Following a surprisingly strong reception among gamers for its first-generation Reverb VR head-mounted display (HMD), HP has deepened its relationship with Valve as part of launching its newly announced Reverb G2 ($599). Using a keynote slot at Augmented World Expo 2020, the two companies, along with Microsoft, outlined their partnership around the new model Reverb and full SteamVR support.
HP’s Reverb G2 By the Numbers
The headline number for the G2 is unchanged from the G1 — 2K x 2K resolution per eye. That keeps it among the highest-resolution end-user devices out there but doesn’t break new ground. However, the G2 does have a newly designed LCD that HP says provides a much better image with improved contrast and clarity. The new panels also run at 90fps, making them a good fit for gaming. In addition, the G2 features brand-new optics designed by Valve and an inter-pupil distance (IPD) adjustment with a range of 60-68 mm. For me, this is a must-have for any decent HMD, so it is good to see HP adding it.
One of the biggest hardware changes is the addition of two side-mounted tracking cameras, bringing the total to four. HP claims the difference in tracking accuracy is obvious and substantial. The G2 also borrows Valve’s audio technology, with speakers and spatial audio similar to the Valve Index. Dual microphones are unchanged from the first generation Reverb. New controllers also sport a more traditional game controller layout — similar to those used by Oculus, for example. The grip buttons also have an analog readout now, for additional flexibility in application design.
Ergonomics Also Get an Upgrade
For starters, there is now a single-barrel 6-meter cable connecting the G2 to a computer. If you have a USB-C port that provides at least 6 watts of power, you can simply plug in the G2. If you have a lower-power port, you’ll need to use the included splitter and AC power adapter. You’ll also have to use something like that if you only have traditional USB 3 ports. The redesigned headband also has a flip-up feature, so you can quickly put the HMD to your face without having to fiddle with the headband. Video is DisplayPort 1.3, and the G2 ships with a DisplayPort-to-mini-DisplayPort adapter.
Gamers: HP and Valve Now Have Your Back
While the G2 is still a Windows MR device, HP has worked closely with both Microsoft and Valve to support SteamVR games and apps. So by launch, the plan is that you should be able to take full advantage of SteamVR content.
Buying a Reverb G2
If you live in the US, you can now pre-order a Reverb G2 for $599. You get the HMD, two of the new-design controllers, and cables. For backpack use, a shorter cable is available, as are replaceable face protectors. Other geographies will follow, of course. Unfortunately, don’t expect to actually get your unit until it is scheduled to ship in the fall. You can purchase the new controllers separately if you’d like to use them with an existing Reverb.
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