HP have started teasing what they’re dubbing the “next generation” in PC VR headsets, and aims to set a new high water mark for the rapidly evolving virtual reality market. While no name has been given, this will be a follow up to their Reverb headset already available for commercial VR.
Developers, architects, and #VR users – this one’s for you.
— Z by HP (@ZbyHP) March 23, 2020
The blurb on the new Steam page reads:
The next generation HP Virtual Reality HMD–developed in collaboration with Valve and Microsoft–delivers an immersive, comfortable and compatible VR experience. It’s the new standard in VR.
Designed in collaboration with both Valve and Microsoft, this headset will hook into both of their VR systems natively. Valve obviously have SteamVR, which has provided the basis for headsets like HTC Vive and their own in-house Valve Index, but Microsoft partnered with a number of PC manufacturers (including HP) a couple years ago to launch Windows Mixed Reality (WMR). There is, however, already a good deal of interoperability between various VR systems. Gamers in particular can use games designed for SteamVR with WMR and Oculus headsets.
This is a follow up to HP’s Reverb headset, which debuted in October 2019 for a price of $649. That headset shifted from a bulky PSVR-like halo design of HP’s first generation Windows Mixed Reality headset to something much closer to the Oculus Rift’s sleeker form factor. While not a particularly new design, the first Reverb did feature a very high 2160×2160 pixels per eye with a 114º field of view. That already exceeds headsets like the Valve Index, which has 1440×1600 per eye, and the HTC Vive Cosmos, which has 1440×1700 per eye, both with a 110º field of view.
The key thing about the Reverb is that it’s targeted at commercial VR purposes, as opposed to consumers. With the new VR headset already having a listing in Steam’s hardware section, it’s more likely that this is more of a consumer oriented release of that commercial headset. Pixel density would likely remain the same, as it’s already industry leading, and the design is a robust take on a familiar form factor. The only potential innovations would be if the headset could tie in more closely to Valve’s SteamVR ecosystem, which features the option for using their Lighthouse base stations and Knuckles controllers.
We’ll have to wait and see for that, but with VR games pushing boundaries once more, and the recently released Half-Life: Alyx drawing critical acclaim for its defining VR experience, a new high-end headset could be high on many prospective buyers’ wishlists. Hopefully the price will be reasonable…