Microsoft’s Lack of XR Strategy Could Lead to Another Zune Moment

At least from the outside, it appears Microsoft isn’t actively competing for a seat at the XR table, which is fairly odd coming from a company that pioneered enterprise AR while simultaneously wrangling some of its top OEM partners to make a fleet of PC VR headsets for consumers in 2017. Microsoft gained a great early start, but now the Redmond-based tech giant is positioned to play catchup, which historically hasn’t worked out that well. Could we be in for another ‘Zune moment’? If Microsoft goes in half-cocked, maybe.

Microsoft released the first-gen Zune in 2006, an MP3 player that looked to compete with Apple’s largely dominant line of iPods. By “largely dominant,” I mean Apple not only had majority market share of the product category, making it synonymous with portable music at the time, but had already produced numerous generations of iPod Classic, iPod Mini, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle. Apple wasn’t the first to make a portable MP3 player, although it was the first to make one everyone wanted.

Now, I can hear the Zune defenders in my head, and I sympathize. Zune wasn’t terrible, and it came at a time when full-color screens in MP3 players were just becoming a thing. It had a compelling reason to exist, which is why Microsoft directly competed against iPod Touch over the course of three device generations before eventually giving up the goat in 2011 and discontinuing the third-gen Zune. Many chalk it up to poor marketing, lack of brand cache, and not enough music to choose from. Zooming out, Zune’s ultimate defeat belies a larger pattern of behavior.

Image courtesy Digital Trends

Zune didn’t generate the sort of loyal customer base that Apple had in spades because entering rapidly evolving product categories isn’t easy. By the time platforms solidify, companies that come too late are usually tasked with flipping what’s left of undecided users or attracting users away from other ecosystems with unique selling points. Even with viable hardware on your side, it’s not an easy thing to do.

To put it into perspective, Zune entered the market one year before Apple announced the first iPhone. From that moment Microsoft was forced to play catchup not only with its MP3 players, but with its widely maligned Windows Phones which came afterwards, of which there are famously few defenders. Needless to say, Apple’s iPhone is still kicking, and that iPod/iPhone success story is why Apple is largest company in the world.

Breaking the Zune Curse?

Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft has success stories. Windows is still the world’s largest PC operating system. Azure Cloud Platform competes alongside AWS and Google Cloud. There’s a reason why we call digital slideshows a PowerPoint no matter which program you use to make them, and that’s thanks to Microsoft’s ongoing dominance in the general computing space. When Microsoft gets in early and sticks it out, you don’t generally get a Zune.

To its credit, the company had the foresight to release HoloLens in 2016, a full two years before unicorn startup Magic Leap could get its first standalone AR headset out the door. Three years later it released HoloLens 2, which directly competes today against Magic Leap Two. When HoloLens 3 will arrive, or whether it’s even in the works, still isn’t clear. We’re hoping they stick it out and it doesn’t turn into a ‘Zune moment’ down the line.

The first wave of WMR headsets launched in 2017 | Image courtesy Microsoft

In 2017, Microsoft also managed to assemble a host of major OEMs to create what would be the first Windows VR headsets, which included PC VR headsets from Dell, Lenovo, Acer, HP, Samsung, and Asus. It was a good opening gambit to break up the Oculus/HTC Vive PC VR binary that had developed a year prior, although those Windows VR headsets weren’t just new hardware destined to hook into Steam content. Microsoft made its own Windows Mixed Reality Store which ultimately failed to compete with Steam for developers, which was kind of like a Zune owner somehow getting all their music from iTunes and not Zune Marketplace.

And we’re still early, although that may not be the case for long. Compared to smartphones today, the current XR landscape is toddling out of its infancy. You’d be surprised how much competition there is already, not only across multiple hardware platforms, but entire content ecosystems—something you can’t just grow over night. Currently major contenders are Meta, Sony, HTC, Valve, Pico, Pimax, and Apple starting next year. The future leaders are shaping up to be Sony, Meta and Apple, the last two moving into mixed reality (Meta Quest Pro, Meta Quest 3, Apple Vision Pro) which feature VR displays and color passthrough cameras for AR tasks, while Sony is already in their second-gen PlayStation VR. Things are changing, and Apple jumping into XR could see a host of other companies deciding they want a piece of the pie fairly soon.

