Lenovo Explorer
Lenovo Explorer Review | Affordable VR is here Eevnos
Lenovo Explorer Review | Affordable VR is here

Photos - Lenovo Explorer

Lenovo Explorer - frontLenovo Explorer - sideLenovo Explorer - sideviewLenovo Explorer - backLenovo Explorer - controllersLenovo Explorer - lookLenovo Explorer - camerasLenovo Explorer - setLenovo Explorer - front sideLenovo Explorer - with controllersLenovo Explorer - lensesLenovo Explorer - cable
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Очки виртуальной реальности Lenovo Explorer Windows Mixed Reality Headset
7 4.5 487 USD Buy
General
UsageFor PCFor SmartphonesFor quadcopter
Operating systemMinimum system requirements
DatesRelease2017/10/04
Design
Body380gram380 gram185×102×95mm.
Display
TypeAvailabilityAR - See-throughLCD
Size2.89inchesSmartphone screenN/AField of view horizontal110°
Resolution1440×1440px.
Features90 Hz.
AdjustingN/A
Camera
Front cameraNumber2
System
SynchronizationAndroidiOSBlackberryWindowsPlayStation
SupportSteamVROculus HomeWindows Mixed RealityViveportPiHome
IntegrationGames600
Interfaces
VideoHDMIHDMI 2.0DisplayPort
Wi-Fi
Bluetooth4.0
USBUSBUSB 3.0USB 2.0USB type-cCharger connectorDisplay port supportHDMI support
Multimedia
SoundHeadphone input 3.5mmMicrophone
Power
BatteryN/AReplaceable
Battery lifeN/A
Features
Conrol3DoF Turning head
Tracking3DoF Rotation tracking6DoF Positional trackingTracking area
Contents
ContentsManualsUSB cableHDMI cableDisplayPort cableHDMI repeaterAdapterChargerHeadphonesTouch control panelMotion controllerSteamVR TrackingGamepadLighthouse
Lenovo Explorer is one of the very first headsets of the Windows Mixed Reality range from Microsoft. It is distinguished by its user-friendliness, low weight and relatively affordable price. The VR headset works without external base stations and therefore does not require a long setting up and is designed for a mass user. However, a number of advantages hide some pitfalls. Despite initial interest in WMR devices, today all devices of this type make up only 5% of SteamVR users. The joint share of Rift and Vive is still about 90%.
The development of augmented reality technologies began in Microsoft in 2015 when the release of Microsoft Hololens was announced. Since then the company has chosen a different development strategy and given third-party developers (HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Acer) the opportunity to create VR headsets based on its own shell called Windows Mixed Reality (WMR). Despite the word Mixed, Microsoft devices do not provide an opportunity to interact with real-world objects, unlike Microsoft Hololens. In fact, WMR is the same virtual reality called by an eye catching name. The first prototype of Lenovo Explorer was presented on January 3, 2017 during the CES exhibition, five days earlier than by other third-party developers. The headset went on sale on October 17, 2017.

Pros of Lenovo Explorer


Quick installation. It takes 5 minutes to set the headset up.
Gaming space. It allows you to play space games with the ability to move around the room and not be limited by the position of the sensors.
World-scale VR. You can put a gaming laptop in your backpack and try to play even in the park.
Compactness. All sensors are built into the headset — external sensors are not needed.
Ergonomics. The headset is easily bent upwards, and you do not need to take the headset off.
Headphones. There is a 3.5 output for connecting any standard headphones.

Cons of Lenovo Explorer


Motion tracking. Controllers must always be kept in front of the face, and tracking outside this zone is much weaker.
Gaps. The total immersion is not possible because of gaps between the headset and the face.
There is only a display. There are no built-in headphones and a microphone.
Wires. It is inconvenient to play with a cord — the cable is one meter shorter than that of HTC Vive.
Choice of the software. There is limited number of games and applications.
Incomplete kit. To use the controllers, you need a Bluetooth adapter in your PC.
Fragile controllers. It's easy to break them during careless usage in games

