Announced and launched today, Varjo’s enterprise-focused VR-2 brings support for SteamVR content and improves on the headset’s ‘bionic display’, which delivers ‘retina’ resolution at the center of the field of view. A variation called the VR-2 also offers integrated hand-tracking via Ultraleap (formerly Leap Motion).

Varjo launched its first headset, the VR-1, only back in February, but the company is already releasing the next iteration. Aimed at high-end enterprise customers, the VR-2 offers an improved ‘bionic display’, which the company says offers a better blend between the central ‘focus display’ (which offers ‘retina’ resolution of 60 PPD) and the larger ‘context’ display (which is much lower PPD but expands the headset’s FOV to an immersive 87 degrees).

The above through-the-lens photos, captured by Varjo, are an accurate portrayal of the difference in visual fidelity between Vive Pro and Varjo VR-2, but only for the center of the field of view (which is the only portion shown here). Use the slider to compare.

We’ve been impressed with Varjo’s execution of the novel display architecture, calling the company’s prior headsets a “breathtaking preview of VR’s future.

Varjo VR-2 Improvements

While the resolution of the VR-2 is identical the VR-1 (1,920 × 1,080 focus display, 1,440 × 1,600 context display), Varjo says the improvements in visual quality come from an improved optical combiner, enhanced calibration between the focus and context displays, and a diffuser which reduces the screen door effect on the context display. The company says the result is a smoother blend between the two different displays, making for a more natural appearance and a slightly larger area of the ‘retina’ portion of the view.

Image courtesy Varjo

The VR-2, which has built-in SteamVR tracking, will now also ship with support for SteamVR content. This will also apply to the original Varjo headsets.

Varjo clarified that only its native API currently supports independent resolution rendering of the high density focus display and the lower density context display, while SteamVR content only supports a single resolution. In order to not tax the GPU too hard, SteamVR content will render on the headset around 40 PPD, though users can optionally crank this up to 60 PPD if they have the GPU horsepower.

Varjo VR-2 Pro with Hand-tracking

Alongside the VR-2, Varjo will also offer a VR-2 Pro which will include integrated hand-tracking via Ultraleap (formerly Leap Motion), as well as a removable counterweight for the back of the headset to achieve better balance. The VR-2 Pro also ships with a 10 meter cable while the VR-2 ships with a 5 meter cable.

All Varjo headsets include eye-tracking, and the company says that new and old headsets alike will benefit from faster and more accurate eye-tracking calibration; the company claims its eye-tracking is the best in any VR headset. The video below shows both eye-tracking and hand-tracking in action on the VR-2 Pro:

Varjo VR-2 and VR-2 Pro Price and Release Date

Still aimed at high-end enterprise customers, the VR-2 is priced at the same $5,000 as the original. Meanwhile, the VR-2 Pro costs $6,000. That’s before adding base stations for tracking, controllers, and the mandatory $800 support license. Both headsets are available starting today.

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Earlier this year Varjo began offering the the XR-1 dev kit, which is a variant of the VR-1 but with high-quality cameras on-board for passthrough augmented reality applications. The company has not announced an XR-2 at this time, but we expect it will come in due course.


Update (September 15th, 4:06PM ET): A prior version of this article incorrectly quoted the VR-2 price at $4,000 and the VR-2 Pro at $5,000; this was $1,000 less expensive than the actual prices which have been corrected in the article above. Thanks to Tony “SkarredGhost” for bringing this to our attention.

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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."
  • That is a ballzy company. Not only do they put the screws to their clients for their $5000 headsets, but then they have the nerve to charge a $800 tax on their own equipment. Why not just say they headsets are $5800 and come with “Free” service? Why be petty with a “Mandatory Support License”? I’d be ticked off at the fee, if I ever dealt with them.

    But since this falls thoroughly under “Enterprise”, who cares? It’s more about headsets nobody will ever see. Might as well show off some VR gear from NASA. Is Stormlands out yet? Where is the Rift 2? Has the PiMax finally fixed their optical distortion issues? What happening with WMR 2.0 headsets? All things far more important then this junk.

    • David Quinn

      I think the 1200 USD fee is for “professional support”. That said it is mandatory otherwise your headset will become unusable next year with no email support and no software updates. Yeah, pretty stupid if you ask me. We do have some pro equipment in our office that cost few K USD but they don’t stop working unless we pay a yearly fee. Only companies we have experienced doing this yearly on monthly fees are software (CAD,3D, 2D design) but they of course don’t charge an upfront fee plus a yearly fee.
      So I agree it’s pretty stupid, not really ballzy because there’s a difference between courage and sheer stupidity.

    • Adrian Meredith

      The sort of companies(e.g. automotive, defence) that would use this would expect/mandate a support contract anyway so its expected.

      • David Quinn

        Most engineering firms couldn’t care less about such contracts from a display device.

