HP and Microsoft built the G2 with input from Valve. The headset shares little with Valve’s own Index, though. It’s apparently using different lenses, and while the G2 offers more pixels per eye, it’s still got a lower refresh rate (at 90Hz compared to 120Hz) and smaller field of view (114 degrees compared to 130 degrees). HP did, however, adopt the Index’s impressive and comfortable off-ear speakers. The G2’s most welcome change might be its controller redesign. For years, Microsoft has undercut its Windows Mixed Reality headsets — made in partnership with Samsung, Acer, and HP, among others — with awkward nonstandard hand controllers. The G2’s controllers mirror the now-standard Oculus Touch design, adding two face buttons to each hand and removing the inconvenient trackpad. Earlier this year, I made a long-shot wish that HP might adopt Valve’s “knuckles” controllers — by far my favorite VR hand setup. That clearly didn’t happen, but the smaller redesign still opens a door to improvement across the entire Windows Mixed Reality lineup.
HP teased its new headset around the launch of Half-Life: Alyx, signaling that it would pitch a consumer design in contrast to the industry-oriented Reverb. “The primary goal of this was to develop the best immersive gaming experience,” said John Ludwig, HP’s lead product manager for VR. “However, the wants between your typical commercial customer and your typical gamer don’t tend to be very different.” That means it won’t be introducing a specialized professional version of the headset, although you can get optional features like a shortened cable for a VR backpack — something that home users probably won’t have but arcades and simulators might.
The State of VR in the Early 2000s. After so many capable devices on the market and so many let downs that didn’t truly capture the audience they deserved, virtual reality didn’t see much development in the early 2000s. Virtual Reality was at the background in the development of new technology. It took a step back, letting personal devices, such as computers, laptops, iPods, smartphones and tablets take over, which may very well have been the right step. With the development of new technologies, a new door was opened for virtual reality, because now head-tracking and capable displays were cheaper than ever before. However, it wasn’t before one start-up company mentioned the idea, that Virtual Reality truly took off on the consumer’s market.
HP will continue selling to professional clients, but right now, it’s apparently serving an audience that’s demanding VR headsets and having trouble finding them due to supply chain problems. Ludwig says preorders are opening early so HP can gauge demand and have enough stock at launch.HP originally described the Reverb as a “no-compromise” headset, but its pitch appears to be compromise — in a positive way. It distinguishes itself from the often-generic Mixed Reality lineup with above-average resolution and speakers, while supposedly improving the original Reverb’s biggest drawbacks, like its limited tracking cameras and muddy screen. (While it’s slightly heavier now, it’s also got redesigned ergonomics, with added front padding that could take pressure off the face.) It doesn’t try to outdo the Index’s field of view or controller design, but it’s significantly cheaper and its inside-out camera setup is more user-friendly.
Conversely, the G2 doesn’t try to beat the $399 Oculus Rift S price, but it includes features like a manual slider to adjust the distance between lenses, something that the Rift S sorely lacked. It’s comparable to the HTC Vive Cosmos, but the Cosmos made some early missteps that the Reverb might avoid, including bad tracking and confusing software.
Google Is Going In VR. Google has fully embraced the virtual reality experience and it is dedicating a lot of resources to it. In fact, Google Cardboard was once considered to be a side project for the company before it became a hit. Some people say that Google Maps' street view, which launched in 2007, was an early example of virtual reality. In recent years, Google hired a lot of people specifically for virtual reality and they are researching all aspects of it.
We won’t see the Reverb until later this year, so we can’t judge important factors like comfort or practical image and tracking quality. But Windows Mixed Reality’s VR headset lineup seemed practically in stasis a few months ago. The Reverb looks like a promising attempt to revive it — and add more options for frustrated would-be headset buyers.
Correction:The Reverb G2 costs $599, not $699 as originally stated in the headline.