Standalone VR Headset Comparison: Oculus, Vive, Lenovo and Pico

by Ian Hamilton • February 14th, 2018

Standalone headsets represent an enormous leap forward for VR technology, with companies like Google, Facebook and HTC early to market.

An all-in-one VR headset, or standalone, puts everything in the headband needed to convince you that you’re in another world. It is a single integrated piece of hardware, like a phone or tablet.

The first VR headsets available to consumers require multiple pieces to work. This includes Rift, Vive, Gear VR, Daydream View, Cardboard, PlayStation VR and Windows-based VR headsets. In contrast, a single piece of hardware purpose-built for VR, and VR alone, means VR is always ready to transport you. Standby modes will be common, keeping these headsets ready 24/7.

Standalones are wireless. It is helpful to understand, however, not all wireless VR headsets are standalones. Some systems beam information wirelessly from nearby PCs or consoles, and others use wired packs that clip to clothing or slip in a pocket. Some dreamers hope a true standalone with processor, graphics, display, storage and tracking all in the headband will offer additional modes to be more flexible. So maybe you could use a battery pack for longer durations in VR, or maybe you’d use a nearby PC wirelessly for more visually impressive virtual worlds.

The first standalones vary considerably. Some only let you sit down or stand in place. Other all-in-one VR headsets let you move around more but are limited in terms of collision detection or hand controls. Eventually a system will combine great hand controls with safety features like object avoidance, but for now here’s an overview of what we know.

Oculus Go ($200)

Features: Seated or standing only, single hand controller that lets you point but not reach, LCD display, Snapdragon 821.

We haven’t gotten to try this headset yet, but the incredible starting price is the standout feature. A leaked photo seems to hint at another major selling point — a robust content library brought over from Gear VR with more than 1,000 apps, games and movies.

Lenovo Mirage Solo ($400)

Features: Walk-around freedom within a small space, no collision detection, single hand controller that lets you point but not reach, LCD display, Snapdragon 835.

This Google-powered system adds movement freedom to Daydream apps but limits that freedom to a diameter of 1.5 meters. Everything fades to black when you step outside that space. I tried the Lenovo Mirage Solo very briefly at CES and it was nice to be able to move around. But what content works well when you can move your head around freely, but not your hands?

Vive Focus ($635*)

Features: Walk-around freedom in a 2 meter space and the option to turn the safety barrier off for larger spaces, no collision detection, single hand controller that lets you point but not reach, OLED display, Snapdragon 835.

I also tried Vive Focus briefly at CES and its visuals were impressive enough to make ducking projectiles a fun and comfortable experience. If you use Focus with a MicroSD card and lots of storage, it could work well as a private movie theater for folks who travel by plane or train frequently. This also might be a common use case for Mirage Solo and Oculus Go.

*Local taxes included in the price of the Vive Focus.

Oculus Santa Cruz (TBD)

Features: Walk-around freedom, two point and reach hand controllers, collision detection unknown, display unknown and chipset unknown.

This prototype headset, shown at Oculus Connect 4, is so far the best standalone experience I’ve tried. Facebook’s careful placement of cameras allow the device to occasionally see when the controllers are in awkward positions. This reduces the number of times when you might lose tracking on your hands. Oculus says it will deliver developer kits in 2018.

Pico Neo ($750)

Features: Walk-around freedom with a default boundary set at 0.8 meters and the option to expand, two point and reach hand controllers, LCD display, Snapdragon 835. Pico claims a safety boundary can also be added at the application level with collision detection.

We reviewed the earlier Pico Goblin, and while it was the first broadly available standalone it also lacked a large, well-known content store like Oculus Home or Steam to back its efforts. Pico Neo aims to again be first, this time offering two point and reach controllers in a consumer standalone. In our hands-on time at CES, we found a crisp display, but we are concerned about the quality of the controller tracking. Pico Neo will also have access to the Viveport-powered Vive Wave store, and others, to supplement content concerns for users.

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  • dk

    Oculus Go 32/64 also known as gear vr …..200/250-280

  • daveinpublic

    Good roundup of all the info

  • Rogue Transfer

    It’s worth noting that Oculus Go will be based on the 2 year old mobile phone Snapdragon 821 platform – which is underpowered compared to the others here which feature more recent and powerful mobile hardware. Not to mention its lack of an SD slot and USB side-loading hasn’t been guaranteed. This would limit you to streaming & store content only. With only 32GB storage at that price, it’ll be highly limiting compared to the competition, as well as quickly obsoleted.