  • Joe Pineapples

    So need some of this high end tech to trickle down to consumer VR. I have a Samsung Odyssey plus, and so far in 2019 with all the available headsets to purchase, (Rift s, Index, Reverb etc…) I still can’t see a compelling reason to change it for only the slight upgrade they offer. I tried the Reverb, but sent it back. LCD screens suck. The only headsets that slightly interest me at them moment are this, the Xtal or the Star VR one, but all are way out of the realm of affordablility. I suppose it does give a glimpse of what’s possible and what the future may hold for consumer VR.

    • Adrian Meredith

      oled screens aren’t exactly great either, from mura, black smearing, pen tile sde and still not having perfect blacks (because of low persistence). LCDS are better at everything other than black levels. Lets Hope samsung can shrink down quantum dot displays or bring back amoled+

      • Jistuce

        Quantum dot displays are just LCDs with a novel backlight that improves color rendition.

        Everything sucks, bring back CRT! Strap twenty pounds of glass and particle cannons to your eyeballs!

        • impurekind

          CRTs in modern times could really just be SED/FED TVs and that would solve the problem of them being huge while retaining all the benefits they offer.

          • Jistuce

            Almost all. CRTs still behave better at “non-native” resolutions(since there isn’t really a native resolution, just a maximum). But other than that, you’re totally right.

            That SED never went anywhere I consider one of the greatest crimes of the flat-panel revolution.

        • Charles

          They can get much better contrast ratios than regular LCDs (I’ve seen over 7000:1 without local dimming). In a lit room, OLED screens look the same as similarly priced high-end QLED TVs. But in VR I’m sure the black levels would be visibly imperfect.

          • Sven Viking

            OLED black levels could be pretty perfect in VR, but once you switch a pixel off fully it takes time to light it up again. That results in “black smear” where black pixels stay black for longer than they should and introduce ghosting in dark areas. VR headset makers have tended to keep pixels at a very dark grey instead of switching them off to avoid this.

            Pixels also take a bit too long just to change from very dark to very bright, by the way, causing milder black smearing even with dark-grey black levels. Oculus reduced this using “pixel overdrive”, just telling relative pixels to go even brighter than desired in order to compensate for the OLED shortfall in brightness when changing from very dark to very light. There’s a limit to how much it can compensate when changing from near-black to near-white though.

      • Mei Ling

        Quantum dots are used for color enhancement and improved saturation and nothing more. They don’t add anything to contrast or create better blacks. I believe you are referring to MicroLED technology which Apple Inc. is currently working on.

      • Charles

        Actually, black smear and non-perfect-blacks are a “one or the other” deal. Odyssey has perfect blacks. Vive has no black smear.

    • Greyl

      Controller tracking on WMR headsets suck. Controller response > slight improvement in optics.

  • Tags I812

    interesting.

  • David Quinn

    I’m not sure its legal for a company to do a comparison of their products with the competition on their own website where the comparison is not easily verifiable (for example resolution specs vs side-by-side photos). Others simply use terms like “competitor”, “alternative” or something along the lines rather than straight up naming the competing product.

    Also let’s be honest this is nothing more than leap motion strapped to the device plus a better reflective linear polarizer plate used (~30-50USD per eye) for the beamsplitter.
    Not that much of an update rather than a small iteration.
    Was expecting movable foveated region at this point but I guess that’s never hapening unless there’s a complete redesign of the current system.

    Overall pretty disappointed.

    • Joe Pineapples

      Yeah you’re right. It’s kinda good but ultimately dissapointing. $5k for 83 degrees FOV…Yuck. No thanks!

    • cataflic

      It started as a first developing step of a foveated rendering mixed ppi level panel , but until now, they actually have no feasible way to do that.
      Where’re very happy that now new panel 60 ppd do exist, but gluing a small screen on another with lower resolution does not seem to me to be an operation of high optical engineering and I suspect that they are stuck here….

      • David Quinn

        They are not glued, they are at a different position and a beamspitter (think half-mirror) mirrors one display while lets the image of the other display pass, so they are optically combined. Google has a similar patent. So does Facebook I think.

        That said to move the mirrored small display they need to tilt the beamsplitters and not in one but two axis, very fast. Those beamsplitters are rather big, so the moving foveated region version likely will never work no matter how much R&D is thrown at it.

        • cataflic

          I know it…semplification…!!all of these hmd make incredible claims and then works for years to gain an advantage that dissolves hitself every month passed withou selling a real device.
          In the middle ’20 16k display and foveated rendering will make this stuff feasible.
          screen…nvidia…simple solution…no claims, real stuff!
          AR is another planet to talk about!

    • Sven Viking

      You might be able to be sued by the competitor with the claim that you were disparaging their product with false information, but it’s not illegal anywhere to my knowledge.