Main competitors of Lenovo Explorer

Windows Mixed Reality devices do not differ much in terms of their main characteristics and price, they use the same controllers:
  • Acer HMD, ASUS Headset — the cheapest (399 USD) VR devices with a smaller viewing angle and lower assembly quality.
  • HP Headset, Dell Visor — models of the same price (449 USD), but also with a smaller viewing angle. The headset from HP is heavier, and the optics is inferior to Lenovo. Dell can be called the closest equivalent.
  • Samsung Odyssey — the most expensive (499 USD) and distinguished headset from the WMR range. It is equipped with built-in headphones, a higher resolution of AMOLED-display, large lenses and the ability to adjust the distance between the eyes.
Windows Mixed Reality headsetsHTC Vive and Oculus Rift which work with the PC belong to a higher price segment because of the external motion tracking systems and high performance. These models are distinguished by:
high price;
lower display resolution;
complicated installation and setting up;
strictly limited space by the action abilities of base stations and cameras;
the ability to play without wires with the wireless adapter TPCast;
more accurate tracking in space;
a large number of games on SteamVR and Oculus Home;
strong and durable controllers.

Design and ergonomics of Lenovo Explorer

Users note flimsy fastening because of which there is always a gap between the headset and the face, like in PS VR. It prevents you from immersing yourself completely in VR because sometimes light falls directly on the lenses. Although for some gamers this kind of a gap allows to feel themselves more secure in the game, and what's more, the face does not sweat. Nevertheless, top models like HTC Vive or Oculus Rift strictly protect the lenses from other light sources.

Among the advantages is the opportunity to bend the display without taking the headset off. This allows you to switch quickly from the virtual world to the real one and vice versa. The fastening of the headset does not have any gaps, does not produce sounds when the screen is raised and inspires confidence in the assembly quality. The headset itself weighs only 380 grams which makes it one of the lightest in the segment.

Lenses are located at a sufficient distance from the eyes, so you can play wearing prescription glasses without much difficulty. The pads on the head fastenings are made of washable material, and the face liner is made of three-layer fiber, so the wear resistance is not bad, and the eyes do not fog up.
On the reverse side of the fastening is a small wheel that adjusts the size of the head circumference. There is a plastic clip for wires on the right side of the arch fastening. It protects them from excessive tension. The headset itself thanks to a strip in the middle resembles the Robocop helmet which looks not so strange as the Acer design, for example. However, WMR offers headsets for almost every taste and color.

The front side of Lenovo Explorer

Display and lenses of Lenovo Explorer

The LCD display has a good resolution of 1440x1440 for one eye, which is even higher than that of some top-price headsets. Granularity is seen more often here than in HTC Vive. In Lenovo Explorer, Fresnel lenses are used which are found in all top-end devices and provide a viewing angle of 110 degrees. Nevertheless, in comparison with the Samsung Odyssey lenses it becomes obvious that the viewing angle in Explorer is smaller despite the total declared data. Some users complain of glare because of a gap between the headset and the face, but in general it does not greatly distract from the virtual reality.
There is no physical adjustment of interpupillary distance and sharpness in the device, but there are software functions for this. Users with a distance between pupils of more than 63-65 mm may experience some discomfort when using the headset. The image in the headset seems to be less sharp around the edges, and you can get rid of this by putting it closer to the face. This can cause some discomfort, but in prescription glasses such a trick will not be possible at all.

There is a proximity sensor on the inside of the headset that reacts to the face and turns on the display if the headset is put on.
The Fresnel lenses in Lenovo Explorer

WMR controllers for Lenovo Explorer

Battery type2 AA batteries for one controller
Working time without recharging~40 hours
The way of connecting / updatingBluetooth 4.0
Elements of control6
Tracking6DoF
Weight with batteries171 grams
Sensors
  • Magnetometer
  • Accelerometer
  • Gyroscope
  • LEDs
The price of two controllers100 USD
Standard Windows Mixed Reality Motion Controllers from Microsoft run on two batteries. In terms of their ergonomics, they resemble the controllers for HTC Vive, although users note a greater user-friendliness and you get used to the location of the buttons quickly. Controllers are connected to the PC via Bluetooth which acts as a hub in the operation of the entire device, so the firmware updates automatically every time when there is a connection to the computer. The only drawback is the fragility of the design. In active games you have to be careful in order not to break the device.

Controllers’ buttons and stick allow you to play all games of HTC and Oculus without restrictions. But in case of a breakdown, it is not easy to find controllers sold separately. You'll have to search for them on ebay or to buy compatible equivalents from Dell.
Windows Mixed Reality controller

How does Lenovo Explorer work?

