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HP is unveiling the HP Reverb G2 virtual reality headset with high-resolution specs the company hopes will attract new enterprise users and consumers. The company is launching the second-generation VR headset in a partnership with both Microsoft and game company Valve. The headset will debut in the fall for $600.
The resolution of the headset is 2,160-by-2,160 per eye, which should help with the visual realism of VR, said John Ludwig, lead product manager for VR at HP, in a press briefing. He said the Reverb G2, which uses lenses designed by Valve, will have 2.5-times the resolution of the Oculus Rift headset, delivering sharper images that enhance the feeling of being transported to another reality.
“These are brand-new panels, not the same panels the Reverb G1 used, and they come with some amazing improvements in immersiveness,” Ludwig said. “The contrast and brightness are up significantly on these brand new panels. We’ve also reduced the persistence of the pixels. So with the contrast and brightness boost, you get a much better visual experience. With persistence, you get a more comfortable and fluid experience.”
HP worked with Valve and Microsoft to enable integration across the Windows Mixed Reality and SteamVR platforms. The new headset is a replacement for the HP Reverb G1, which launched in March 2019 for $600. That headset had visual flaws that made it feel like you were looking at the world through dirty goggles, but those issues aren’t in the new headset, Ludwig said.
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The hope is the product will lure more people into the virtual world. While VR hasn’t lived up to its original promise, it has been making steady gains during the pandemic.
“We at HP have been learning to adapt to this new normal,” said Anu Herranen, director of new product introduction at HP, in a press briefing. “Now the virtual way is the only way for us all. So this new normal has really accelerated and expanded how and when we use VR at HP. There will be a huge population of people working, training, and learning from home.”
Developing a new VR experience
VR has an opportunity because of the pandemic, as Zoom video meetings lack immersive interaction, according to HP, and physical meetings aren’t possible.
In April, SteamVR saw nearly 1 million additional monthly-connected headsets, tripling the previous largest monthly gain. HP believes that by 2021, 25% to 30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week and searching for new ways to collaborate. HP kept features such as high-resolution LCDs in a lightweight design and a 114-degree field of view. It runs at 90 frames per second.
The new device has enhanced audio that HP says will allow the user to experience a real sense of 3D space when immersed in the VR world — for example, letting gamers locate their foes with audio clues. The speakers for the device are similar to those in the Valve Index VR headset.
Like other modern headsets, it has inside-out tracking, or four cameras on the headset itself that get rid of the need for external sensors. Windows Mixed Reality also enables 1.4 times more movement capture, maintaining six degrees of freedom without external sensors or lighthouses, Herranen said.
With better resolution, users will be able to see text and textures more clearly, providing a better experience and increased retention. The hand controllers come with new intuitive control features including an optimized button layout, application and game compatibility, and the ability to be pre-paired via Bluetooth for easy setup.
HP designed it to be more comfortable. The headset has manual adjustments for your eye settings and a facemask cushion for better comfort. You can flip the facemask 90 degrees when moving back and forth from the virtual to the real world. And the headset also has better weight distribution and comfort for extended VR sessions. It connects to a PC via a single cable.
U.S. preorders will be available today on HP.com, the SteamVR homepage, and select channel partners.
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