Whatever the time frame, eventually the amount of money Microsoft leaves on the table is going to pile up until it can’t be ignored. That’s essentially the strategy the company has decided to take with Xbox at least, with Xbox Game Studio head Matt Booty saying in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview that VR just isn’t big enough yet.

“We have 10 games that have achieved over 10 million players life-to-date, which is a pretty big accomplishment, but that’s the kind of scale that we need to see success for the game and it’s just, it’s not quite there yet with AR, VR,” Booty told the Hollywood Reporter.

So, while we’re no closer to knowing when Microsoft will decide it’s the right time to enter into VR (or MR for that matter), the company is well equipped and funded to break the Zune curse. Whenever Microsoft chooses to compete in consumer XR, any potential failure can’t be blamed on the lack of resources. The company now boasts a vast collection of game studios it can weaponize, which includes the entire Zenimax family of studios, including Bethesda, Arkane Studios, id Software, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, and ZeniMax Online Studios. Provided the contentious Activision Blizzard acquisition goes through, Microsoft will also own World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, and Diablo franchises. That untapped library of IP and developer talents could make whatever Microsoft decides to bring to the XR table a serious contender.

Just the same, if the megalithic Microsoft can’t overcome what must be a massive internal friction to put out something focused, timely and well-supported, whatever it makes might as well be Zune.

ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos Coming To PSVR And PC VR Very Soon

ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos is a VR visual novel that found some success on Oculus Quest when it first released late last year. Even though that’s not the type of game you’d typically expect to see in VR, it’s now expanding with releases slated for PSVR and PC VR this year.

ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos

Today ALTDEUS developer MyDearest announced the game would release on PC VR next month on February 19th and then PSVR two months later on April 15th for $29.99 on both platforms.

Last month we reviewed ALTDEUS, which is a spiritual follow-up to a preview VR visual novel game, Toky Chrono, from the same developers. For all intents and purposes, ALTDEUS improves on its predecessor in every notable way.

In his review, Henry Stockdale wrote:

MyDearest have done a great job on ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos, proving that visual novels can work in virtual reality and it’s clear they took onboard feedback from Tokyo Chronos. Having added new language options and some much-needed immersion to the core gameplay, I found myself completely immersed in ALTDEUS’ story overall. Despite interactivity remaining minimal compared to other VR games, this one comes highly recommended for visual novel fans.

ALTDEUS boasts a 15-20 hour story with branching narrative points and even includes both English and Japanese voice acting options. The game also includes mech battles for moments of actual interactive gameplay and even lets you attend 360-degree virtual J-Pop concerts.

Do you think you’ll check this one out on PC VR or PSVR this year once it makes its way over from the Quest? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below!

Low-Fi: Dev Q&A On Massive Cyberpunk VR World, Quest Spin-Off, And More

It’s been over a year since IRIS VR Inc. first introduced us to LOW-FI via Kickstarter and we’ve been excited ever since. Having previously released a separate cyberpunk project for VR, Technolust, IRIS now aims to bring us an open-world sandbox game to VR, giving players full creative freedom.

Playing a police officer assigned to city-block 303, this new cyberpunk game promises open-ended choices, allowing you to “Patrol the streets and the skies, solving mysteries, fighting crime, or giving in to corruption and your own desires”. Promising a non-linear structure, this world is free to explore as you wish, choosing which crimes you wish to investigate and multiple ways to resolve them.

LOW-FI Cyberpunk VR Adventure

It smashed that initial Kickstarter target to reach over $81k in funding and hit several stretch goals, such as an additional “wastelands” area with a larger action focus and your own cyber-wolf companion. These goals also included the promise of a “Next-Gen PSVR” port, notably becoming the PlayStation 5’s first confirmed VR Game. 