  • sebrk

    I’ve had the opprtunity to try the VR-1 prototype and it’s just mindblowing. I had no problems reading the fine print on a virtual CD-case which is barely readable in real life. Looking forward to trying the VR-2.

    • David Quinn

      Well the optics of VR create a virtual image at a fixed distance. So if you are near or far sighted then yes, a 20/20 vision resolution VR headset may actually look more detailed than real life in some scenes.

    • gadgetgnome

      We were very lucky to have the CEO came to visit us and demonstrate a VR-1. It actually is VERY impressive. I have a Valve Index, a HTC Vive, and have had an Oculus Rift Touch. Compared to these, the VR-1 was crystal sharp and clear. I could read words clearly on a virtual monitor (words that weren’t blown up, they were reasonably sized dialog boxes/fonts) even when sitting virtually at an appropriate distance 5+ feet. I could read a fair number of control labels for a cockpit instrument panel without bending in close to read them. In a photogrammetry scene I was able to read book binding labels from a normal standing distance of probably 8-10+ feet. If I had the money I would certainly consider buying a VR-2 Pro even. Seriously if you are lucky enough to have the chance to try these out, you should it’s pretty awesome! It make me hope for the day that Ready Player One quality VR becomes reality and believe it may be still only 5-10 years away (rather than 20-30 years).

  • gothicvillas

    Immersive 87 FOV.. okay

    • Gonzax

      ha ha I thought exactly the same, I mean, the resolution is incredible, the kind we all dream of, but 87 FOV?? no, thanks, that’s not immersive at all. Not that I was to buy one, anyway.

      • Mei Ling

        This device isn’t designed for you to use at home. It’s strictly a business applications device.

        • Gonzax

          Yeah, I know that, it’s just that the phrase “immersive 87º” sounds really weird. It’s pretty obvious it is meant for enterprises where FOV doesn’t matter that much and resolution does, not to mention the price, of course. Amazing technology nonetheless.

          • Abion47

            That depends on the application. If it’s for things like remote bomb defusal or surgery or whatever, then every bit of detail counts so FOV doesn’t matter compared to having the maximum clarity possible of what you’re actually focusing on.

            For stuff like aerospace training, though, clarity may not be as important as full immersion when it comes to undergoing effective training. In that case, reducing graphical fidelity in favor of an immersive experience that comes with heightened FOV might result in better learning and retention.

            I’m personally of the opinion that, past a certain point, resolution becomes good enough that making it better results in increased manufacturing costs and engineering demands (not to mention decreased performance) in exchange for only a slight and subjective increase in quality. When clarity and SDE can be increased with lens technology and other non-display creative engineering applications, resolution takes a back seat compared to stuff like FOV and other quality of life improvements.

        • David Quinn

          I wonder how many businessmen read RoadToVR

        • Sion12

          that how every VR maker justified the high cost even though gamer is alway the main audience

          • Abion47

            That is objectively false. There are a ton of non-gaming applications for VR, so much so that there is merit in speculating that the true future of VR may have nothing to do with gaming.

          • Sion12

            I am not saying there is no non gaming application, i am saying like Vive, Rift, or most VR headset(outside WMR) etc all use enterprise as excuse for high price, when it core audience is gamer

          • Sven Viking

            How many gamers do you know with $6,000 VR headsets? That sounds like a small audience to me.

          • Abion47

            The core audience is gamers for specific headsets like Vive, Rift S, and Index. It is NOT the core audience for VR as a whole. That’s like saying the core audience for all four-wheeled vehicles are people who want to drive around sand dunes in ATVs. Do not confuse the demographics of an entire industry with that of specific products.

      • Rogue Transfer

        Worth noting that the Rift S has a measured horizontal FOV of only ~86°(according to multiple people): https://www.reddit.com/r/oculus/comments/but4ca/my_fov_results_with_the_rift_s_id_like_to_know/ and people seem to be accepting the lower FOV.

        It’s one of the lowest FOV currently, compared to the old Vive with 8mm facepad at ~110° horizontally and the Rift CV1 at ~94°: http://doc-ok.org/?p=1414

        • Gonzax

          Maybe it’s because I’m accustomed to the Index’s FOV but anything smaller than the CV1’s is totally unacceptable for me. I understand this is meant for enterprise but if it was a consumer product I’d never buy it. There is nothing more immersive than a very wide FOV.

        • netshaman

          I disagree, on my own i had measured a FOV of 94 degrees, H better than my CV1 , and 90 V ( 87 on CV1).
          I use an app specialy developped for this.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    Wow tethered and base stations for only six grand.

  • Justadude

    83° Gov? What is this the 90s, no thanks, I wouldn’t even pay 100% fov anything under a 100° fov in 2019.

    • Abion47

      Good thing you aren’t the target audience, then.

  • brubble

    5 grand? Plus 800 license? Plus other failure priced required bits and pieces? And a whopping 87° fov?
    Boy oh boy….

