VRgineers is a Czech-based startup building a VR headset positioned strictly for the enterprise world. Compared to today’s consumer VR headsets, it’s undeniably huge and heavy, but a hands-on with their latest VRHero “5K” Plus shows that they’re on a path to delivering on their promise of unmatched image quality.

You may have heard the VRgineers name before; the company debuted their initial enterprise-focused VRHero “5K” headset last year. Still under ongoing development, the new VRHero “5K” Plus brings a range of improvements that show a positive development trajectory for the headset, including an upgrade from LCD to OLED displays, improved lenses, and better SteamVR Tracking and latency thanks to sensors fusion (with a Vive Tracker), ‘direct mode’, reprojection, and low persistence.

The VRHero “5K” Plus | Photo by Road to VR

First a quick note: we’re putting the “5K” part of the headset’s name in quotes because it doesn’t refer to the same 5K that would come to mind for most of us when thinking of TVs or monitors. While the headset’s total horizontal resolution is indeed 5,120 pixels, that’s split across one 2,560 wide display per eye, while the vertical resolution is just 1,440, not the 2,880 or so that would accompany a 5K TV or computer monitor.

We think this is confusing if not misleading, so we put “5K” in quotes to help our readers understand that it’s being used in a way that’s different than they would otherwise expect. It’s a shame really, to be distracted by the use of “5K” in the name, because the headset’s visual clarity really does impress.

And one final note, some of the pictures in this article show the slightly older version of the headset, though both use the same external design.

VRHero “5K” Plus

With that said, the VRHero “5K” Plus is rocking a pair of 2,560 × 1,440 OLED displays running at 70Hz. For comparison, the Rift and Vive use two 1,080 × 1,200 displays (@90Hz), while the Samsung Odyssey and Vive Pro use two 1,440 × 1,600 displays (@90Hz). So the VRHero’s displays are higher resolution than the former, and wider than the latter.

That gives the headset a very wide field of view—150–170 degrees by VRgineers’ measure. Its custom non-Fresnel optics offer quite astonishing clarity, likely the best I’ve seen from any modern headset not using microdisplays.

Photo by Road to VR

Individual pixels in the VRHero “5K” Plus are exceeding difficult to pick out (though you can glimpse clumps of them), sub-pixels are all but invisible, and the screen door appeared on the verge of vanishing. This isn’t retina resolution just yet, but it’s close enough for me to imagine what that’s going to look like when we get there.

Since this isn’t a Fresnel lens, I didn’t see any of the common ‘god rays’ during high contrast scenes, and chromatic aberration was very minimal (though that depends somewhat on the IPD setting).

While they’re not exactly positioned as competitors (as Pimax is aiming for consumers, and VRgineers for enterprise), the overall image clarity from the VRHero was notably better than what I’ve seen from the Pimax “8K,” despite the “8K” using higher resolution displays (3,840 × 2,160 per display, vs. 2,560 × 1,440), which is a bit counterintuitive. I asked VRgineers why they thought this might be the case; they say that image clarity is their number one priority, and so they selected the best components to maximize visual quality across the entire pixel to photon pipeline.

For one, they said that nothing is being downsampled; the demos I was looking at were running on a $1,200 NVIDIA Titan Xp GPU, which they say was cranking out 2,560 × 1,440 frames at 70Hz, per eye. Inside the headset, they’ve got the right components to handle that bandwidth without degrading image quality, the company told me. And then of course there’s the lenses, which VRgineers said were custom made for the headset and tuned for clarity, even at the expense of weight and other factors. Another advantage for image clarity would be that the VRHero “5K” has a somewhat smaller field of view than the Pimax “8K”, which means it sacrifices a bit of image size for increased pixel density.

As for tracking, the headset’s enterprise focus means that VRgineers expects professional tracking systems to be attached to the headset, but the company has also built support for SteamVR Tracking via a Vive Tracker. This has been recently improved compared to older implementations thanks to sensor fusion between the Vive Tracker and the headset’s internal sensors. Latency isn’t perfect just yet, but it’s solid enough.