    • Doctor Bambi

      Personally I’m not too concerned about that 821 processor when you factor in performance gains from cutting out all the background phone processes and adding better cooling.

      But I am concerned about the lack of an SD card slot. Watching movies is going to be a huge use case for Go. It was Oculus’ own research that showed 50% of GearVR activity is dedicated to watching video content. Seeing as we’ll not have access to data networks on this device, it’ll be crucial to give users a way to access video content without having to rely on shoddy wifi networks (the stuff you run into pretty much anytime you travel anywhere). Hopefully they allow USB side loading otherwise it’s going to be the most requested feature by a mile.

    • dk

      the 64gb will be like 250-280

  • Nice roundup. The Pico Neo really excited me, but the reviews about its controllers are not enthusiastic as you yourself have written. There is a reason if Vive China president talking with me has said that the Focus has not two 6 DOF controllers because they didn’t manage in creating a solution that worked well.

    • Plus, “Neo” will cost $700. NOBODY is buying that! lol
      2nd gen standalones, like “Santa Cruz”, won’t be near that expensive.

      • dk

        if u think Santa Cruz will be cheaper than at least 600 ….u r dreaming
        that won’t be based on a 2 years old phone processor with less than 20gb left from the os ….not to mention positional tracking…..and the 4 cameras and controllers will be super demeaning on the hardware already struggling to run mobile optimised games at something like 75hz
        ….but if it has optional pc input and higher frequency in that mode it would be a killer thing

        • Justin Davis

          The cameras and controllers will call the processor inferior, weak, and not fit to perform for them.

        • ZeePee

          Santa Cruz is apparently using the snapdragon 835.

          I dont think Oculus don’t want to sell a VR system for more than 600.

          Santa Cruz will be 500-600 imo.

          • dk

            4 camera feeds tracking the world and 2 controllers and everything running somewhat smoothly ….hmm the platform might be even better than the snapdragin 845 if u ask me…..like some apu similar to the partnership between intel and amd announced for really slim light laptops ……but I guess maybe it could possibly be based on a 845

            …..it looks like a really premium device ….the oculus go is just a gearvr with snapdragon 821 that’s why it’s cheap

  • gothicvillas

    Point but not reach… no need to read further

  • impurekind

    Wow! Oculus is utterly trouncing the competition in terms of price.

    • dk

      oculus go is a fancy gear vr with snapdragon 821….nothing more …and the 64gb version will be 250-280
      …..everything else can do actual vr ….but at least in a year when the snapdragon 835 is cheaper ….the cheapest headsets will have 6dof too

    • ipodderx

      They are also severely underpowered too. Oculus Go is basically a Gear VR+, while the rest are a league above and nearing PSVR power

      • Walextheone

        They? Go is perhaps another segment than the expensive Pico Neo but I seriously doubt the Santa Cruz will be less powerful

  • Wyrd

    Well none of this was encouraging. Guess I’m happy with what I’ve got!

  • Courtney A Jeff

    I would like to see more christians get into vr.I do see why they would be standoffish because there are so many mockers and bullies that only defensiveless persecute any sign of Christian.Praise Jesus!

    • ZeePee

      I’m a Christian!

      I have an Oculus Rift, and it’s amazing. I’ve always loved technology and have been waiting for VR.

      As a christian, like anything in the world, you have to be careful.

      VR is a very powerful tool. We can enjoy it, if God allows you, but remember that it takes you away from reality, and we should always make sure we spend time with God and love him than anything within the world.

      And amen, praise Yeshua Messiah!

      • Courtney A Jeff

        Thanks for your insight and sharing your faith.Very encouraging.Praise Jesus!

  • Courtney A Jeff

    Has anyone got the oculus or vive to play windows mixed reality game? I know mixed reality can play vive and oculus but I would like to play those windows mixed reality games and the virtual room.

  • Courtney A Jeff

    Can windows mixed reality work with every steam application as oculus can?

  • Courtney A Jeff

    Praise Jesus!

  • dk

    youtuDOTbe/qaa8aPi8qNY vive focus test