The Pixel 2 started dropping frames, so I retired Daydream View without anyone really playing with it. A family member visited Pennywise’ house in Gear VR, but there was a pop up sitting between the player and his world the whole time that I couldn’t figure out how to dismiss quickly. Gear VR was next to be eliminated in this VR battle royale.
Mirage Solo’s two major upgrades over Oculus Go performed well. Chromecast integration made it easy to see what the person in VR sees. When a family member needed help figuring out what to do it was as simple as looking over at the TV to see what’s going on and offer help. The addition of positional tracking in some apps also made me more confident Mirage Solo wouldn’t make anyone sick. I found it almost magical to turn the headset on and immediately have the freedom to move my head around. For two years now I’ve been setting up external tracking equipment for the consumer Oculus Rift and HTC Vive and, finally in 2018, the Mirage Solo does this on its own. But, alas, the Mirage Solo was retired eventually too as I ran out of things I wanted to show people.
The VR battle royale ended with a clear winner: Oculus Go.
Overall, there’s such a dearth of content on the Mirage Solo that there isn’t a search button. You can find a combination of YouTube videos and available apps from a series of panels hanging in mid-air
, and that’s it. There’s also no Google Chrome browser available on the Lenovo Mirage Solo. This, in my view, is a show-stopping omission. Sure you can get to YouTube videos but what about the rest of the Web? Update May 11: Clay Bavor, the head of VR at Google, said “stay tuned” regarding Chrome being formally added to the Mirage Solo, and it’s actually possible to get the app installed via instructions here.
And on that point, watching Netflix or surfing the web hands-free with Oculus Go in bed is very relaxing. It’s as if you’ve installed a big screen TV right on your ceiling and it even comes with a nice Internet browser. The $250 64GB Oculus Go includes the same amount of storage as the $400 Mirage Solo, and the Solo can be expanded with extra storage via micro SD card. It’s a nice inclusion alongside the added head tracking and Chromecast integration, but doesn’t do enough to justify a $150 expense over Oculus Go.
For most buyers, a $400 gadget you don’t use very much is a lot harder to justify than $200. Update (May 11): The discovery that Android apps can be installed on Mirage Solo, along with Google Chrome, is an important enough hidden feature that, alongside the Chromecast integration and better tracking, could convince some buyers to pick up the more expensive headset. Read this post for an updated look at these additional features.
In fact, I don’t think I’d recommend Mirage Solo even if it was offered at the same price as Oculus Go. Overall, Mirage Solo lacking an included Internet browser is going to make the device less useful than Oculus Go for many people. It’s just too convenient to check a few sites between visits to worlds, and that’s not even accounting for easy access to Web-based worlds through the Oculus browser. The absence of Chrome is an astonishing omission for a device powered by Google. I take it as a sign the tech giant decided to hold its inclusion until Google produces more capable standalone hardware that can run software like Job Simulator and Tilt Brush. For now, though, I think most people will find Oculus Go offering enough content and features to make its occasional use worth the investment. Mirage Solo just doesn’t offer the same value.