The Perfect Headset? Not So Fast.

Photo by Road to VR

So if you stopped reading right now, you might walk away thinking that the VRHero “5K” Plus is the best headset out there—after all, it’s got incredible image clarity, right? Well, yes, and if you’re looking for visual fidelity above all else, it could fit the bill. But no single factor makes a VR headset great; if your interest in VR hinges around Presence (the feeling of truly ‘being there’), you’ll want to look elsewhere for the best experience. VRgineers have had to compromise on many aspects of the headset to achieve its impressive image quality; many of those factors become bottlenecks of Presence long before the image quality is called into question.

These aren’t real ratings, and by no means a complete set of factors contributing to Presence; this is a visual aid to show that optimizing a few factors at the cost of others can be detrimental to the overall experience.

The VRHero “5K” Plus is absolutely huge, so big that it feels like it belongs on an arm-mount by your desk side more so than resting on your head. And sure, it’s relatively “balanced”, but it’s so heavy that turning your head in any direction feels unnatural (especially tilting your head far up or down). The headset with its counterbalanced weight clocks in at 1.08kg, more than twice the weight of the Rift or Vive, or the equivalent of about 30 pairs of sunglasses—not to mention it’s much larger in volume, which further increases its rotational inertia (the effort needed to start and stop rotation of the headset).

Inside the headset things look great when you’re moving your head slowly (or keeping it still) but it’s hard to stay deeply immersed from one moment to the next when you’re moving so much extra weight around with every turn of your head.

There’s a number of other caveats too. While VRHero’s field of view was very wide (much wider than you’d expect from the likes of the Rift, Vive, PSVR and others), and mostly very sharp, the view in the headset is ‘display limited’ rather than ‘lens limited’, meaning the lenses had a somewhat wider field of view than the displays; by not filling the entire field of view of the lenses, there’s some gains in image quality, but you give up some immersion because the sharp edge of the display seems less natural than the soft vignetted edges of other headsets.

With the OLED displays at 70Hz, there was some visible ghosting against high contrast elements. Furthermore, there was distracting blurring at the left and right of the field of view, similar to what I saw with the Pimax “8K” at CES 2018, but not quite as intense (and none at the top and bottom). I also seemed to have some trouble with stereo-fusion, which means it didn’t feel entirely natural to align the images from each of my eyes into a coherent 3D image. Even after fiddling with the VRHero’s independent IPD and focus adjustments, I couldn’t get it to feel quite right—that feeling where your eyes ‘relax’ into their usual comfortable way of seeing.

Part of that trouble is likely related to the headset’s distortion profile not being spot on yet (which renders the scene in a way that accounts for the lenses’ inherent distortions), but another issue could be the canted displays (a common factor between the “5K” Plus and the Pimax “8K,” which gave me similar stereo-fusion trouble), which are angled with respect to each other.

Continued on Page 2: Target Market »

1
2

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.


  • Jistuce

    “We think this is confusing if not misleading, so we put “5K” in quotes”

    Well, yes. That IS the entire point behind the shift from listing solely the vertical resolution to listing solely the horizontal resolution(only not really because a fudged number looks better). If we wanted CLARITY, well, that’s an entirely different kind of labeling. And the VRHero 2560x1440x2… yeah, it just doesn’t roll off the tongue nicely.

  • I thought 90Hz was the minimum speed required to avoid most VR sickness? Even the DK2 had 75Hz and I felt awful in that on many occasions. So it doesn’t matter that it has super clear displays, the product is DOA for 90% of VR users?

    • impurekind

      Exactly. That’s why it concerns me every time I hear of a headset dropping below this. I know it is actually fine to go below it to a certain degree but it’s still annoying that for one area that has seen improvement another has seen a decrease in quality. I want a new headset that improves the stats across the board.

