HP today announced Reverb (formerly codenamed Copper), its new VR headset which aims to deliver enhanced resolution and comfort. With a more thoughtful design and pixel-packed displays, Reverb sets a new bar for Windows VR headsets.

Having jumped into the VR space back in 2017 with a handful of others under Microsoft’s watch, HP’s first VR headset was pretty much identical to the headsets which launched from Acer, Dell, and Lenovo.

With Reverb—which will succeed the company’s first VR headset—HP is driving the design much more directly, though it is still building atop the Windows Mixed Reality platform (and inside-out tracking technology).

To that end, the company officially announced Reverb today, which will be sold as a Consumer Edition ($600) and a Professional Edition ($650), and launch in late April.

For more details on the headset’s announcement and the difference between the two versions, see our article on the Reverb reveal.

HP’s first VR headset (left), Reverb (right) | Photo by Road to VR

I recently visited HP at their Palo Alto campus to check out the latest Reverb prototype for myself; this is an updated version compared to what I saw back in February.

Let’s skip right to the fun stuff: the displays. Reverb has a 2,160 × 2,160 resolution display per-eye, which is a big step up in resolution even from current class-leading headsets like the Vive Pro and Samsung Odyssey which tout 1,440 × 1,600 displays. We’re talking about twice as many pixels as those headsets.

And while twice the pixels in roughly the same field of view would typically mean about half the visible screen door effect (SDE), Reverb actually gets an extra boost in SDE reduction (compared to the aforementioned headsets) because it uses RGB-stripe sub-pixels which tend to have a much better fill factor (less space between pixels) than the OLED displays used in many other headsets. So not only are you getting a boost in fidelity and pixel density, but fill factor is also going up because of the change to RGB-stripe.

SEE ALSO
Understanding the Difference Between 'Screen Door Effect', 'Mura', & 'Aliasing'

That’s a long way to say that Reverb offers class-leading visual fidelity and text legibility. The screen door effect isn’t invisible, but it’s getting surprisingly close—at this point I can’t make out individual sub-pixels at all, and even truly spotting just one whole pixel (in a sea of identically colored pixels) is a difficult task. Crucially, HP is achieving this clarity and limited SDE without using a diffuser (as Samsung has done on the Odyssey+, which attempts to hide SDE at the cost of sharpness).

Photo by Road to VR

Resolution aside, the latest Reverb prototype that I got my head into did show a few subtle artifacts, though HP claims these will be cleared up by launch.

First, compared to the prior prototype I tried back in February, the little grey dots have been significantly reduced, but still manifest in what looks (to my eyes) like mura (inconsistencies in color/brightness between pixels).

Second, the latest prototype display shows some red ghosting, which is interesting because I don’t recall seeing this in any other headset (usually it’s just white or black ghosting). HP said this is because the current display has slower red decay than it should have, meaning that red pixels can’t change as quickly as other colored pixels.

Third, at the extreme top and bottom of the field of view it’s possible to see some reflections at the edges, caused by the display reflecting off the plastic inside the headset.

As mentioned, HP says these will all be cleared up by the time the headset ships, and the progress I saw with the headset from just a few weeks ago bodes well for them being able to deliver on that claim.

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  • TwinFire

    Love it. Its just what the VR doctor ordered.

    • daveinpublic

      It’s also what the VR priest ordered.

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  • dk

    I like it …but for 600 it should have ipd adjustment ….and it requires a pc signal with more pixels than the pimax 5k/8k ….so eye tracking/foveated rendering is a must have

    • Tesla

      Not a must have. I have Odyssey+ and it workd very well with 1050 Ti. I wanted 200-300% subsampling, effectively 2280×2800 per eye rendering so I bought 2080 RTX for 660 EUR. This card is too good for this resolution. It has most of the time about 4-9 ms. So do not worry about any foveated rendering. It could be a benefit, but it is not needed at all, with current hardware. There is also 2080 Ti if somebody wants it for some reason.

      • Baba Nam Kevalam

        It is if you are using it for Simulators. A GTX1070 is the minimum for a Galaxy resolutions, and even with it it doesn’t looks that good.
        A 1080ti and up is very recommended if you want to enjoy good visuals.

