Varjo, maker of high-end enterprise XR headsets, today announced Aero, a pared down version of the company’s latest headset that offers industry-leading fidelity and advanced features for a cheaper (but still hefty) price that makes the company’s offering more attractive to medium-sized businesses and wealthy VR enthusiasts.

Read our full review of the just-announced Varjo Aero

For the last few years Varjo has been making some of the most advanced VR headsets on the planet, but with prices ranging from $3,200–$5,500 (plus an $800–$1,500 annual fee) it’s no wonder that Varjo counts Fortune 500 companies among its clients.

With the announcement of Varjo Aero, the company aims to launch a more affordable headset that’s more attractive for smaller businesses and the upper echelon of VR enthusiasts. It’s still far from cheap though; Varjo Aero is priced at $2,000 (with no annual fee), but this excludes SteamVR Tracking base stations and controllers.

Image courtesy Varjo

Varjo Aero is essentially the same as the company’s latest XR-3 headset, except without the ‘bionic display’ (which provides retina resolution at the center of the FOV), nor any of its advanced passthrough AR capabilities.

Even without the bionic display, Varjo Aero still offers a stunning 35 PPD with aspheric lenses that give it the best clarity and largest sweet-spot that you’ll find on any VR headset (except for, well, Varjo’s more expensive headsets).

Varjo says that orders for Aero begin today and the first shipments are expected by the end of 2021.

Read our review of Varjo Aero here and check out the full specs below:

Varjo Aero Specs

Resolution 2,880 x 2,720 (7.8MP) per-eye, mini-LED LCD (2x)
Refresh Rate 90Hz
Lenses Aspheric
Field-of-view (claimed) 134° diagonal, 115° horizontal (at 12mm eye-relief)
Optical Adjustments IPD (automatic motor driven)
IPD Adjustment Range 57–73mm
Connectors USB-C → breakout box (USB-A 3.0, DisplayPort 1.4)
Cable Length 5m
Tracking SteamVR Tracking 1.0 or 2.0 (external beacons)
On-board cameras 2x eye-tracking
Input None included (supports SteamVR controllers)
Audio 3.5mm aux port
Microphone None (supports external mic through aux port)
Pass-through view No
Weight 487g + 230g headstrap with counterweight

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Cless

    Oh man, an interesting alternative. It is a true high quality option too. People that have 3090’s will probably have not too much of an issue paying the extra cash to upgrade to this one.

    • spel_t

      I’d think that too, except I ordered my 3090 yesterday and now have nothing left to buy this with. Sad.

      • Cless

        Well, to be fair… I’m sure in a parallel world where prices aren’t insane, you could have gotten both lol

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  • VRFriend

    The specs are very nice and looks like some progress above HP Reverb G2. However the price is 5 times more. Not sure about it then.

    • Andrew

      I’d go further. At 5x the price of my Reverb, the missing retina display and when I saw a side by side comparison to the Reverb, it took me a second to be sure which was which. Then one has to buy the stations and controllers.

      Personally I believe Varjo are in for a shock at how badly this headset will fail in sales. The price makes it a complete non-starter for retail customers.

      • VRFriend

        You write you tried it? Please desribe your experience.

        • Andrew

          There’s a TTL screenshot comparison on vrfocus between the Aero and the Reverb. I wasn’t sure which was which because they’ve turned the brightness way down on the Reverb for some reason. It doesn’t look dark on FS to me at all. Ergo, ignore the contrast difference because it’s fake. The resolution of the Aero is better but it’s not $2000 better :D

          • VRFriend

            They probably did not power the USB cable to show how worse was the G2, while it might be even better, beside the resolution :)

          • dk

            varjo has 50.6% more pixels
            but comparing it is a bit like comparing a vw polo to an S class

          • Andrew

            Not when you look at the screenshots

          • dk

            screen shots can’t do much

          • Andrew

            Personally, I don’t agree with you but that’s just my view

          • dk

            I agreed that screenshots can give u an idea about the screen ….just not as good as an idea as the ppd

            weather it’s worth the price is a different topic

          • Zerofool

            They didn’t turn down the brightness of the Reverb, they just used the same camera exposure settings for both photos to illustrate how much brighter the Aero is.
            Through-the-lens photos can never show the qualities of a lens-display system fully, you must try the HMD for yourself to have an objective opinion. But because it’s a product you’ll never see in retail, the next best thing is to hear the opinion of as many people who’ve tried it.
            P.S. The Aero is 3,(3)x the price of Reverb G2, not 5x.