      • brubble

        My money is on Oculus to successfully pull us out of this quagmire of mediocrity. HTC sure as hell dropped the ball. Whos left who has any potential in the serious hmd market? Nonexistant players like Apple? MS?

        • Bryan Ischo

          How did HTC drop the ball? Are you referring to the fact that they’ve released an intermediate “gen 1.5” version of their headset? If so, how is that dropping the ball? Are you saying it’s better to not release anything new at all?

          • brubble

            IMO HTC have dropped the ball by adding a premium price to a mediocre upgrade which they’ve implemented only to milk the mid gen. If youre going to (re)release a 1.5 dont slap the consumer with a premium price, it sure doesnt lend well to upping adoption rates. It only serves to alienate potential new buyers and existing adoptees alike, not to mention send them over to Oculus. Save the premium price for a premium product not the mid tier milk version.

            I dont know the figures for commercial usage but I can only surmise the vast majority of users being home entertainment based. Just my opinion.

          • Ellie 187

            HTC Pro upgrade is not sending me over to Oculus… I’ll buy the Samsung before i travel back to 1080p per eye…. I think my Vive consumer edition is fine for the moment, depending on price of just the headset ‘upgrade path’ of the pro as they call it, will depend if i decide to buy the Samsung headset…. I’m not sure why you would think a vive owner would do a lateral move to a rift ? just to spend money to have the same system with slightly lower tracking accuracy ? At least with the reduced tracking accuracy of the Samsung MR headset the image clears up quite a bit compared to vive/rift, but I just don’t understand why you would think a Vive owner would go from a 1080p per eye headset to another 1080p per eye headset.. the differences between the consumer vive/rift is too nuanced.

            Why are people assuming Facebook is going to release an upgraded Rift?? they are pushing forward into the mobile/self contained space with VR with their stand alone systems “Go” and their other one (forget the name at the moment)… seems like they feel lower costing headsets with lower performance is the future for themselves.. and why wouldn’t they move in this direction? FB core audience is teenage girls, so they are building an all in one product that is semi-good enough for people who don’t have high performance PC’s….

            I don’t see Facebook going into a performance specs arms race for high end VR.. The Rift will probably be the top of the line from Facebook for the foreseeable future.. Their standalone devices that constantly do press releases for, that don’t require a computer appears to be their main focus above all else. I’m not convinced Facebook sees it in their best interest to chase after hardcore gamers with top of the line gaming rigs (actually a very small demographic)…. Do people really believe FB bought Oculus because they wanted in on the high end gaming market??? no …..they purchased Oculus for expanding VR into social media, they are not going to continue into the hardcore gaming segment, I just don’t see that materializing from everything we know now.

          • brubble

            Holy shit man, obviously I shouldve expanded to say- when Oculus offers up their next HMD. And why would they you ask? because thats f-ing progress. Progress makes the world go round. Progress ensures companies stay alive. Progress is why we even have HMDs for you to sweat into. Progress is why we see a new phone every year for dummies to spend their hard earned money on over and over and over again.

            Id be shocked if the new oculus was a paltry upgrade like HTC has on offer. Perhaps because Oculus have the financial backing and dont need to milk mid gen.Yeesh.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      VR Sickness in most cases isn’t brought on by lower refreshrates, but due to other things, mainly fixed lenses is one of the biggest problems. I have the VFX-1 were I can focus and align (IPD) the lenses perfectly and I have absolutely no problems with VR-sicknes. and those displays only run at 60hz (if that) and have a very low resolution, same is with the Vuzix VR920 which has a higher resolution. With the DK2 where you cannot set the focus or the PHYSICAL IPD I get pretty sick pretty fast. I have tested other (selfmade by others) headsets which did have full focus/ipd settings but also with low refreshrates (60hz), and I also didn’t have any problems.
      People really underestimate the influence of focus and IPD.. Just an example, get some prescriptionglasses which are not for you, now go walking around with them, and you’ll see you’ll get sick pretty fast too (or start to try looking over/under it).
      refreshrate is more for a nice sharp image which improves the quality and experience, but hasn’t got that big an influence on the actual VR sickness.