We got a fresh look at it as part of our UploadVR Summer VR Showcase 2020, but recent news that the PS5 won’t support existing PSVR headsets (outside backwards compatibility) has led to much debate about VR’s future on Sony’s next-gen console. 

With Jim Ryan ruling out new VR announcements in the near term, we reached out to Blair Renaud at IRIS to discuss the implications this has on LOW-FI’s announced PS5 edition, also taking the opportunity to discuss just what we can expect from its gameplay.

Henry Stockdale, UploadVR: Firstly, thank you for joining me here Blair. For any readers unfamiliar with LOW-FI and it’s development, could you please introduce yourselves?

Blair Renaud: Hey, I’m Blair Renaud. CEO and director of IRIS VR INC. Grumpy old game dev. Probably best known for LOW-Fi and Technolust (Oculus Rift Launch title). I’ve been in the game industry for about 25 years now.


UploadVR: You’ve described LOW-FI as a huge open-world game, bringing us a sandbox style adventure with action elements.  What inspired yourselves to create such an ambitious project?

Renaud: VR is one of the greatest artistic tools humanity has devised. We have the ability to transport the user into a new world of our creation. I’m a huge fan of 1980’s cinematic classics like Blade Runner, Robocop and Total Recall. So it’s natural for me to want to build similar worlds. If I had a holodeck, this is the type of program I would want to enjoy.


UploadVR: Considering the setting, LOW-FI has often compared to a VR version of Cyberpunk 2077, something you’ve also done via Twitter. In terms of gameplay though, would you say there’s much common ground between the two?

Renaud: No not really. I mean, I havent played CP2077, so I can’t really say how similar it is. Did I compare it? Maybe just to say I have flying cars and they don’t? haha. I really don’t think it will be very similar at all outside of the general genre of cyberpunk. LOW-FI will have optional gunplay, whereas it seems to be the focus of CP2077. We have no fail states. What I’m trying to create is more of an open world for a player to do whatever they feel like doing, whereas CP2077 seems to be a bit more scripted and (dare I say) linear. Though we will have multiple story-lines for the player to follow, I like to think that we’re doing something a bit different with LOW-FI.


UploadVR: Within the game, we’re playing a police officer that’s been assigned to a crime-ridden section of city-block 303. What sort of characters can we expect to meet along this journey?

Renaud: Most of the human inhabitants of the world are permanently jacked into The Platform, a sort of Facebook metaverse. The only people left are the other “low-fi”, who for one reason or another can’t or won’t subject themselves to it. Some have medical reasons, others ideological. We’ve got all types though. Corporate execs, Ugly Bob the pawnshop owner and his robot companion Penny, a mechanic who deals in illicit firmware, a cybernetics dealer named Juan who’s trying to steal advanced tech from the AI who reached an intelligence singularity and many more. On top of that there are a ton of robots of various types left behind by the singularity.

UploadVR: You’ve described it as a non-linear experience with a branching narrative, so I’d like to ask about story progression. Is that dependent on what crimes you investigate, or is there set criteria to meet before players can advance?

Renaud: That’s something I want to leave completely up to the player. For example; right off the bat, you’re told about the officer you’re replacing, who is dead in the morgue. If you want to investigate that, you’re free to do so. Clues and twists await. Or, if you want to just go to the casino and pay the slots in hopes of buying a cool arcade machine for your apartment with your winnings, you can do that too. I really want to leave it all open ended. As I said. No “save the world” stuff.


UploadVR: A morality system is also featured, giving players creative freedom in how they solve crimes, from simple arrests to accepting bribes. Does that factor into the branching paths, or are there other consequences to your actions?

Renaud: There isn’t really a morality system per se. There are however a lot of morally grey options for the player to explore. They have consequences in the same way they would in the real world. If for example, you accept a bribe, that’s on you. You’re really the only law in town, so you’ll probably get away with it. What consequence letting someone get away with a crime might have really depends on the crime though. I want those feelings to be on the player. I’m not here to tell you what I think you should do in any given situation. There’s no score system, outside of maybe money. A lot like life.


