The Virtual Reality Gaming industry has developed to a point where the modern consumer is virtually (pun intended) spoilt for choice, in terms of hardware to facilitate their VR experiences. HP’s Reverb G2 system, developed in conjunction with Valve and Microsoft, promises to offer the best VR experience overall. Possibly a tall order, seeing as it pits itself against Facebook’s Oculus range, as well as gaming veteran, PlayStation’s VR headset.
HP’s G2 headset comes as an improvement on the Reverb G1, which was more of a business oriented product. The headset comes in at a slightly heftier price point than the industry benchmark, the Oculus quest, but enables the user to interact with both SteamVR and Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platforms.
Owing to the computing hardware giant’s collaboration with Valve, the Reverb G2 comes packing some serious audio/visual heat, putting it leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor. The built-in Valve Floating Index headphone system reverberates spatial audio but never directly contacts the user’s ear. Valve also helped with the development of a set of new lenses that deliver a brighter LCD display with wider angles and reduced distortion.
The Reverb G2’s LCD display delivers visuals at an impressive 2,160 × 2,160 pixels, to each eye at a 144° field of view. Valve’s Index headset only does 1,440 × 1,600. The only let downs are that the headset doesn’t come with a 3.5 audio jack allowing users to plug in their own audio conduits (the previous model did), and displays refresh at a rate of 90Hz, while the Valve delivers far smoother playback at 120 – 144Hz.
The G2 relies on a built-in camera and sensor system to track location, much like coconspirator, Microsoft’s range of VR headsets. This, unfortunately, means that the Reverb is not compatible with SteamVR’s Lighthouse sensors.
For the controllers, HP tore a page out of Microsoft’s playbook, and have developed a set of controllers that look like Microsoft’s line of VR controllers, only better. There’s method to the madness – according to HP – as the curious looking devices are ergonomically designed to be comfortable enough to enable long hours of immersed gaming.
Although the G2 isn’t officially available for sale yet, folks are able to preorder the device on HP’s website. Taking much design influence from the Oculus Quest, but delivering a sleeker, more capable headset, HP may soon become a true contender.
Be forewarned however, though the setting up of the Reverb is as easy as any VR headset’s setup – simply installing the Microsoft Mixed Reality platform, and hooking the headset into your PC via a display 1.3 display port and an USB 3.0 port – it does come with heavier hardware requirements.
HP cautions users to at least have an Intel Core i7,or an equivalent Xeon E3-1240 v5 GPU, Radeon Pro WX 8200, Quadro P5200,or an Nvidia GX1080 with a minimum of 16 Gigabytes of RAM. Yep, this thing is an utter beast.
The Reverb G2 cuts a striking figure and, before even enjoying full release, looks more than capable of knocking a few of the current crop of top headsets off their perch. The high price tag and PC requirements for set up may prove a real put off for some, but this is what makes it suitable for both gaming and enterprise use cases, like design, training, virtual meet spaces are becoming a thing.