Home Blog Page 3

Best Laptops for Portable VR and MR

0
Best Laptops for portable VR and MR

It used to be thought that laptops weren’t capable of handling high-end virtual reality or mixed reality. Both the Rift and the Vive, as well as Windows Mixed Reality headsets, require heavy duty computers to run the programs that are compatible with VR or Windows mixed reality.

The reason VR or MR require such high end computers is that the computer has to turn out high resolution frames in real time for the dual screens over each eye. Not only that, but the refresh rate in VR or MR has to be much higher than on a PC’s monitor, for example. All this adds up to heavy demands in performance, and only a good PC can handle it. Or that used to be the established idea.

Can laptops handle virtual reality or mixed reality?

Laptops have certain strong advantages over personal computers in that they are mobile and use very little power. That said, there are certainly laptops that can and will handle VR or MR apps compatible with the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, as well as with Windows mixed reality headsets.


The Acer Aspire V Nitro

Acer has recently boosted the Aspire with a range of new upgrades that increase both speed and connectivity. The new edition has specifications that are impressive by any standards. That said, this would be a good choice for someone who wants a laptop for VR, as the laptops retail at very reasonable prices for a VR-MR laptop. So what are the specifications of this laptop?

The Acer Aspire V Nitro

For one, you will have a seventh-generation CPU from Intel, namely, the i7-7700HQ. Your GPU will be NVIDIA1060. That means you’ll have 6 GB of GDDR5 video memory. This setup also has 16 GB in DDR4 RAM. The display is 15 inches wide, and supports a resolution of 1920 x 1080. You’ll have USB-C ports, as well as USB-A, Ethernet and HDMI. The laptop has a fingerprint sensor that allows you to use Windows Hello.

Check out the best Acer Aspire V Nitro deals


Razer Blade

This is a brilliant configuration that is only slightly more costly than the previous one, and also is extremely thin, something that Razer has more or less specialized in. In this case, the laptop body is less than an inch thick.

razer blade

But what are its specifications like?

The Core is an i7 from Intel, just like with the previous laptop. The rest of the specifications are also exactly the same, with an NVIDIA 1060 as GPU, 6 GB in DDR5 video RAM, and 16 GB in DDR4 RAM. The display is 14 inches wide, which is actually a little smaller than the previous laptop, so the slightly increased price is actually for the extreme slimness of this particular laptop. However, if these specifications don’t satisfy you, there is a more powerful (an expensive!) version of the Razer Blade, called the Razer Blade Pro.

Check out the best Razer Blade deals


ASUS ROG G752VS

This is a dedicated graphics laptop which has an extremely powerful i7-7820HK processing core. Its 16 GB of DDR4 RAM is overclocked for maximum efficiency. All this is complimented by an NVIDIA GTX 1070 GPU and 8 GB of DDR5 video RAM.

ASUS ROG G725VS

This laptop has a lovely 17 inch display that refreshes at 120 Hertz and is completely compatible with G-SYNC. Bear in mind that this laptop will actually need an external cooling system if you’re running it for applications that are very resource intensive, as of course, VR and MR are.

Check out the best ASUS ROG G752VS deals


ASUS ROG Strix GL502VS

This is a very cost effective laptop that is an excellent deal at its asking price. Its heart is an Intel i7-7700HQ that can easily be clocked to 3.8 GHz. The GPU is variable, and can either be an NVIDIA 1060 or an NVIDIA 1070, either of which is perfectly capable of running VR or MR applications.

ASUS ROG Strix GL502VS

You get 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, and a fifteen and a half inch display with a resolution of 1920×1080. As I said, this is a cost effective ASUS option, and it should still run VR or MR applications smoothly.

Check out the best ASUS ROG Strix GL502 deals


Alienware 17

The heart of this laptop is a cutting edge Intel i7-7820HK processor. The quad-cores can be clocked to 4.4 GHz. This configuration has plenty of RAM, with 32 GB of DDR4. The GPU is an NVIDIA GTX 1080.

dell_alienware_i7_7820hk_32gb_1tb

It has around 8 GB of GDDR5 video RAM, so all in all, this configuration should give you an excellent experience running most VR or MR applications. If mobility is a criteria, then the 17 inch display might possibly be considered too large, in which case the Alienware 15 is smaller and more portable.

