HP’s New Reverb Virtual Reality Headset Sports Superb Resolution
The PC-bound virtual reality scene is starting to see a little action with recently unveiling of the Oculus Rift S, which now joins the HTC Vive Pro in the space following Oculus’ decision to do a refresh of its hardware after a three-year silence. It seems desktop VR is still here to stay in spite of the strong industry move towards standalone headsets such as the HTC Vive Focus Plus and the Oculus Quest.
HP is also about to throw in the dice with its newest PC-bound Windows Mixed Reality Headset known as Reverb which boasts an impressive resolution of 2160 x 2160, a lighter weight design and inside-out tracking functionality. The new HP headset doubles the display resolution of its previous model, the HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset. The doubling of the resolution will be one among a constellation of improvements added to the standalone headset which could possibly make it the best virtual reality headset to use on Windows. Whether it will live to the billing will ultimately depend on the quality of standalone headsets that will be unveiled later in the year by other brands.
Price and availability
The HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset will hit the stores in late April and will be available in two variations. The consumer version will go for $599 while the commercial enterprise Pro version of the headset will go for $649. Both the commercial and consumer version of the Reverb headset also come with motion controllers.
Unlike the consumer version, the commercial version of the Reverb headset will come with a 0.6m cable to be used in connecting the headset to a backpack PC. The commercial version will also have a leatherette fabric face mask that the wearer can use to wipe the device clean and its one year warranty is also more robust and generous.
At their core, however, both headsets pack similar specifications. Both of them have an impressive 114-degree field of view (FOV). The previous Mixed Reality version had a 105 FOV so this is not necessarily a significant bump but it’s an improvement nonetheless. Whether to pay the extra $50 for the commercial version will boil down to how much you want those small extras in the enterprise Pro commercial version such as its machine-washable face mask, a basic removable and a slightly more generous warranty.
Compared to other headsets in the market, the HP Reverb has a price advantage over the Vive Pro which goes for $799 but is more expensive than the just unveiled Oculus Rift S which goes for $399 and the Samsung Odyssey+ which is expected to hit the market in under a year and will retail at $499.
Design of the headset
HP’s Windows Mixed Reality headsets more or less had a similar look with only a small a difference in their front fairing which gave them a distinctive look, visually.
With the Reverb, HP is looking to reinvent the headset design. Unlike the previous models, the HTC Windows Mixed Reality headset will not be as blocky. The design takes more after the Oculus Go with a sleeker and miniaturized frame that will cover only a small part of the wearer’s face.
The front fascia of the new headset will be lined with a fabric that will create a nice-looking high-brow style that you’d more likely associate with the super premium home audio and home entertainment devices.
When it comes to the headband, the previous halo-style design has been replaced and in its place is a more supportive three-point band design. With much smaller profile and the supportive new headband, you can strap the HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset to your face and feel like you are not wearing anything at all!
Along the sides of the redesigned headband are new integrated headphones in the headset. There are also other less noticeable additions in the headset such as the dual microphones built into the headset along with built-in Bluetooth for use in connecting controllers. The HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset is a complete overhaul and you won’t find any features passed over from the HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset.
What does the headset pack under the hood? The most apparent thing that you will notice when you peer through the headset’s high-resolution screens is its sharpness. That’s a significant improvement over HP’s previous models. The HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset is also more detailed than competitors in its class. It has a resolution of 2160 x 2160 per eye panels enabling this PC-bound virtual reality headset to deliver twice the display resolution of some of the top hitters such as the HTC Vive Pro and the Samsung Odyssey+. The super high resolution enables the user to see the minutest of details such as wood grains on a virtual floorboard with much more clarity.
The great amount detail rendered is not just due to its sharper screen but also the re-engineered optics that now provides the wearer with a clearer and wider view of the virtual world they are looking at through the headset.
HTC has deviated from the perfectly symmetrical round lenses and brought asymmetrical lenses with a square-circle or ‘squircle’ shape that give the wearer a wider field of view. The centre of the lenses has also been repositioned closer to the bridge of the wearer’s nose and there is also a 33% improvement in the clarity of the lens.
The incremental modifications in the visual fidelity have had a sort of multiplier effect on the quality of the experience, adding greater clarity and field of view. With the sharper resolutions and the 90+ frames per second refresh rate, users are able to view the virtual environment with much greater detail that would not have been realizable with the previous HP VR headset models.
The more sharply defined images and larger FOV mean that some people may need a little time to readjust to the digital landscape in this new headset especially if you are shifting from the earlier less impressive models.
On the upside, you won’t require some monstrous PC gaming hardware with the HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset. An Nvidia GTX 1070 will be sufficient to power your 4K VR experiences to an optimal level. Even the more affordable Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti will suffice.
This is another great addition to the PC-bound virtual reality landscape which has not seen much action over the past three years. The only notable launches have been the HTC Vive Pro, Samsung Odyssey+ and just yesterday, the Oculus Rift S. Having another affordable option that still delivers stellar resolutions is refreshing and a welcome change for many VR enthusiasts.