Varjo just announced its latest headset, the XR-4, and while the company is primarily continuing to target high-end enterprise use-cases, this is the first headset in their ‘XR’ series that they will sell directly to consumers and without a hefty annual fee that was once required to use the headset.

Released back in 2021, Varjo Aero is the company’s first and only prosumer-positioned headset. Though high-end, it has also been a lesser-speced headset than the company’s flagship devices.

The new Varjo XR-4 is the latest headset from the company that has focused on creating the highest-fidelity tethered headset on the market. While the headset’s $4,000 price tag is surely targeting high-end enterprise use-cases, for the handful of prosumers out there who have cash to burn, XR-4 is actually the cheapest of the company’s enterprise-positioned headsets yet. It’s also the first of Varjo’s XR-series headsets that the company will sell directly to consumers and without a required annual fee.

For now the company is soliciting invitations to join the consumer waitlist for the XR-4, saying those on the list will be alerted when the headset is available in their given country.

Varjo XR-4 with SteamVR Tracking

Image courtesy Varjo

While XR-4 has its own inside-out tracking system, the company is also making a variant of the headset which ties it into the SteamVR Tracking ecosystem (as its prior headsets once relied upon).

Unfortunately it’ll bring the price of the base variant of the headset up by another $1,000. Varjo has confirmed that this variant of XR-4 can switch back and forth between SteamVR Tracking and the headset’s own inside-out tracking.

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It’s potentially also possible to eschew the $1,000 addition and instead add SteamVR Tracking to the base variant of XR-4 by attaching something like the Tundra Tracker and configuring it to represent the position of the headset. Though this will take a few extra steps compared to having SteamVR Tracking built right in.

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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."
  • Christian Schildwaechter

    This isn’t only interesting for “the handful of prosumers out there who have cash to burn”, but also for any developer interested in experimenting with AR. Varjo is one of only a few companies that allow access to their (very high resolution) cameras, so devs can try things like object recognition, room detection etc., all necessary for AR and actually interacting with the environment.

    Companies like Meta, Apple or HTC block access to the camera feed for privacy reasons, so all we get are the spatial hooks from the on-device room/object tracking, and the option to enable passthrough for some sections, without access to the passthrough itself, limiting them to what is now called MR with questionable use. Apps can’t see and interact with the environment, instead have to operate with only the pre-created virtual model.

    AR devs are only a small user group, but the XR-4 is actually a pretty great HMD that covers many of the needs of professional XR use. The one thing it is not particularly useful for is games, but there are many more exciting use cases.

    • XRC

      Ghostiam’s “Broken eye” application allows full access to Pimax Crystal eye tracking data including camera streams. Playing with it at the moment, it’s very cool.

      The four external tracking cameras should be accessible with similar application, as Pimax seem open in that respect, and have MR plans with a special faceplate.

      Huge thanks to Mbucchia for their amazing work on openXR toolkit, Quad Views Foveated and PimaxXR (openXR runtime), the community salutes you and hopes the legacy can be maintained.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        I have to admit, the Pimax Crystal basically passed by me, as I mostly associate them with a large FoV I don’t really care about. And AFAIR you’d need a special AR/MR front plate for color passthrough that isn’t available yet. Nonetheless any new option is welcome, esp. at somewhat moderate prices. I really like the XR-4 and the concept of viewing angle dependent PPD enabled by a combination of special lenses, eye tracking and special rendering. And I’d really love to play around with the XR-4 Focal edition for an idea what would be possible with MR/AR/XR passthrough good enough to keep the HMD on during normal tasks. I don’t really need one, just want one, and unfortunately money actually does matter, so that’s not going to happen.

        • XRC

          Hopefully you will can demo a XR-4 at some point, would be interested to hear your take.

          The Crystal is something of a departure for Pimax with maximum rendered fov of 103×103 degree, it’s all about angular resolution with the current lens providing 35ppd.

          A wider fov lens is in development (they are removable) look forward to testing soon. Each contains eye tracking emitters and mounting hardware to plug the lens into the top of the eye tube, so they are not inexpensive, but it’s a neat idea especially if accident occurs damaging a lens.

    • Dave

      “Companies like Meta, Apple or HTC block access to the camera feed for
      privacy reasons, so all we get are the spatial hooks from the on-device
      room/object tracking”

      You say that like it’s a bad thing. If Meta allowed access to there cameras, there would be uproar!