Get the best Alienware 17 deals


MSI GS63VR

As the name implies, this is a VR-dedicated laptop that can handle most applications associated with VR – or with mixed reality, for that matter. Its processor is an Intel i7-7700HQ that clocks in at around 2.8GHz. For RAM it has 16 GB of DDR4, and its GPU is a GTX 1060 that has 6 GB of on-board DDR5 video RAM.

MSI GS63VR

The standard display is 15.6 inches, and has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, but this can be pushed to a 4K resolution if you have the money to spare. If you’re going to use the laptop for VR or MR, however, we wouldn’t recommend it, as you won’t be using the display much anyway.

Best MSI GS63VR deals here


Origin EON17-SLX

This is one of the most customizable laptops on the market, and it actually allows you to select or reject options from a menu, all of which affect the eventual price. This makes this laptop one of the potentially most powerful or potentially cheapest VR-MR capable laptops on the market, depending upon which options you choose.

Origin EON17-SLX

First of all, you have the option of selecting two GPUs if you want immense graphics quality, or only one if you would like to save on price. The GPUs offered are NVIDIA 1080s, even a single one of which is perfectly capable of running VR applications – two NVIDIA 1080s could almost be said to be overkill.

Origin offers quite a range of processors, all of which can easily support virtual reality or mixed reality, so which one you choose depends upon your taste and how much money you’re willing to spend. The RAM is also customizable, and a Vive can run applications on 4 GB of RAM, whereas the Rift requires twice that. Windows Mixed Reality also requires roughly the same range. This means that the amount of RAM you choose for this laptop will depend upon what headset you own, and what applications you’re going to run.

However, do bear in mind that this is a premium gaming laptop, which comes with lots of options that you would not normally expect, like the fact that you can get a variation of colors and paint-jobs on the laptop’s case, including custom graphics that you choose yourself.

Click here for best Origin EON17-SLX deals


Acer Predator 17 X

This laptop is one of the more expensive ones. However, it is still not in the highest price range, and does offer one of the best configurations around.

Acer Predator 17 X

Its Core is an Intel i7-7820 that clocks at around 4.3GHz. The GPU will be an NVIDIA 1080 that has 8 GB of onboard DDR5 video RAM. This configuration comes with 32 GB of DDR4 RAM. All in all, this laptop is certainly an excellent choice if you’re looking for something extremely powerful to run your VR or MR applications. The manufacturers offer variations of 4K and HD in the display module.

Click here for best Acer Predator 17 X prices


Lenovo Legion Y720

If the Acer Predator is too expensive for you, then the Lenovo Y720 might be the laptop you take home to run your VR or MR applications. It starts out in retail at a little over a thousand dollars, and runs on an Intel i5-7300. At a slightly higher cost, you can have an i7-7700 instead.

Lenovo Legion Y720

The GPU will be the usual VR or MR standard NVIDIA 1060. This configuration comes with 6GB of GDDR5 video RAM. While there are a great many laptops that are more powerful than this, this is really one of the most cost effective options, and one that can easily and smoothly run VR or MR applications. The display offers alternatives between HD and 4K, and if you choose HD, this can drive down the potential cost of the laptop further. The Y720 also supports Xbox wireless controllers and has USB-C ports, so you should be able to get right into any VR or MR application or game you choose.

Click here for the lowest Lenovo Legion Y720 prices


Specifications of the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift generally requires a higher set of specifications than Windows Mixed Reality or the Vive, so let’s look at the minimum specifications that you’ll have to meet. The lowest range of processor that is capable of running the Rift is the Intel i3-6100. If you prefer AMD processors, the FX4350 is also perfectly capable. You’ll need at least 8GB of RAM, and the minimum video card would be NVIDIA’s 960 or the Radeon RX 470. You also cannot run the Rift without a certain minimum number of ports. You will need two USB 2.0 ports, as well as a single USB 3.0 port. You’ll also need an HDMI port.

So, what laptop would handle these minimum specifications the best?

It goes without saying that if you aim for the minimum specifications, you also get the cheapest possible alternative. In the case of the Oculus Rift, one of the cheapest alternatives on the market that can smoothly run Oculus Rift applications at the minimum settings, is the Lenovo Legion Y520. This is an extremely cost effective option that can retail under $800, but which nevertheless packs the power of an Intel  i5-7300 Core. The laptop comes with an NVIDIA 1050 Ti graphics processing unit that has 4 GB of on-board DDR5 RAM.