      • Ellie 187

        “refreshrate is more for a nice sharp image which improves the quality ”

        refresh rate doesn’t do anything for sharpness of an image. its just the measure of how many times the image is being shown to you in a given time frame….. fluid animation gets better the higher the refresh rate, but the image doesn’t get anymore clear no matter how high the refresh rate gets.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          Just as you say yourself, the moving image ‘seems’ sharper due to the higher refreshrate. well, at least that’s what I meant, just like with movies, to me HFR makes the image more fluid/sharper (and for movies it’s ugly as hell, gives it a real soap-opera look)..
          But you’re right, for a regular image, the refreshrate won’t change the sharpness of the image.

          • El Pingüno

            what’s the progress to use vr headset with your glasses?

  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    Everything that use the deprecated lighthouse tracking system are ugly and overly bulky.

    • Jistuce

      If by deprecated, you mean the V1s… well, V2 isn’t gonna change much in that regard. The technical reasons for the existing appearance don’t go away. Every device still needs a boatload of sensors festooning it to catch the laser sweeping across.

      • Konchu

        I dont think they have to be ugly the LG seem smooth on the outside from what we have seen so has the newer pimax.

        • Jistuce

          That’s fair. I’ve assumed there’s a good reason the Vive is the way it is instead of the entire external shell being an IR-transparent plastic(like modern televisions where the remote window is hidden, or the Rift with its concealed IR LEDs), but I suppose it is entirely possible HTC just decided that pockmarked with more craters than the moon was their “style”, or they were working around some early limitation that doesn’t exist anymore.

    • Martin Holecko

      Lighthouse tracking is only one of the options you have with VRHero alongside OptiTrack and AR Tracking. It was added by popular demand from our clients. A much smaller/lighter clip-on for lighthouse v2 is coming soon as well.

  • impurekind

    This is great but why is there always a compromise in one of the other areas when another is improved? Why can’t we get a new headset that increases the resolution, the field of view, and the Hz all at the same time?

    • NooYawker

      I’m sure if the larger companies invested the time and money it could be done much quicker. But until they start a race against each other, it’s slow moving. And smaller companies like this one doesn’t have the funding.

    • Jason

      Physics?

    • Gregory Martin

      I wouldn’t even need a 190~210 FOV. I would just love to have like 125 FOV with a 25~30% increase in resolution while keeping the weight at or below a 10% increase and all other things (ergonomics, setup) being equal.

      I mean the Vive and Rift are getting a bit long in the tooth and seem like they only barely broke past the technological thresholds of truly innovating in a new field of industrial design (vs. cobbling together other technologies that had been optimised for their own industrial silos — i.e. smart phone screens and video game software/gpu architecture made for flat screen experiences).

      You would assume a few years on now that escaping the gravity of these other fields/industries would be approaching a critical threshold. But, maybe my thought process is all wrong here because I am comparing mature, integrated pipeline innovation, such as yearly smart phone releases, with true forms of new invention (let alone the requisite innovation that has to follow the invention).

  • theonlyrealconan

    “The overall image clarity from the VRHero was notably better than what I’ve seen from the Pimax “8K,” despite the “8K” using higher resolution displays (3,840 × 2,160 per display, vs. 2,560 × 1,440), which is a bit counterintuitive.”

    Pimax 8k is only 1440 upscaled to 2160. And when you upscale, you also upscale the space between pixels and when you are projecting that onto a higher FOV like Pimax is doing, that is why you are noticing a sharper image from VRHero.

    • >>>>when you upscale, you also upscale the space between pixels

      Eh?, you don’t upscale the space between pixels, that’s impossible.

      The screendoor effect comes from the tiny spaces between LEDS in a display panel. It is part of the hardware.

