Many people are familiar with Lenovo’s VR offerings. The company was the first to release a standalone VR headset in 2018 with the Mirage Solo and its ThinkReality XR platform, targeting the enterprise, which continues to grow in popularity. The ThinkReality A3 AR headset, which runs on the ThinkReality XR platform, has also gained a lot of momentum since its launch last year, as evidenced by Qualcomm’s selection of the ThinkReality A3 as the default hardware for its Snapdragon Spaces platform and devkit. While Lenovo’s AR momentum has been trending over the last year, the company had not refreshed its VR offerings in some time. That changed last week with the launch of Lenovo’s new VR headset, the Lenovo ThinkReality VRX, which features a multitude of updates to Lenovo’s enterprise VR offerings, including new mixed reality capabilities.
Lenovo built the ThinkReality VRX for enterprise applications from the ground up. Designed to fit comfortably for long-term use, the headset’s balanced battery in the back acts as an effective counterweight to the device’s front-heaviness (shared by most standalone headsets). The front-end of the headset is also thinner than previous generations of VR headsets thanks to the pancake optics employed by Lenovo to minimize size and weight. The headset also has high-resolution pass-through cameras for mixed reality applications, which I believe will be the slow onramp for new AR applications. The headset supports 6-DoF tracking using four world-facing cameras, meaning that it will be mapping the area around it to allow the user to move freely within their respective space. The ThinkReality also works with 3-DoF experiences as well, which could make sense for applications in which 3-DoF headsets are the dominant use case like 360-videos. In reference to the capabilities of the ThinkReality VRX, Lenovo’s GM of XR and Metaverse Vishal Shah said, “With a focus on business-grade quality, scalability, security and flexibility, the Lenovo ThinkReality VRX is built to be the onramp to the Enterprise Metaverse. From enabling immersive training and learning to address the skills gap and labor shortages to empowering virtual meetings and collaboration in 3D for hybrid workers, the enterprise VR solution will bring productivity to the next level.”
Because the ThinkReality VRX utilizes Qualcomm’s XR platform, the ThinkReality VRX should be competitive on performance with the rest of the standalone headsets on the market. In addition to that, the ThinkReality VRX supports PC streaming solutions to enhance the graphical experience and increase the utility of the headset. I believe that all standalone VR headsets should have remote streaming capabilities from a PC as a default feature, since there will be applications that can only run on a PC or that might necessitate a higher performance discrete GPU. The good thing about the ThinkReality VRX is that Lenovo has been working closely with NVIDIA to enable CloudXR for cloud-based rendering, which means that application developers won’t always have to rely on a PC to deliver higher fidelity experiences.
Lenovo has spent the last few years not only iterating on its AR and VR headsets, but also building out a complete suite of software and services for its enterprise customers. Lenovo sees itself as the only company in the market today that can not only offer XR hardware and support, but also the services and software to enable XR solutions to grow at enterprise scale. Lenovo’s GM of XR and Metaverse, Vishal Shah, put it this way: “The VR solution also includes the built-in ThinkReality software platform to empower IT and operations with the ability to deploy, configure and manage XR devices at scale, enabling the enterprise to support workers with updates and analytics to optimize performance.”
Fundamentally, the hardware has to be manageable, and the applications have to work just like they would on a smartphone or a PC. This means enabling all kinds of MDM solutions as well as engaging with the right ISV partners and consulting partners to help build solutions that fit a customer’s needs. As such, Lenovo is incredibly flexible with the platforms that it supports, allowing a multitude of different ecosystem partners to develop with its ThinkReality devices and platform. Lenovo wants to make it easier for customers to have a single familiar place for all their XR devices, so it has a history of supporting other companies’ hardware on its ThinkReality software platform. Lenovo has also partnered with ENGAGE to build a persistent Lenovo presence in the metaverse where people can virtually explore Lenovo’s products and solutions as well as meet and collaborate with partners and customers in the same space.
Pricing and availability
While Lenovo has not yet given exact pricing or availability for the headset, there is an early access program in place for select partners to get devices by the end of the year. General availability of the ThinkReality VRX will be in early 2023, which is also when we’ll learn the pricing of the ThinkReality VRX. Considering the ROI these headsets can deliver, especially in training applications, I don’t really expect the price of the headset itself to be a concern, as long as it’s nothing astronomical. For that matter, I expect many of Lenovo’s partners will offer this headset as-a-Service. In that case, the end customer may never know the actual price of the headset.
While we don’t know the final specs of this headset, soon we’ll be able to compare it against a growing field of VR offerings. Pico’s Neo 4 appears to be a consumer-focused headset, but I expect a forthcoming Pro model will attempt to compete with Lenovo’s VRX. That said, I don’t really believe that Pico has the enterprise pedigree, software, support and services in place to be able to compete with Lenovo, especially considering the company’s global reach. It remains unclear whether Pico will ever launch in the US market—a limiting factor, especially when it comes to global enterprises. It also remains to be seen what kind of enterprise prowess the upcoming Oculus ‘Quest Pro’ will have and how Meta will overcome its reputation as a VR gaming and entertainment platform. I eagerly await the full specs of the Lenovo VRX and can’t wait to get my hands on one.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.