          • Andrew

            So what you’re saying that the brightness in the Aero is actually too high so they under exposed the Reverb to make the Aero screenshot look less over bright? That doesn’t ring true to me.

          • Zerofool

            The only person that can say with 100% certainty is the one who took the photos. But I suspect Varjo did encouraged every reviewer to demonstrate the difference if possible – this is what they said/showed on the announcement stream (0:19:00-0:21:00):

            https://youtu.be/46diHmggYt4?t=1140

          • VRFriend

            Hi. Add controllers cost to Varjo. 500 USD for G2 and 2000 USD for Varjo without Valve base stations and controllers. It is 5 times more expensive.

          • Zerofool

            You do have a point. But isn’t the G2 $600? (that doesn’t change the math in a meaningful way)
            Anyways, I think the target audience of the Aero is the hardcore simmers, the people who’ve previously got the Vive Pro (with lens mod), all the Pimaxes, the G2, the Vive Pro 2, etc. Some of them already purchased the VR3, btw. They’re already part of the SteamVR/Lighthouse ecosystem, so for them it will be “just” the $2k (or 2400 Euro in Europe, we’re always this “blessed”).

      • Frozenbizkit

        Thing is they want to target the super enthusiast and not the general population and casual. They will likely make as many as needed and that’s all

    • Andrew

      I’d go further. At 5x the price of my Reverb, the missing retina display and when I saw a side by side comparison to the Reverb, it took me a second to be sure which was which. Then one has to buy the stations and controllers.

      Personally I believe Varjo are in for a shock at how badly this headset will fail in sales. The price makes it a complete non-starter for retail customers.

      • Cl

        Thats why its for enterprise and enthusiasts. I dont think they expect to sell alot to regular consumers.

      • Cless

        Yeah, like everyone knows, this things are clearly noticeable by watching a screenshot on a display.
        Try them for real, then come back to us with a straight face and repeat what you just said.

    • Rayza

      it makes sense on the Quest 2 though, yeah the sound is dreadful but it’s made it easier for people to check it out at a very reasonable price. The Vive deluxe audio strap is perfect for it. I don’t know how anyone can put up with sound quality that bad long term though, i managed 2 days before leaving it until i got my vive strap attached.

      • sfmike

        I had the same experience and the Vive strap works with it amazingly well.

    • Cless

      “Wait, there is not audio and you need to attach some bulky headphones like a partisan”

      I’m sorry, but this cracks me up every time I read it. Yeah, I’m going to buy a 2k headset to use it with shitty integrated audio. If I’m paying 2k for a headset, I’m pretty sure I have at least a 200$ of headphones to pair it with, though a +500$ is most likely.
      There is no parallel reality where a VR headset is paired with anything close to headphones of that caliber. I’m pretty sure the market they are targeting are the same ones that will have the best (or close) of everything. That includes headphones.

  • VRFriend

    487g + 230g = wait a minute. 487g or 700g? :) This is not nice to play the numbers like that. Everyone uses headstrap and this counts too. 700g is the weight. Forget the 487g.

    • benz145

      Yes it’s 717g — I think it’s a fair and useful way to explain the weight, especially if the headstrap is weighted for balance. For instance, if headset A is 487g housing and 230g strap, and headset B is 230g housing and 487g strap, I’d much rather have headset B!

  • Holdup

    I wasn’t expecting a stand alone but I was at least expecting something for consumers, I’m disappointed, and I’m also disappointed for htc, I won’t get my hopes up for pimax or oculus.

  • Chloe Mcholoe

    god, why is NOONE, NOONE making a 600-500$ PCVR headset?
    it doesn’t even need high res or wireless. just make something with tracking as good as the quest. the resolution of quest 2 or even better g2 and nice controllers, and an fov of at least 110 and then that’s it. literally all so many of us want is basically a native pcvr no facebook quest (no compression and performance hits that way) or an hp reverb g2 with usable tracking! it doesn’t even have to be 300$ like the quest, it can be freaking 600$ and i’d still buy it.

    • Xron

      For what? Most people can’t buy decent new gen gpus to run it anyway…. (~300/400$) Pc market kinda dying cause of chips shortages and bitcoin …

      • Mrfox Babbit

        Wrong

      • XRC

        It’s possible to buy GPU you just need to hunt around? Recently purchased 3080Ti on a deal 12% under MSRP

        • Liam Shepherd

          maybe where you live. Where I live 1030s are going for over $600 and the best gpu you can get under $1k is a 1650.