Lenovo Legion Y520

This configuration also has 8 GB of DDR4 RAM. While this is the most cost effective option, it can be upgraded in keeping with your finances. The processor can be pushed up to an Intel i7, while the RAM can be extended to 16 GB. However, even with that enhanced hardware, this laptop remains the best bargain on the market and the most cost effective option for virtual reality or mixed reality.

Get the best Lenovo Legion Y520 deals here

Best VR Archery Games

0
VR archery

If you’re a proud owner of either of Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, by this time you must have been amazed by the incredible tracking technology they provide. The games developed for these platforms truly utilize them in marvelous ways, and archery games are no exception.

If you are fascinated by the bow and arrow, a simple, yet incredible human invention from the Neolithic times, which gave the primitive man the possibility of shooting targets from afar instead of charging them head-on with a spear, we bring you the list of games that will unleash your inner sharpshooting samurai.

The Lab – Longbow

The first on our list is the best starting point for any VR enthusiast. Valve’s The Lab gives you the taste of the all the different possibilities of VR. Archery games are one among them.

So, grab your bow Robin, there are some mischievously looking characters heading your way! The longbow game is of the standout experiences in The Lab, you stand as the lord atop of the castle and shoot down waves and waves of little stick figures that run by trying to get the better of you. As you progress, it gets more difficult since some of them wear armor which stops some of your arrows.

The mechanics are fluid and easy to grasp, but the overall static imagery and depersonalized enemies make it quite a dull experience after a while.

Trickster

Dungeons crawlers are always fun, but VR dungeon and with a co-op mode to boot?
Simply amazing! Trickster is a procedurally generated wave shooter game where the objective is to guard the portal against those pesky orcs who want to invade your homeland.

The dungeon crawler is more of an arbitrary name since the levels are these floating islands with randomly generated terrain from where those green devils come out in droves and try to get the best of you.

Mind you, your sharpshooting skills will be taken to the test since orcs have a few tricks up their sleeves as well. From the armored enemies where you have to aim masterfully to hit the sweet spot with the magic-wielding shamans, you will hardly find a moment’s rest. And if they get up close, pull out your sword and shield and cut them down!

The game features a sort of RPG system, meaning that you will find new weapons as you progress through, so if bow and arrow is not your forte, you will find dual wielding crossbows to your taste.

The locomotion is done brilliantly in this game since you can choose from the option that best suits you, be it teleport or touchpads’ smooth motion.

The graphics are done well, they are well polished and very consistent although you may find loading times a bit longer than you would like. All taken into account, this is a must game for any fan of archery games.

Twisted Arrow

Now here is a game that puts a little twist on classical wave shoot ’em up genres. Instead of positioning you at the point where you have to shoot left and right, Twisted Arrow gives you the ability to move around the map. Although the teleport system allows you only to move to predetermined positions, the feeling of freedom it gives is refreshing.

You are a cybernetically enhanced soldier equipped with a very special bow and a set of different arrows, all imbued with different abilities, from frost to pure mayhem inducing explosions. You will rely heavily on these as you progress through the game.

The bow can also serve as a console hacking tool and a shield which deflects projectiles thrown at you by your opponents, so timing between blocking and shooting is key as you move forward.

That’s likely the greatest part of this game. It’s a mix of shooting, dodging and deflecting all mixed with neatly using different arrows at your disposal. The cons are graphics which are pretty basic looking. Although you do have a greater degree of freedom, since you can move to various points, the fact that you cannot move freely around the city puts a constraint.

Overall it’s a very refreshing experience with great gameplay elements.

Holopoint

Welcome to true archery madness! Holopoint puts your archery skills to the test in this somewhat of a classic wave shooter game, but with way more fun and adrenaline. Move around, dodge enemy projectiles, slay menacing ninjas and swordsman and pump yourself up in this pure archery game.

The premise of the game is fairly simple, your job is to shoot down enemies which range from blue floating cubes to orange swordsman and menacing ninjas who throw shooting stars at you. You will have to dodge, move around and be precise, so it will really get your blood pumping.

Since you will be moving quite a lot, this game is optimized for HTC Vive. The biggest problem you will encounter is the cord strapping around you, which is something that can be taken care of quite easily.

As you progress through the levels, you will encounter wider variety of enemies and different bosses, with the added bonus of changing the scenery. In its premise, the game is quite similar to The Lab’s Longbow, but way more immersing and entertaining.