      Upscaling uses an algorithm like Bicubic, Bilinear, Nearest Neighbour to add new predicted pixels into the image that never existed before, these new pixels try to keep the image smooth and sharp but you will always lose detail because the new pixels are just (formula based) approximations of existing pixels.

      • Dave

        I think you’ve misread his answer. Space between the pixels – I don’t think the guy is talking about the screen door effect or upscaling space between the pixels – his talking about the additional pixels you have to render when performing a resample to a larger target image size.

  • brubble

    I can add this one to the ever growing pile of hmd’s I dont care about. Cmon, we’re getting further into the unwieldy “Spaceballs” sized helmet arena now, imo it should be striving to go the opposite direction, but its clear the tech just isnt quit there yet.

    Im sick of floating around in a sea of “me toos”.
    Who is actually going to dev the next true next-gen hmd? My bet is it’ll be Oculus.

    oh and lose the stupid eyes, just for starters.

    • Ellie 187

      Why are you assuming Oclus is going to continue chasing the high end ?? I’m convinced the Rift is going to stay as is. Not much money in releasing expensive headsets…. Oculus Go is going to be the future for Facebook Oculus IMO … I know its not what gamers want to hear, but as a business analyst, this is how I see FB moving. They want larger profits, not fringe profits that the Rift is. They are going to aim VR at everyone by making it inexpensive, aka no high powered computer pushing pixels, instead self contained VR systems is their future.

  • GrangerFX

    That looks comfortable. Imagine how fun a four hour gaming session will be in that thing.

  • Didn´t know about this one, but despite the nice visual quality it seems really bulky (1 Kg? OMFG). Anyway, since you mentioned it Ben, I wouldn’t say those are ingredients of Presence, as they technically are ingredients of Immersion. Subtle but interesting difference. Roughly speaking, Immersion has more to do with the VR system specs and less with how the user feels in VR. Thus, Immersion can lead to Presence, but it´s not always the case and it´s not even mandatory… (back in 1968 Ian Sutherland said he had achieved presence even with wireframe graphics and very rough ergonomics and general specs). Check this for a more detailed explanation: https://skarredghost.com/2016/11/09/the-difference-between-presence-and-immersion/

  • REP

    $9,000 and not necessary better than Pimax 8K? No thanks. With $9,000, you ought to have VR RETINA DISPLAY already!

    • Martin Holecko

      VRHero 5K Plus displays have actually higher pixel density than the Super Retina of iPhone X (518 ppi vs 458 ppi) but I suppose you don’t refer to the marketing term of Apple but individual pixel visibility. With the current state of hardware, we found these to have the optimal balance between image sharpness and the power needed to provide those images. 99% of VRHero users report no screen door effect and the clearest image ever in VR, which is what we aimed for.

      • El Pingüno

        what do you mean by current state of hardware? do you know the production process of superAMOLED, right? It’s basically lithograph based processes which, in theory, might produce as dense displays as transistors on cpu.

        • Martin Holecko

          You are right, there are certainly OLED, AMOLED, as well as super AMOLED displays with even higher pixel density than ours. But as with every technology, their usage comes with a trade-off. They are very often too small for VR devices if you want to achieve a certain field of view. Or they are produced in too small volumes. We are always on a lookout for the best suitable displays, as it is together with the lens system a crucial component of the image quality. Let us know at hello@vrgineers.com if you have any good tips!

  • Yulius Halim

    They named it VR Hero for a reason. Only super heroes like Aquaman can wear it without feeling uncomfortable…

    • El Pingüno

      like a GoPro hero?

      • Yulius Halim

        In this case, they use the word “hero” for a different reason. It makes people feel like superheroes, as they wield the camera with ease

  • Andrew Jakobs

    “We think this is confusing if not misleading, so we put “5K” in quotes”

    Well, it’s not misleading, it’s actually the right nomination.. That you and a lot of people don’t know the actual technical term and misinterpret 4K for “4K UHD” that’s a whole other problem.. But 2K, 4K, 5K or 8K actually only refers to the horizontal resolution, the adjective is what describes also the vertical resolution (like “4K UHD”).
    8K horizontal with only 1 pixel vertical is technically stil 8K, but in your mind “8K” actually refers to “8K UHD”.

