The LeVR from LeEco is an enjoyable experience with a fantastic controller
It's called LeVR (of course) and initially at least you'll need a LeEco phone to get the best from it. The LeTV Max has been the model used to demo it at CE China in Shenzhen, and we've had chance to take a look at it.
The headset is about what you'd expect from a VR product that runs using a smartphone right now. The front of the unit pops off and you slot the phone inside. Inside is a cable to plug in to the phone, in this case a microUSB so an adapter was required to plug the USB-C laden Max in. It's a snug fit for the large phone but still very easy to get in and out.
The LeVR has a very straight forward scroll wheel to move the lenses in and out so as to focus better and we're told that it accommodates folks wearing glasses. The padding around the eyes is plenty soft enough and the straps around the sides and top of your head seem to leave a good amount of room for adjustment.
So far, nothing particularly out of the ordinary. A headset is a headset is a headset. It's not necessarily better than the Gear VR, but the hardware at least isn't noticeably worse.
LeEco has a dedicated app and selected content available for the LeVR, though at least initially it's restricted to the company's own phones. The headset should work with other phones, but no-one could say for sure whether the dedicated app would become available for those as well.
Where the LeVR gets really interesting is in its controller. It's not just a run of the mill gamepad, instead opting for a much different design. A design that is probably going to be better suited for many to interact with VR content.
The closest thing to compare it to is the Nunchuck controller from the Nintendo Wii. It has a similar shape and size, with a couple of shoulder buttons and a joystick. You can also use it within the LeVR app as a pointer and you've got a couple of extra buttons on there to help with the Android side of things.
I only had a brief time with it but I like the controller a lot. VR is less restrictive than regular video games or content, and that freedom of movement with the LeVR controller is immediately apparent. The only thing you lose over a traditional gamepad is the number of controls you have at your disposal. But I much prefer this style while within the confines of the virtual world.
But, since it's using a phone you're still limited by how sharp the picture actually is. The 2K display on the LeTV Max isn't bad, as you get with the Gear VR and a Galaxy Note. But for now that's something we'll have to live with.
The LeVR is another solid product from a company that's starting to put out some great hardware. The addition of a dedicated controller is a nice touch and shows that there's been some genuine thought put into the experience.
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