Lenovo Explorer works without external sensors — all necessary sensors are located directly in the headset. Two built-in headset cameras read the information about the location of the controllers thanks to 18 LEDs. The information is transferred to the PC and is processed there in order to be returned to the user in the form of virtual hands. It is important that the room is well lit, otherwise cameras will not be able to determine the position of hands in space, but direct sunlight is not allowed in the gaming space, this can disrupt the tracking of the controllers themselves. If the controllers temporarily disappear from the camera's view, a built-in magnetometer, accelerometer and gyroscope begin to work transferring the information to the PC via Bluetooth. Gamers, however, mention that in practice positioning without cameras does not work as smoothly as it should be.

Sensors and gaming space in Lenovo Explorer

External (absolute) tracking is not provided — all sensors are built directly into the headset. This technology is called Inside Out. Of course, this simplifies the setting up of the device, but because of it controllers must always be kept in front of the face. This is one of the main disadvantages of using the Lenovo Explorer headset. Your hands not only get tired, but even with any attempt to turn the head sharply, you can easily "lose hands" in the game, and the restoration of the position occurs with a delay of 1-2 seconds.

You can play almost everywhere — tracking directly from the cameras on the headset is not affected by mirrors. A user chooses gaming space by him/herself and in an absolutely free form. The only limitation here is a four-meter wire that will not allow you to get far from the computer, so you will have to play in front of the screen. If you come too close to the boundary of the gaming space, then WMR will show a white grid.
Boundaries of gaming space

The usage of Lenovo Explorer

With Lenovo, as with any other WMR headsets, you can play almost everywhere if you have a powerful gaming laptop and a backpack for it. There is enough light in parks and in the country, and the lack of fear of bumping into a cabinet, desk or own computer pleases all VR gamers. This experience was called world-scale as opposed to room-scale.
Among the disadvantages of Lenovo Explorer usage the following should be mentioned:
problems with tracking in wide open space and on the grass since the cameras of Lenovo have nothing to catch hold of in space;
the battery on the laptop discharges very quickly, the headset is able to discharge the laptop after 20-30 minutes of playing, so it's better to buy external batteries before going outdoors;
some games have a restriction on the allowable space for the game, and the most ‘limitless’ game for today is Minecraft VR;
you can play only in the daytime outside.

Software for Lenovo Explorer

SteamWindows Mixed Reality installation
Windows Mixed RealitySteam VR running
When you start the headset, the Home application which looks like a virtual home designed with the Windows interface is turned on. Here a user can get used to VR, to controllers and play with the arrangement of virtual furniture and applications. Icons of application can be placed on the walls depending on the priorities and needs.

Nevertheless, advanced VR gamers note that despite the first pleasant impression, Home does not offer especially interesting functions and has limited set of functions, and the Windows design is evident in every detail which has already made many people tired. For instance, you cannot replan the house by yourself, choose its location or change the colors of objects.
At the same time, you can walk around the house without restrictions and controllers if you play outside with the laptop behind your back. The house is perhaps a long-term project of Microsoft and in the long term it can become a basis for the mixed reality.

Where can you download games for Lenovo Explorer

ServiceApplications (games)Free applications (games)Comments
Microsoft Store184 (73)73 (13)Standard application
Steam VR592 (473)48 (41)Access to some games for Rift and Vive
The number of games and applications for Lenovo Explorer as well as for all WMR headsets leaves much to be desired. Even those programs that are widely available on Steam VR are not optimized with a good quality.

Minimum computer requirements for Lenovo Explorer


The headset can be put in operation in two modes, and in the Ultra mode the display update rate will be 90 Hz and the picture quality will be significantly higher than even in Rift or Vive due to a high resolution. You can check if your PC meets the minimum requirements of the WMR platform with the help of the Windows Mixed Reality PC Check application.

RequirementsMinimumRecommended
ProcessorIntel Core i5 7200U dual-coreIntel Core i5 4590 quad-core / AMD Ryzen 5 1400 3.4 GHz quad-core
Graphics adapterIntel® HD Graphics 620 / NVIDIA MX150 / AMD Radeon RX 460/560NVIDIA GTX 1060 / AMD RX 470/570
RAM8 GB DDR3 dual-channel8 GB DDR3
Video outputHDMI 1.4 / DisplayPort 1.2HDMI 2.0 / DisplayPort 1.2
USB3.03.0
DirectX1212
OSWindows 10 Fall Creators UpdateWindows 10 Fall Creators Update
Update rate60 Hz90 Hz

Packaging and arrangement of Lenovo Explorer


The basic Lenovo Explorer kit includes nothing superfluous, and you will not have to buy any additional details for a full-fledged operation if there are:
  • the headset with a main cable and a 3.5 jack for headphones — wires combine HDMI and USB and are non-removable;
  • two controllers;
  • an envelope with basic installation and configuration instructions;
  • four AA batteries for controllers.
The headset and controllers of Lenovo Explorer