    Good to hear to have ‘normal’ lenses as the fresnell lenses is the one thing that I have more of a problem with then the ‘low’ resolution of the current Vive and Rift.. Hope their real next incarnations won’t have fresnell lenses anymore.. Rather have a slightly more heavier headset than those ‘awful’ lenses.

    • Caven

      I disagree about it being the right nomination. I see it as being just as misleading as describing resolution in sub-pixels instead of pixels. Sure, if you took the displays out of the headset you would essentially end up with a 5K desktop, but that’s not how a headset is designed to be used. The full pixels of each display also act as as sub-pixels, because it takes two pixels (one from each display) to provide the visual data necessary for a stereoscopic view. And since the views are meant to overlap, you’re not even getting twice the viewing area the way you would if you used two monitors on a computer to generate an extended desktop. And when it comes to dual-monitor setups, I generally don’t hear people describe their setups based on total horizontal resolution. Instead, they usually describe resolution on a per monitor basis.

      I think it would be far more honest to describe resolution per eye.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        You’re right there, but in reality the reason why they ‘quote’ it and saying it’s not real 5K or 8K is due to them thinking it also means a specific vertical resolution, and that’s were they are wrong, it’s what they THINK “4k”, “5k” or “8k” means, not what it technically actually means. And technically it can be described as being 4k or 5k or 8k as the ammount of pixels in total on the horizontal is 4k, 5k or 8k.
        In reality, they shouldn’t name their headsets after a resolution, then you just won’t have this confusion..

      • I think on the same lines, almost. Most people can not gain much understanding from a resolution and in my opinion, people are really concerned with the SDE followed by the overall clarity (brightness, contrast, sharpness, speed etc). Using 5K, 8K or “Per eye” still tells you very little of its quality or ability.

        Same happens in monitors, the resolution gives no indication of how good they are. My Dell monitor is 2k but the clarity of it knocks my 2k IPS Thunderbolt monitor (£800 when I bought it) sat next to it out the park. Night and day difference and they are both calibrated with a Spyder 5 Pro. When grading I have to drag from the thunderbolt to the Dell screen. I also have a 144Hz Gaming monitor that is vastly inferior to all of them for clarity but it rules in fast paced gaming for smoothness and enjoyment.

    • Andy

      I completely agree. If 16:9 is the only allowed resolution then Ben had better get started on some strongly worded emails to LG and the likes that call 21:9 monitors/TV’s 5K as well.

      The fact is that “4K” existed before UHD started using as well anyway yet apparently we are all fine with 3.8K being called 4K. I’m not quite sure what Ben’s personal vendetta against everything not 16:9 is.

  • $9000 seems a bit exaggerated to me, really. Furthermore, the design is very cool… but it seems dedicated to gamers more than to enterprises…

  • Dave

    This might appear to have good visuals however I would seriously question the commercial use of this device. It’s only practical use would be sitting down, being still watching a video – not whats the point of using VR for that…

    • Martin Holecko

      It is not a gaming device and indeed, very fast head movements like in a shooter-game could be uncomfortable, but for normal working use like designing, prototyping etc. and looking around, our users report no problem – check demos here https://youtu.be/K-HNO6laTZk In our experience it is much more about balance than the weight itself. That said, reducing size and weight is our next version priority.

  • sambes06

    It looks…big.

  • Konchu

    Does anyone else think “I’m Batman” when they see this?

  • brandon9271

    Aimed at enterprise but has eyes in the front… Lol. It looks like a Batman cowl designed for the elephant man

  • paul

    I wish Oculus would share their design with headset designers. Let others make headsets that still use the tracking sensors.