          • XRC

            Live in London UK, not that’s it’s relevant as bought my GPU online from popular overclocking retailer. No difficult…

          • Cless

            You are joking right? 1030s? Intel’s CPU working as gpus are better than that lol

      • sfmike

        So true. You can’t even buy a PS5.

    • ViRGiN

      Because PCVR is dead, and if you’re a “simmer”, you’re not representative. “Enthusiast” are circlejerk, not a market. Deal with it.

      • Liam Shepherd

        Clearly someone hasn’t played steamvr before. Its in so many ways superior to quest and this is coming from someone who hasn’t even owned a steamvr headset. there is just no way a standalone could match the feel and quality of a pcvr headset, apart from maybe the rumored steam standalone. Apparently it can run HL Alyx

        • ViRGiN

          Superior? Someone is getting extremely defensive with their $10 cooking Mama vr purchases. Get real

          • Jistuce

            At least pick a game that actually exists for your ridiculous strawman arguments. Or make up a consistent one. We’ve gone from “enthusiast circlejerk” to “casual scrub trash” in two posts.

            Meanwhile, Facebook has hard-hitting cinematic AAA titles like Fruit Ninja VR. (I actually own this, because I had store credit after the Oculus Rift outage.)

          • asdf

            what are you talking about? it is superior…. so many more options and freedom, and you can use a quest on steamvr…. so it has anything youll ever need or want

      • Chloe Mcholoe

        why are you so angy? is it because of your username?

    • Cless

      with tracking as good as the quest – The Vive Pro 1
      the resolution of quest 2 – The Vive Pro 1
      and nice controllers – Index controllers (that you can pair with your Vive Pro 1)
      FOV of at least 110 – The Vive Pro 1

      Also, better image quality thanks to OLED and plenty of 2nd hand market if you want it! Did I fix it for you?

      • Chloe Mcholoe

        wait you got one for 300$? second handed is gross tho to me. sweeaaaaaaaaaaat

        • Cless

          Well, it was barely used, and it showed. And not only that, but I have my own face covers, so… why would I use somebody elses..? lol

  • Mrfox Babbit

    Pfft. No sound, not retina display, 90hz… all this for 2k?
    Pass.

  • Mrfox Babbit

    No controller, no tracking, no sound, not retina display, 90hz? @ $$2k?? Pfft not a f’n chance in hell.
    The varjo boys need to check their ego.

    • ViRGiN

      This is what people get for “I don’t care about Facebook” lol

      • Frozenbizkit

        I would soon support a smaller company than support the Aholes at Facebook.

        • ViRGiN

          I’ll support whoever comes out with quality products, be it Apple, Facebook, or even Twitter VR.

          Supporting crap hardware from crap store isn’t going to make VR better in any long term, aka SteamVR.

          • asdf

            quality products just at the price of humanities privacy…. yeah not worth it. So you saying “I’ll support whomever comes out with quality…” is really fuckling stupid and is you ignoring the horrendous things they do just for your own pleasure. grow up and dont be selfish

          • Mrfox Babbit

            “Humanity’s privacy”?! Gimme a break… talk about f-ing stupid.

  • JohnM

    I was ready to order this until I saw it needs a Nvidia card to run it. I have a AMD card. Was they any mention about future AMD card support?

    • ViRGiN

      Not really, but if it makes you better, I can reply like a Varjo representative:

      “Thank you for your interest! It means a lot to us. Currently there is no AMD support, but I’ll forward your reQuest to our development team. Stay tuned, and in the meanwhile, enjoy your VARJO10 discount code for 10% off your next purchase!”

      • JohnM

        lol

      • asdf

        10$ off 2k is pretty good though. once you can actually play it that is haha

    • benz145

      I’m reaching out to Varjo about this.

  • Arturs Gerskovics

    The deal breaker for me is lack of built in audio. I could spend 2k for the headset okay but then wearing additional headphones on top would make it very uncomfortable and surely soon enough it would drive me mad. This Varjo model is literally unbuyable due to this.

    • benz145

      Yeah, maybe a good third-party solution will emerge.

      • Cless

        … You mean… companies that make good headphones…?

    • Cless

      Lol, the deal breaker for you is the lack of built in audio? No, be sincere, its the price. People that can throw 2k for a VR headset, don’t care about throwing $200 or even more for some okayish/good headphones that will trash absolutely anything that any VR company could pair their VR headsets with.

  • Ragbone

    Is there a setting to adjust the weight of the headset?

  • Skippy76

    Wow.. 5x the Reverb and no microphone???
    No thanks!
    I will stick to my Index until the next gen is released