      • dk

        have u seen the pimax benchmarks with 2080ti …the fps is in the gutter with plenty of games and they r using lower res pc signal than the reverb …..every single headset from now on must have eye tracking/foveated rendering

        • Byaaface

          I thought some of that is due to pimax software though.. not inherently just the resolution causing the low performance

          • dk

            have u seen a 2080ti trying to power a pancake game on a 4k 120hz monitor ……it is the resolution
            btw pimax now has fixed foveated rendering mode …but that’s a bit annoying

          • CHEASE

            Plenty of people enjoy VR with a gtx 970-level gpu, or even lower. The 2080 TI can push 4x as many pixels as the gtx 970. The 2080 ti is therefore enough for the reverb.

      • Guy

        I have Odyssey+ and it works very well with 1050 Ti at mid settings.

        That’s a straight up lie. I have an Odyssey, and came from an Oculus. An Oculus , which is lower res, can’t even play Robo Recall with top settings and decent supersampling on a 1080 TI without reprojection. Even MS’s own cliffhouse, which can run on anything, has reduced FOV and half the detail on a 1050.

        Lets do some math. The Vive has a ppd of roughly 11. That’s the equivalent of taking a 20″ 1080p monitor and sitting 1 inch from it!. It’s roughly 20/120 vision, meaning you have to stand at 20 feet to read something that a normal person can read at 120 feet. That’s awful…

        For near 20/20 vision in VR, you need 60ppd, roughly the same as sitting 1 foot and a few inches from a 4k monitor. This means the Vive would need a roughly 16k screen, 64 times the current resolution!

        Now, SuperSampling actually adds in details and clarity; you can literally see things that you could otherwise only normally see with more pixels, so it effectively adds resolution to a screen. More is usually merrier, with 400% being where you start to see returns drop off.

        This brings me to my point…with current res, you NEED supersampling. The new HP is 12% more resolution than 4k. So, fellow VR enthusiasts, can your PC run a game at high settings, at 90FPS, on a 4k monitor? Because that’s what you’ll need for a base experience without supersampling. With some SS, you would be rendering the game at 8k, 4 times more resolution than a 4k monitor!

        So in short, it will take a beast of a PC to power this headset in games, and you are either nearsighted, have shitty vision/strong stomach and cant detect constant reprojection, or just have a really really low threshold for quality VR. The next gen headsets need foveated rendering for the performance boost.

        • CHEASE

          Screen resolution, rendering resolution and PC power are all potential bottlenecks for a good visual experience. However, Increasing any one of these will likely augment the user experience. It’s not an all or nothing situation. When foveated rendering becomes available, great. Until then, getting higher actual resolution will help.

      • Tadd Seiff

        But this is about the Reverb, not the Odyssey+. What’s the resolution of the Odyssey+? I think the point is there’s WAY more pixels to push on the Reverb.

        I’m glad to hear a 1050Ti pushes the Odyssey+, I have a 1070 and a Vive1 and that’s fine, but I’m quite sure the Reverb would bring my 1070 to its knees…unless there is eye-tracked rendering.

        • Tesla

          I bought Odyssey+ and 1050 ti together. It worked really not badly. All games playable. But appetite grows as you eat, so I bought MSI 2080 RTX 8G Ventus for 660 EUR. Bingo! What an amazing move I did. Now, all games run at 250-300% Steam VR supersampling, which translates to about 2200×2700 per eye. It works with about 5-10 ms, so really really good. I use i7-6700k at 4.5 GHz and 32 GB DDR4-2400 RAM. Reverb should not be any problem for my 2080 RTX as I play even now the games at much higher texture resolution. I am curious about 1070. Maybe try to set your Steam VR supersampling at 200-250% and play some games you like. Observe the FPS. Set Video tab supersampling at 100% and Application tab certain game you play supersampling at your test value 200-300% ? and report back :)

  • one80oneday

    That IPD range just doesn’t work for me

  • Xron

    Whats the Fov?.. maybe I missed it and it was mentioned?
    Nevermind, saw it mentioned in other article ~100.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      I saw another article which mentions 114..

  • eckehard

    wirkt alles ein bißchen wie aus Halb-Fertig-Produkten der alten Brillen zusammengeschustert ……..

  • PJ

    I was planning on sticking with my Rift until I saw a headset worth upgrading too, this ‘could’ be it

    • Foreign Devil

      Might as well wait a few days to see what the “Rift-s” is offering.

      • PJ

        The S may not even be shown this week, I don’t expect the S to be much of an upgrade, slightly higher rez than a Rift, I side out tracking and lower price point, I expect it will launch at £249-299

        • Andrew Jakobs

          I expect is to have about the same specs as the Quest, but without the onboard SOC.

