goes away and 6dof is never almost as cheap as 3dof than it won’t be a stop gap “demo” thing

            …….as far as consuming media and having some neat games it will be pretty great …the point was a real vr experince is 6dof …..not to mention high refresh rate ….but the mobile headsets r not that great at that for now

            and the funny thing is it’s coming out when a bunch of 6dof headsets r coming out and people r praising this all in one gearvr as if it can give u a real vr experience

    • beestee

      Cost is not apples to apples here. Add in the cheapest PC you could build with the VR headset cost and you are well above these entry level all-in-one devices.

      Similar logic applies to the Nintendo Switch really. You can get more grunt from other consoles at the same price, but you don’t get portability or integrated display with the others.

      • airball

        True, but I think the main reason someone gets a Switch is the unrivaled library of first-party titles they are essentially guaranteed over the life of the platform.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          Those few first party games which mostly are sequels anyway? And Zelda was even available at the Wii-U.

          • airball

            Agreed, Zelda was available on the Wii-U, yet the attach rate of Zelda to Switches was greater than 1 at launch! People were buying the game before they could find the system, myself included. ‘Sequel’ or not, it drove the Switch to success. Mario has an incredibly high attach rate too. And because of those first party titles’ success, the indie community is now thriving on Switch, too. Such a good comeback story after the Wii-U!

    • NooYawker

      I had an old PC so I built a new one powerful enough to run VR. I went top of the line but you’ll have to spend over $1,000 easy just to hit bottom specs for the Vive or Oculus. Plus you can wear it anywhere.

      Just because it’s portable it doesn’t have to be crappy, The Oculus GO and Lenovo are basically phone components strapped to some goggles. The HTC Focus is an actual VR headset.

    • 1. You don’t need a PC
      2. You’re free of cables

      • ShiftyInc

        Sure i get that of course. But i mean why would you spend $400 to $500 on a wireless headset, when you can get one which pretty much does the exact same thing for $200. And like the article mentioned, you even will be in a content drought when you purchase the most expensive one.

        • lhl

          The $200 option only has 3DOF (rotational) not 6DOF (positional) HMD tracking, which is quantum leap of difference (something that lets you turn your head around vs walking around in a space). GearVR-level experiences aren’t terrible, but will make you go “hmm, that’s neat” rather than convincing you that VR really might be the future of computing (which IMO, 6DOF does). You should try out both types of VR before assuming they’re the same type of experience.

          With the Vive Focus you are paying a bit more for better resolution, contrast/motion pixel quality (w/ OLED) and for physically adjustable IPD, which seems fair, in terms of price.

          • ShiftyInc

            Sure, but again. This is for the mainstream market and they are not going to check if something has 3DOF or 6DOF. They see this one is $200 and the other ones won’t even be sold in stores. And the majority of people will not care if they can just move their head vs walking in vr. They just want to expierence vr for the cheapest price. And they will get that with the Go.

          • lhl

            Your original post was asking why someone would spend more. Your second response was arguing that people just won’t know the difference or care – two very different things. Most people will (have been getting) terrible mobile VR – they watch some badly done stereoscopic porn and some ultra-low bitrate youtube 360 videos and go well, I don’t know what the fuss about and the headset goes into the gadget closet and we’ll have to wait for Apple to “invent” VR in a couple of years for them to really experience what actual VR has to offer. As a 3DOF device, I don’t think the Go really changes that or is really doing the future VR market any favors, but ¯_(ツ)_/¯

          • NooYawker

            The cheapest will always sell more, that shouldn’t stop companies from producing quality products for people that want them.

          • Marcus

            Move your head? It’s turn your head. Move your head beyond turning and risk getting sick. And without IPD adjustment it´s all fuzzy if your eye-to-eye distance is somewhat greater or smaller than average.

          • BrianCalhoun
          • Guest

            The same reason 400 dollar phones of the same size as 200 dollar phones still sell. People look at the features on the boxes/from ads, and/or talk to other people about which is better and from the knowledge gleaned some of them will buy the one with more features.

          • BrianCalhoun
          • ben2

            6dof is a useless feature till it comes without position tracked controllers (ie. real roomscale) and decent software support. Oculus is smart to keep gearVR compatibility, since they avoided the “chicken or egg” problem of “content or hardware first” with the Go.

      • Lou Wallace

        Pico neo totally ignored, roadtovr quality journalism done got ballparked by pepperidge farms.

    • dk

      in a year when the snapdragon 835 is as cheap as go’s 821 ….even the crappiest/cheapest headsets like go will have 6dof because all u have to add to it is 2 cheap cameras
      ….3 dof headsets need to die and it will happen pretty soon ….your head being pinned in one place is not a true vr experience it’s just a neat demo

    • Khalil Vennie

      Too bad Oculus is Zucced.

  • I’ve tried the Focus and I like it. But $500+ is surely not a price for mainstream adoption

  • Lucidfeuer

    None of these headset make sense except the Go. It’s good that inside-out tracking is getting there for mobile, but without a/two 6-DOF controller/s it’s completely useless, especially at these prices.

    By making a cheap “standalone GearVR”, Oculus made the only interesting release this year, but damn those annoying unergonomic and unconfortable straps instead of crowns…are Oculus too cheap to licence the design from whoever has the patent, lest create their own?

  • Firestorm185

    HTC Focuses on premium… hah….. get it?

    • NooYawker

      I get it.

  • patrick freeman

    better to wait a dual 6dof solution.

  • Peter Hansen

    “Given that this headset uses a single display, there’s no IPD adjustment available.”

    Hm. I always thought it is only the lenses that get shifted. No?

  • Ted Joseph

    Enjoying the GO so far. Haven’t touched my Rift since I received the GO. It is relaxing to sit in bed and watch Boxing in VR, play games with the controller under my blanket, and not have to see the sensors, etc. etc. . . Would like the FOV to be greater (200deg), and the battery to last 6 hours, but I am happy with where we are at today. Here hoping for the future!