You controllers will vibrate as you pull the bow giving you the real feeling of pulling on a tight bowstring and the quantity and quality of enemies will have you on your toes at all times.

This is a great game for any archery fan.

QuiVR

QuiVR just might very well be the best bow and arrow VR game out there, and here is why. The premise of the game is simple, yet quite new. It is a mix of a wave shooter and tower defense game. Your goal is to guard the tower against various enemies trying to destroy your gates.

The movement is also fairly simple. You shoot arrows at different vantage points from where you have a different view on the surroundings and aim at the pestering creatures trying to get the best of your guard tower.

But the place where the game truly shines is the bow and arrow mechanic. The aim truly amounts to a great deal, precision is more important than speed. The tracking accuracy is phenomenal, and truly resembles a real bow and arrow physics, so after a while, you will be able to predict where your arrow will land with great precision.

Everything has been taken into account, from the distance of the pulled bow which translates into force, to the arrow trajectory curvature. There is simply no game that better simulates archery than QuiVR.

Another great feature is the fact you can play it with a friend co-operatively. Or, you can queue up a multiplayer experience where you team up with others in an effort to stop the advancing hordes of enemies together. It offers great replayability with a slowly but steadily increased difficulty which will challenge your skill as you progress.


As you can see, there is no shortage of entertaining and captivating VR bow and arrow games for any fan of archery. You can choose whatever setting suits you best, from war-stricken cities to snowy mountain passes or dojos set in re-envisioned Japan, these game offer something for anybody.

Lenovo Explorer – Mixed Reality Headset Review

0
Lenovo Explorer mixed reality headset review

The Lenovo mixed reality headset is a simple and utilitarian design that, while not particularly decorative, is still very functional. The Lenovo headset may look simplistic next to the more sophisticated-looking designs offered by ASUS or Dell, but a mixed reality headset is a visual device, of course, and doesn’t have to double as a fashion accessory. About $400 will get you a complete mixed reality bundle that includes not only the Lenovo Explorer headset, but a pair of motion controllers as well, which is a reasonable deal as far as virtual reality and mixed reality go.

Technical Specifications For the Lenovo Explorer

As far as technical specifications go, you’ll have a display that gives you a resolution of 1440 by 1440 for the LCD screen over each eye. That’s a combined resolution that’s more than adequate for mixed reality. The screens have a refresh rate of 90 Hertz, which again is sufficient to prevent motion sickness. The LCD screens combined will give you a 110 degree field of view.

The optics are Fresnel lenses, and there are several types of sensors included in the headset, including the motion tracking system, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, as well as proximity sensors and inside-out sensors. The headset is connected using the usual combination of HDMI and USB, with a headset jack to handle audio. The weight of the headset is very reasonable at around 380 grams, and you have about four meters of cable which gives you plenty of moving space.

Shades of Playstation VR

The Lenovo Explorer has a smooth, more or less seamless plastic casing in grey-black two-tone, which looks quite nice. There is a stripe in the centre that contains the cameras. The design itself is much closer to PlayStation VR than it is to the Vive or the Rift, with the headset actually supporting itself at your forehead, with an angle strap going up the head. In other words, the headset is worn rather like a headband, and feels a lot less restrictive than the heavy mask designs put forward in VR, especially by the Vive or the Rift. The lack of straps over the head or across the face really does significantly reduce any restrictive feelings associated with wearing the headset.

Lenovo Explorer- Intuitive and Convenient

The Lenovo is even better than the headset associated with PlayStation VR, as it doesn’t use physical moving parts to focus the headset. Instead, in an interesting display of innovation, the focusing and calibrating is done via software. The headset is also very convenient to put on, and doing so simply involves you slipping it over your head and turning a little knob at the back to hold the headset in place.

The foam padding of the headset is quite comfortable, and adds to that feeling of not having any restrictive mask on your face. The design is very ergonomic. However, it is also a little thin, and we don’t know whether it will last very long. It effectively blocks out the light, and sufficiently cushions the masque against the face, so the only issue here really is longevity. The foam padding is also loose against the nose, which again can affect longevity in future. Despite these reservations, the headset is truly ergonomically designed and reasonably comfortable when you wear it.

Check the best Lenovo Explorer deals

Light in Weight

One of the reasons the Lenovo Explorer feels so comfortable is not only that it has an ergonomic design, but also because it is so light, and therefore doesn’t feel like you have a weight on your head or face. The padding has been designed to go along with this and to soften the touch of the mask at whatever point it comes contact with your head or face.