Hidden purchase costs of Lenovo Explorer

For good performance of the headset in the Windows Mixed Reality Ultra mode, you need a powerful PC or a laptop which costs about 900 USD. If the computer cannot cope with it, then you can play in a simplified mode with the update rate of 60 Hz. In this mode, many users run Lenovo Explorer on laptops with i5 / i7 processors, even with an integrated video chipset. Other expenses may include:
  • Headphones — the headset has a standard 3.5 connector, so you can use any headset with a built-in microphone.
  • Bluetooth-adapter — controllers are connected directly to the PC via Bluetooth, but there is no adapter for the PC in the kit. It will cost 5 USD—10 USD.

Accessories and additional devices for Lenovo Explorer

  • A leather face foam replacement on Lenovo Explorer — it will be useful when the original one is worn out. The price is 29 USD.
  • Extension cable for the main cable of 2 or 5 meters — officially WMR devices do not support extension cables or modules of wireless connection to the computer, but some users were able to connect USB 3.0 Type A extension cables. As for the HDMI wire, there were no problems with it.
  • Retractable Cable is almost indispensable in the absence of wireless connection between the headset and the PC. The price is 23 USD.
  • Lenovo Explorer carry case — the device consists of several parts, does not require the adjustment of base stations and is ready to be moved at any time. The price is from 35 USD.
  • The Xbox controller — it can be used together with Lenovo Explorer, can be convenient in races. The price is from 50 USD.
  • A mesh rucksack for a laptop — it is suitable for playing outdoors and it protects the laptop from overheating. The price is from 40 USD.
  • An external battery for a laptop — it is necessary for more than half an hour playing outdoors because the headset quickly discharges the battery. The device for 20000 mAh will cost at least 70 USD.

Installation and configuration of Lenovo Explorer

Time of installation5 minutes
Min. area3,5x3,5 m
Max. game area~ 9x9 m
Positioninginside out
It is easy to customize the headset thanks to the built-in Windows application which provides some visual instructions for installation. In the process of operation, the device will determine the level of the computer and configure the optimal graphics settings. After application installation you will need to determine your gaming space in a free form and after that you can start using the headset.

Errors, bugs and recommendations for using Lenovo Explorer

The most common problem is the failure of USB 3.0 and the wrong tracking of the device when it is connected to the PC. All these little pitfalls are solved with the help of relatively simple steps. The developers recommend using only USB-A 3.0 ports located directly on the PC motherboard or built into the laptop. Therefore, make sure that you have enough connectors before purchasing. It is not desirable to use splitters or additional adapters. A similar problem may occur when you try to connect an extension cable to USB, although some users end up finding a working cable by trial and error.
Problems with the software on the PC most often arise because of the lack of drivers for video cards and, since we are talking about the Microsoft device, Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

In July 2018, Microsoft introduced the Flashlight technology which makes the demonstration of the real world inside the headset possible: by the verbal order black and white circles the location of which is tied to the controllers turn on. This is done to simplify the interaction with reality without taking the headset off. A similar technology was previously used only in HTC Vive. The benefit of this technology is still questionable because the display rises easily, and the controllers stop working as hands inside the virtual world. In Vive, a window with the real world is fixed at the bottom of the display, so you can stay in the game, but control objects around.
In general, Lenovo Explorer, like other WMR devices, is distinguished by a small number of bugs, user-friendliness and ease of debugging. The only real obstacle is the impossibility to adjust the distance between the lenses. Users with non-standard interpupillary distance should immediately forget about purchasing WMR budget headsets from Acer, HP, Asus or Lenovo and pay their attention to more advanced models: Odyssey, Rift and Vive.

Whom will Lenovo Explorer be suitable for?

If to discuss the WMR headsets, then Lenovo is regarded by many people as an optimal choice for a newcomer of VR who wants to play quality spatial games with the possibility of virtually unlimited movement, but is not ready to spend too much money and effort on buying and configuring more complicated models from Oculus and Rift. For advanced users who still want to try a device based on Microsoft it is better to purchase Samsung Odyssey with its advanced lenses and a high-quality display.

