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Lenovo Explorer and Windows Mixed Reality Review


Room-Scale vs Sitting/Standing Experience:

As I mentioned in the introduction, the Lenovo Explorer is on loan from the company, but it is not the only thing the company loaned me. The Explorer, and any Windows Mixed Reality headset, is still a peripheral for a computer, and Lenovo wanted to make sure I would have what I needed for proper testing. With my Threadripper build, I am pretty good as far as a desktop is concerned, and Lenovo was very kind and has also loaned me a Legion Y720 VR-ready gaming laptop, so I could also try a more mobile experience. By that I meant trying the headset in different locations than my room, which is unquestionably too small for some MR/VR experiences.

Without the restriction of my desktop/cord length, I had to decide where to put the Explorer to a good room-scale test, and I think my solution was a good one. While there are a couple rooms in the house that are relatively open, every room is lived in, and we have a few animals running around as well, so a tail might be stepped on instead of a shelf being punched. What dawned on me was the ideal location would actually be the garage. Once the cars are removed there is a large, open, flat area one can freely move about in without worry. It being Winter now, it is a bit cold to be there for an extended length of time, but it really does work very well. Besides, removing a couple cars is a lot easier than trying to empty one room of its contents.

The difference between a room-scale experience and a sitting or standing experience is significant, especially with a game like GORN to play. Being able to move about without worry really helps you focus on the gameplay, which in turn helps with immersion for the entire experience. Of course not all games are designed to take advantage of this, but they actually still can, to a point. While set up in the garage, everyone in the family got a chance and in Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope my brother decided to try dodging incoming shots, and it worked. The player's position could easily have been locked, or at least configured so dodging was not possible, but it was not. Thanks to the Explorer's sensors, it was possible for my brother, and anyone else, to move about to avoid getting hit. There are limits on this, as the game has a box the player has to remain within, but even a foot in either direction can be enough to avoid an attack.

Perhaps unexpectedly, I also noticed the cable from the headset was less of an issue when in the garage and freely moving around. Maybe this is because there is less for it to get caught on, but it still made the experience an easier one to enjoy.

This experience is also something that has to be considered a credit to the Windows Mixed Reality platform and headsets like the Lenovo Explorer. With the inside-out tracking design, bringing the setup out to the garage was very simple. Plug in the laptop; plug in the headset; run the room set up process; enjoy. There was no extra hardware to place around the space, and I would not be surprised if tracing out the boundaries of the room was not necessary. I have my desktop configured for sitting, but it still tracks me if I move around. The room tracing might just be so boundaries can be projected in the virtual environment, to keep you from running into or punching walls, but it was more the cable length that determined the boundaries than walls.

As fun as a room-scale experience is, I am not going to say it is necessary to enjoy the Explorer, or any headset. I am enjoying my seated and standing experiences as well. My purpose here is to suggest that if you get the Lenovo Explorer, or another headset, see if you can find even a temporary means to enable a room-scale experience, like setting things up in a garage. I think you will enjoy it, as might anyone watching you interact with the virtual world.

  1. Lenovo Explorer & Windows Mixed Reality Review - Introduction
  2. Lenovo Explorer & Windows Mixed Reality Review - Hardware
  3. Lenovo Explorer & Windows Mixed Reality Review - Experience - Windows Mixed Reality Portal
  4. Lenovo Explorer & Windows Mixed Reality Review - Experience - SteamVR
  5. Lenovo Explorer & Windows Mixed Reality Review - Experience - Gaming
  6. Lenovo Explorer & Windows Mixed Reality Review - Room-scale vs. Sitting/Standing Experience
  7. Lenovo Explorer & Windows Mixed Reality Review - Conclusion
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