An Easy ‘Return to Reality’

Perhaps the best part about this mixed reality headset is that the display can be flipped out, whenever you wish to return to “real” reality. This is marked contrast to headsets like the Rift or Vive which use a clumsy camera or display to give you a distorted view of reality. With the Lenovo Explorer’s mixed reality display, you could immerse yourself in mixed reality and then simply move the mask up and out of the way whenever you wish to return to reality.

This may not seem like much, but it is astonishingly useful and convenient in practice. The cable that comes along with the headset is of reasonable length and can certainly allow you to move around the room easily. However, if you need to lengthen this cable, you can learn how to do it over here.

The motion controllers

The motion controllers that come with the Explorer bundle are necessary for the proper mixed reality experience. They’re based around the reference design that Microsoft provided, and that looked a little odd, which resulted in Lenovo Explorer motion controllers also looking a trifle strange. Nevertheless, as I’ve said at the beginning of this article, it’s not looks we’re looking for over here, but function, and when you hold the Lenovo controllers in your hands, you will realize that their design is really quite ergonomic.

The wands have light sources for motion tracking, and a Windows key and a button for the menu, as well as an analogue stick and various other buttons. The number of buttons provided allows you to access just about any game or mixed reality function. Most of the buttons are intuitively placed and easy to access, but the Windows button could take some practice getting used to. You’ll find it difficult to access at first, until your fingers learn to find it through sheer habit.

The same thing applies to the menu key

It’s generally because these keys are so important in mixed reality, and you will be accessing them all the time, that you might find them a little clumsy at first. Once your hands become used to locating them, however, you’ll be doing this without a conscious thought.

A Final Assessment of the Controllers

The controllers themselves are wireless, and use a Bluetooth connection to integrate with your system. We don’t know how long the batteries would last in these controllers, but if it’s more or less on par with the rest of the industry, you should see a very minimum of a month of life for each set of batteries that you put in.

One specific issue, though, is that the motion controllers are made of hard plastic. It would have been much nicer if they had some gripping areas that were made of a material that didn’t really raise as much of a sweat as smooth plastic. If they’re in your hands for long periods of time, it’s likely that they’ll get all sweaty and perhaps not be very pleasant to hold.

Check the best Lenovo Explorer deals


So what does using the Lenovo Explorer feel like in practice?

One of the first issues is the whole 110-degree-view thing. While we do understand that mixed reality technologies are still in the process of development, and prices have to be kept down, just looking into a 110 degree field of view makes you feel like you’re looking at the world from out of a circle. While it’s true that a 110 degree field of view is the industry standard at the moment, that should change drastically if the Pimax becomes mainstream. However, until that happens, the 110 degree field of view is certainly equivalent to other headsets on the market, such as the PlayStation VR. Its refresh rate of 90 Hertz is particularly comfortable, and prevents the motion sickness that can often be associated with VR technologies.

What mixed reality experience does the headset deliver?

Using the headset in mixed reality allows you to place apps or even pictures around the walls of your home. The apps can also float in midair at different locations that you like. There’s an incredible sense of space and flexibility. However, do bear in mind that reading fine text placed at a considerable distance from you might be a problem. However, that’s something most people can’t do in reality either, so it’s not much of an issue.

Accessing VR with the headset

If you access VR apps, the system seamlessly switches into an immersive and complete VR experience. This is applied whether you’re playing a game or using an immersive VR app, or simply watching a virtual reality movie.

Do bear in mind that mixed reality, like virtual reality, will require a powerful personal computer, and an excellent graphics card. But if you do have such a PC, Lenovo Explorer offers a flawless mixed reality experience.


Pros and Cons of the Lenovo mixed reality headset

Pros

  • The headset is well built and looks quite sturdy.
  • The display is more than adequate and easy on the eyes.
  • The headset is very comfortable to wear, and light in weight.
  • The headset can easily be flipped out of the way when you need to return to reality.
  • The price for the headset and controllers is reasonable.

Cons

  • The foam in places is rather thin, and may wear out with time.
  • The motion controllers don’t have a reasonable gripping area.

Should you buy the Lenovo mixed reality headset?

Certainly. It is efficient, not unnecessarily flashy, is very comfortable to wear and is perhaps one of the best headsets around today if you’re seriously interested in mixed reality.

Check the best Lenovo Explorer deals