If we compare Lenovo with cheaper WMR equivalents, then it stands out due to its good viewing angle, ergonomics and light weight — in fact it is one of the lightest VR devices. That's why it is Lenovo that many users recommend buying.
Regularly there are some discounts on VR headsets on the Microsoft official website which can sometimes reach 50%. At a discount price Lenovo can be bought for 200 USD, although such proposals are valid for several days, and headsets sell out fast. Similar promotions are sometimes held on amazon.com. At such a price Lenovo Explorer definitely can be considered to be the best VR headset in terms of price and quality.
Some useful information in English about the operation of WMR can be found in the guide on the Microsoft official website.

Analogs Lenovo Explorer

Showing 1-10 of 10 items.
PriceProduct
PhotoUSDTitle px.AngleHz.MPGr.
USDTitle
HTC Vive499HTC Vive    1200×1080110°901 pc.470
Oculus Rift CV1399Oculus Rift CV1    1200×1080110°90470
HTC Vive Pro799HTC Vive Pro    1440×1600110°90 2 pc.555
Samsung Odyssey399Samsung Odyssey    1440×1600110°90 2 pc.644
ASUS Headset583ASUS Headset    1440×144095°90 2 pc.400
Microsoft HoloLens4,412Microsoft HoloLens    1268×72030°602 pc.579
Oculus Rift DK2534Oculus Rift DK2    960×1080100°75 440
Acer Headset199Acer Headset    1440×1440105°90 2 pc.350
DELL Visor 449DELL Visor     1440×1440110°90 2 pc.590
Lenovo Mirage Solo708Lenovo Mirage Solo    2560×1440110°75 2 pc.645

Full specification and comparison

Brand Lenovo HTC Oculus HTC
ModelExplorer Vive Rift CV1 Vive Pro
Min. price USD
487
USD
499
USD
399
USD
799
Release 2017/10/04 2016/04/05 2016/04/28 2018/04/05
Usage
For PC
Design
Body
Total weight 380 gram 470 gram 470 gram 555 gram
Body weight 380 gram 512 gram 450 gram
Dimensions 185×102×95 mm.
Display
Type
Availability
Type LCD PenTile OLED OLED AMOLED
Size
Size 2.89 inches 3.6 inches 3.54 inches 3.5 inches
Field of view horizontal 110 ° 110 ° 110 ° 110 °
Resolution
Resolution 1440×1440 px. 1200×1080 px. 1200×1080 px. 1440×1600 px.
Features
Latency 22 ms.
Refresh rate 90 Hz. 90 Hz. 90 Hz. 90 Hz.
Adjusting
IPD
Focal length
Lens spacing 58-72 mm.
System
Operating system
Minimum system requirements Windows 10 – Creators Update, Intel Desktop i7 или AMD Ryzen 7 1700, NVIDIA GTX 980/1060 - AMD Radeon RX 480 (8GB), RAM - 16 Гб GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 или AMD Radeon R9 290; CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 или AMD FX 8350; Оперативная память: 4 ГБ или больше; Видеовыход: HDMI 1.4 или DisplayPort 1.2 8 Гб оперативной памяти; ОС Windows 7 SP1; 3 порта USB 3.0; порт USB 2.0; разъем HDMI 1.3. GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 или AMD Radeon RX 480; CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 или AMD FX 8350; Оперативная память: 4 ГБ или больше; Видеовыход: DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.0 порт или более скоростной, Windows 8.1 или выше
Synchronization
Windows
Support
SteamVR
Oculus Home
Windows Mixed Reality
Viveport
Camera
Front camera
Number 2 pc. 1 pc. 2 pc.
Multimedia
Sound
Headphone input 3.5mm
Microphone
Features
Conrol
3DoF Turning head
Tracking
3DoF Rotation tracking
6DoF Positional tracking
Tracking area 5x5 meters 2.5х2.5 meters 10x10 meters
Applications
Integration
Games 600 3500 2900 3500
Interfaces
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi
Video
HDMI 1.4
HDMI 2.0
DisplayPort
USB
USB
USB 3.0
USB 2.0
USB type-c
Charger connector
Display port support
HDMI support
Bluetooth
Version 4.0
Contents
Contents
Manuals
USB cable 2
HDMI cable 2
DisplayPort cable
HDMI repeater 1
Headphones 1
Motion controller
SteamVR Tracking
Gamepad
Lighthouse 2 2
Sensors
Accelerometer
Gyrosсope
Magnetometer
External position sensor in space
Proximity sensor
Indicator
Immersion 9 8
Interaction 9 9
Comfort 6 8
Ecosystem 7 7
Setup 6 6