    • MosBen

      I’m in the same boat, but this doesn’t look upgrade-worthy to me. A bump in resolution over what we’re likely to see in the Rift S, but no other significant improvements, and I expect the Rift S will cost less than half as much. But my current setup is good enough for now. Wider FOV is what will really get me thinking about an upgrade.

  • Daemonic

    Take my money! Finally someone making sense.

  • Byaaface

    Very cool indeed. $600 is certainly not cheap, but for what you are getting (i.e. compared to the original vive or wmr headsets) its definitely something I could consider. My only concern is the cost of the graphics card needed to power this- this isn’t HP’s fault but I feel like video cards are still over priced and driving a ~4k x 2k pixel screen @ 90Hz will be quite pricey.

    • Byaaface

      That being said, I could see getting this and playing at low settings as graphics is less important than resolution + framerate for vr imo

  • digitaldeity

    Content is king. Whoever has the best content will get the most VR users. I can still remember wondering why nobody would buy an “intellivison” over an “atari 2600.”

    • Rogue Transfer

      Practically all content works on all PC headsets and that will be even easier with the new OpenXR standard(0.9 preview just released) being adopted by all VR players (likely) later this year.

      According to Revive’s developer, the API makes it much easier.

      Of course, Sony with their planned PSVR 2 will gain the most VR users, that’s certain.

  • oompah

    Thumbs up
    but pricey
    & I am waiting for a standalone system

  • grindathotte .

    It looks like they might have addressed the true FOV. In reality, unless you are some kind of bug-eyed monster, you can’t actually see the edges of the displays, but only an inner circle because you can’t get your eyes close enough to the lenses. On the Dell Visor I get around 75 degrees and on the Acer headset about 80. This will vary from person to peron, but I don’t think anybody is getting anywhere near the quoted FOV and all those unseen pixels are going to waste. Let’s hope this is an improvement.

  • AJ_74

    Whyyy??? Why does anyone care about this? The major flaw in previous WMR headsets wasn’t resolution; It was the god-awful controller tracking. They’ve done nothing to address that issue.

    How is it that Oculus managed to pack good displays, good optics, good controllers, and good 4-camera I/O tracking PLUS a CPU, GPU, RAM, flash storage, wireless radios, battery… and a MF active cooling solution into a VR headset for $399, but yet HP wants $599 for the Reverb?

    Internet: “Uhhh… duhhh… resolution?”

  • Camisade

    If only someone would come up with a good solution for those who need to be able to type quickly and fluently while in VR! Finding the home keys quickly (and hitting some of the less-used punctuation and function keys) is just too important in some applications (and games) and it’s a good part of what’s blocking VR adoption in those areas.

    • grindathotte .

      Making a keyboard visible in VR is not too difficult and could be done in a similar way as is done with the controllers. The tricky part is rendering your precise finger positions.

    • Matt Clark

      Microsoft has patented a ”revolutionary” ergonomic typing format using cirlces

      • Camisade

        I can’t find any mention of this…but there’s often a long gestation between patenting and production (which may never come to pass).

        Lots of folks have developed new ways of text entry, typically using chorded input (for one-handed methods). Ultimately, any new paradigm that throws out the way people have been doing it for their entire lives without granting an accessible, order-of-magnitude level of improvement, has a tough (if not impossible) row to hoe. :-/

  • Frogacuda

    Windows VR really needs to up their tracking game. If they did, they’d have something compelling here.

  • Moe Curley

    Looks great but…

    ” As HP has primarily designed Reverb for enterprise customers, it’s likely to be more of the former than the latter, while consumers playing complex VR games might see some of the reverse.”

    Wuh?

  • Nicola Casali

    LCD screens and fixed IPD. Pass.

  • Jeremiah

    I’m not sure why they’ve moved away from the halo design, whilst the Rift-S has gone in the exact opposite direction, seems like a backwards step.

  • CHEASE

    Why the cowboy hat emoji?

  • paul

    What res is the output from the GPU for this headset?

  • ZenInsight

    114 FOV? Better. But I simply refuse to get anything else until its 140+ (Fruit Ninja taught me the limitations of FOV). If that means foveated rendering via eye tracking… then fine. Add knuckles controllers and wireless and we have a deal (for under 1k total). If all these wishlist puts me out another 3-5 years, then I will just wait. I waited this long already and Rift/Vive doesn’t cut it imo.