    • Peyton Lind

      Got to love the business or “enterprise” gouging. See it everywhere and it’s a joke. Consumer version of something will cost 50 bucks and the enterprise version will be 2 million.

      • brubble

        Military coffee pot? $12000

    • Mei Ling

      It’s the only VR device that offers “retina” resolution at that form factor, with that FOV and at that relatively low (yes low) price. For business customers it’s an inexpensive piece of technology that has potential to significantly improve productivity and lower costs in other areas. In other words it’s a bargain.

      It’s not a product designed for personal home use as I’ve already mentioned here. Average consumers are always shocked and shortsighted when they see news of highly priced enterprise products but this is a VR/AR focused website so everything to do with the technology is reported on here even the ones that you will never end up buying because they’re not aimed at the consumer market.

      • Immersive Computing

        Price is very good considering the expense of manufacturing this device in very small quantities.

      • brubble

        I know I know, cant you just let me bitch?

  • Master E

    Pretty sure this was always targeted towards engineers, science and surgeons etc… they don’t need a big FoV.

    Of course I see this and I think… Skyrim… drool

    But have to remind myself that’s not what it was aimed at.

  • The Bard
  • I love what Varjo is doing, but it’s weird that they are launching a new headset so close to the launch of first one

    • Sven Viking

      If they can provide a better product I’m not sure there’d be much advantage in continuing to sell something inferior to that to new customers? I’m guessing at the low quantities they’re manufacturing there’s less problem altering the process than there would be with a more mass-market headset, and enterprise customers are probably less likely to get annoyed that their recent purchase has been quickly superseded by something better than consumers might be.

      • Immersive Computing

        Biggest strength of a small company manufacturing in low volumes, their ability to quickly bring new product to market… cannot do that with high volume mass production where your products are sat boxed in shipping container for weeks whilst surface transport brings them from offshore manufacturing to market.

  • SVE

    Tried the V1 edition. Yes the small center portion was high resolution – great! But the surrounding area was meh, and felt very narrow at 87 degrees. Also, the eye tracking never really kept up with your rapid eye movements and felt distracting. It mainly proved to me that high resolution is valuable and possible. I’ll just wait for the mainstream manufacturers to up their resolutions and have full 120 degree FOV and no eye tracking needed. Bright future ahead .

    • David Quinn

      How was the eye tracking distracting if it didn’t do anything?

  • Sven Viking

    “ A variation called the VR-2 also offers integrated hand-tracking”

    I think that was supposed to be “the VR-2 Pro”.

  • mfx

    Still no eye tracking with a system that moves the high res where user is looking at ?

    I am sorry to say that but their marketing dept goes faster then the rnd one.

    The essence of the project was not in the V1 and they make a new V2 that still doesn’t have it…

  • Yoshi Kato

    It’s totally fine to focus on the enterprise and offer truly cutting edge VR systems. However, I wonder how this headset compares to the custom VR systems used in the military, etc. Sure, this headset may sound somewhat impressive when compared to the Vive, but when you’re getting into the $6000 range, you’re competing with high end VR systems that aren’t available (or known about) in the consumer market.

    Personally, I don’t think this headset will stand up to the next generation consumer headsets coming from Oculus, Samsung, Sony, etc. I would be surprised if this headset even competes with VR tech being directly financed by the government currently.

  • david vincent

    High PPD, integrated Leap Motion, Eye tracking… Finally a good HMD for the flight simmers. Well, for the wealthy ones…

  • Jarilo

    This story has more replies than most of the other articles on here, are people that interested in a $5k headset? lol

  • What happened to the HP Reverb? Another UHD solution using the version one Microsoft WMR tracking system and controllers.

    From what I have been reading there has been some design and quality control problems with the HP Reverb. I debated getting one but got the cold shoulder from HP promotional department after bugging them for a month to use it with LM simulator “Ascent: Eagle Has Left the Moon,” part of the “Apollo 11: ‘One Small Step For…’ VR Experiences” series that I had my control system tuned to for a MS WMR . I wanted to showcase the MS WMR as an alternate to my HTC Vive Pro with Trackers system for full body experience in “Excursion: 245 Minutes on the Moon” for the Apollo 11, 50th anniversary event at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

    In the end I went with the Samsung Odyssey Plus. A wise decision because I had no problems with its use. Both of the VR experiences will be available for free on Steam Games on November 29th (yep Black Friday) along with the launch of the VRSCC (Virtual Reality System Control Center) on Kickstarter that will include a free copy of “Lunar Wars” for single and multi-player use for anyone who wants a thinking space simulator that takes actual celestial mechanics into play. Here is a teaser trailer link https://youtu.be/pGTJozmXxmE https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ad2d36c37ed382d59dfeba57e3f460257c93bae36d131f4c1cd3351c4e4eeefe.gif