      • ViRGiN

        People act like even opening the camera feeds would spawn a glorious software overnight.
        You have other “companies” like Lynx that claim to not have such blockades, but these devices are primarirly bought by meta-haters rather than ambitious developers.
        Meta is slowly changing; seeing that your passthrough gets recorded/streamed instead of covering it with black screen like on Quest 2.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        I fully agree for regular apps/users, but it should be possible in a developer build that can be run only locally. They could still refuse to allow anything requiring camera access on their stores, or even bind each build to one specific device, so it couldn’t even be side-loaded anywhere else. I’d prefer if they made camera access available to developers with the user being asked every single time they launch the app whether to allow access, but I understand that they won’t offer that, as many people will just click “okay” without reading it, so the privacy problem would remain.

        There are numerous ways to protect user privacy. Locking access completely even where developers would only be able to see their own environment seems excessive. And IMHO that is indeed a bad thing, as it prevents a lot of interesting experiments with AR, despite HMDs now including the required hardware and everybody expecting XR to go that way. I trust myself more than Meta, yet I cannot access my Quest cameras with my own development builds used in my own office, while in theory Meta could siphon everything to remote servers for analysis without me ever noticing.

  • ViRGiN

    Nice! The walking affiliate links aka YouTubers like mrtv, and the vr flight sim gey will milk it out like never before.

    • Cl

      Always so negative unless it’s meta

      • ViRGiN

        I didn’t say anything negative about varjo, just accurately predicting what your main source of hands on info will be for the next few months.

    • Dave

      That’s harsh, I’m a huge fan of Steve aka Flight Sim Guy. Without there campaigning, there would be no prosumer Varjo Aero headset, so I say Sebastian and Steve have earned that right and have done a lot to bring Varjo to the spotlight. And you can’t deny for simmers it’s a wonderful headset.

      • ViRGiN

        I’m not a “simmer” (cringe worthy word made up to sound exclusive) so idk, but I can _easily_ imagine that higher resolution/fov are very desired features for these type of games.
        But no, I do not have respect neither for MRTV or “steve”, they are just walking billboards, doing low effort content, shilling everything provided and just using “techy” words to sound ambitious. Flight Guy said he bought like 6 Quests 3 and all of them had issues – made several videos about it, yet provided ZERO evidence.

        I dont even understand why anyone would respect MRTV ever – he also somehow got connected to the “simmers” community, yet he is incapable of playing anything, from regular VR games to actual simulators. ANYONE could spawn mid-air and just look around the cockpit and repeat the mantra of clarity, no mura, no screen door effect blablabla. He doesn’t know how to play anything. He is like rewtarded on a whole new level when it comes to actually using VR. He is not a VR enthusiast – he is just someone who wants to get rich cause of VR. He even launched a website to book “demos” of diferent VR headsets from ppl around the world, and that is just bonkers idea that obviously fails for obvious reasons.
        Really cancerous dudes.

  • How the hell does SteamVR tracking cost $1000 more than camera-based tracking? I would have expected it to be cheaper if anything. Are they including the price of the base stations?

    • Andrew Jakobs

      It’s extra, not a replacement of the camera’s. But I agree, lighthouse tracking doesn’t need to be $1000 more, even if it includes 2 basestations, a faceplate like other headsets have would be suffice.

    • ViRGiN

      It costs more so people who like the mental thought of more expensive equals better are easier pressed into it

    • Dave

      You are right, however base stations are not cheap. In the UK each individual station costs 180 pounds. So that’s $450 dollars for 2 right there. Add another $300 for the R&D for the faceplate and the usual Varjo markup costs and yes I can see them charging $1000. Daft I know but in the wider context of a $4000+ headset, it makes more sense.

      • ViRGiN

        Years ago Valve promised that hardware will get cheaper over time. That never happened from their side or their partners. Base stations 2.0 were more expensive than 1.0.

        If Valve really wanted to bring down the price, they would do so. But apparently keeping them high-cost and basically unsupported by anyone despite being claimed to be “open” works in their VR goals. Basically only Pimax has ever used them, and that’s cause they are chinese company who can do no more than a display swap and try to eye-ball new lens distortion profiles. Varjo was a flop, Aero was completly unnecesarry and it aged horribly already from day 1.

        Just think about it. Not one company picked up the gloves to make Meta-like controllers, but with lighthouse tracking. None.