It's looking like a promising year for virtual reality as the industry is due for a handful of new products, most of which were shown off at CES just this past week. There were some heavy hitter surprises too, as well as official confirmations on some of the hardware that has been waited on by consumers since last year's Google I/O. That in particular, is in reference to the standalone Daydream headset coming from Lenovo, which at the time when it was announced in 2017 was slated for a launch by the end of the year. That time came and went and yet Lenovo had nothing to show off to potential buyers. As of CES though, the headset has been officially unveiled - called the Mirage Solo, and is now expected to be released sometime in the second quarter of the year. There is still no exact launch date, or an exact price, but it is expected to be under $400.
This alone stands to be an exciting VR headset option because it builds on the Daydream platform, but it doesn't require a smartphone to work as everything is self-contained within the headset itself. This is a boon for those who have had to deal with the Daydream View powered by the Pixel and Pixel XL and its heating issues as it tends to get pretty hot after extended use. Without having to pop in a smartphone this shouldn't be a problem.
Beyond the Lenovo Mirage Solo, HTC surprised just about everyone with an update to the Vive lineup. While not necessarily a second-generation model of the original Vive, HTC's recently announced Vive Pro is definitely an upgraded headset, coming with things like native-integrated audio, a new color scheme, adjustable head straps that are more ergonomic, and the most notable improvement, the upgraded displays on the inside of the headset which will provide much better resolution for the user compared to the original HTC Vive. That said, HTC has also confirmed that to take advantage of these improved displays and better visuals, consumers will end up needing a better PC. This means some consumers will need to purchase new hardware, though it is also worth considering that a new PC isn't necessarily required nor is new and better hardware, as the Vive Pro will have the same minimum spec requirements as the Vive if you won't mind forfeiting the much better visuals and higher performance.
In addition to the Vive Pro HTC also announced the highly-anticipated wireless option so that you don't have to plug the headset in. This is a huge benefit as it can help prevent from tripping over cords. The Vive wireless adapter will also work for both the original Vive and the Vive Pro so no matter which headset you have you'll be able to connect up wirelessly and enjoy a less tangled experience.
Another big announcement in the VR arena during CES this past week was the Lenovo Mirage Camera, which was built for the Daydream platform and allows you to capture media content that can then be viewed on a Daydream headset pretty easily, as the pictures that come from it were designed for this purpose specifically. The camera has two 13-megapixel sensors that have a 180-degree field of view, it has 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage space for all the media. On top of all of that it fits into the palm of your hand and is extremely pocketable, so you can really take it with you anywhere and be ready to capture some great photo content to viewed in virtual reality. While this was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of VR hardware and content to show up at CES, these were the biggest and most notable announcements, leaving consumers with much to look forward to.