UploadVR: Does gunplay factor into that too? It’s been mentioned as an optional feature previously, so it sounds like you can solve crimes without resorting to weapons.

Renaud: Gunplay is completely optional and will be limited to use against AI. I feel like if someone want’s to play shooty-man VR, they have plenty of outlets for that. That’s said, there will be full quest-lines involving hunting down rogue androids if they player chooses to pursue them. They pay well, but I can’t guarantee some of the androids wont try to tug at your heart strings.


UploadVR: LOW-FI garnered attention as PS5’s first VR game but right now, a new PSVR headset is unconfirmed and existing headsets can only be used via backwards compatibility, Hitman 3 and No Man’s Sky being prominent examples. Jim Ryan seems to have ruled out a successor being released before 2022, so where does that leave LOW-FI’s PS5 edition?

Renaud: I can’t speak to anything about a possible PSVR 2 outside of saying that if/when it becomes available, we fully intend to port LOW-FI to it. In the meantime, we are a registered Sony developer, and are also working on a non-VR version of the game.


UploadVR: You’ve ruled out a PS4 version previously, but previous comments suggest that was more about the PS Move controllers than the console itself. Was this truly an insurmountable hurdle?

Renaud: Though the PS Move controllers are a terrible fit for the game, that’s not the only reason. PS4 is very last-gen at this point. LOW-FI is a next-gen VR title.

UploadVR: During the Kickstarter campaign, “Next-Gen PSVR” was mentioned and PS5 support was a Kickstarter stretch goal. Has Sony given you any indication to their future plans? 

Renaud: Yes, but I can’t speak to them. Nor am I sure that they haven’t changed. Recent announcements indicate that they may have.


UploadVR: Your last Kickstarter campaign update confirmed a pitch had been sent to Oculus, regarding a LOW-FI spin-off called Agency for Quest. Has there been any further developments on this?

Renaud: Yes! It’s been approved! It still needs funding to justify taking people away from LOW-FI though. Fingers crossed for us!


UploadVR: Lastly, is there anything you’d like to share with LOW-FI’s fans?

Renaud: I want to thank all the current backers for their support of course! They have made my dreams come true! I’m a holodeck programmer! And if anyone want’s to help support next-gen VR and get in on the action they can purchase LOW-FI at and get immediate access to the development build which we update all the time. Then, when the game is released, they’ll be able to choose what platform they get a key for (Steam, Oculus, ect.).

Fore more on Low-Fi, be sure to check out our coverage hub and let us know what you think down in the comments below!

Latest Windows Update Includes Visual Improvements for HP Reverb G2 and Other WMR Headsets

Valve, HP and Microsoft teamed up to create the new HP Reverb G2, and before it hits doorsteps this month there’s already a few software improvements to visual quality waiting for you in the latest version of Windows 10, which also affects some Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets too.

Alex Vlachos, formerly of Valve and now working as a partner architect at Microsoft WMR, gave us a brief look at some of the visual improvements now live in the latest version of Windows 10.

The update features some notable tweaks including corrections to chromatic aberration and light leak, which, in addition to HP Reverb G2, also affect Samsung Odyssey+ and the original HP Reverb G1.

“For the Samsung Odyssey+, we were able to improve chromatic aberration artifacts at the periphery,” Vlachos explains in a blog post. “For the Reverb G1, we were able to improve chromatic aberration artifacts, reduce radial distortion, apply light leak correction, and improve rendering performance by about 8% in most applications from an updated and optimized hidden area mesh.”

And what does that mean exactly? Well, here’s a quick explanation about some of the visual software tweaks included in new Windows 10 update.

WMR Visual Quality Update

Correcting for visual artifacts isn’t simple work. Most modern VR headsets use Fresnel Lenses, a compact lens design created to have a larger aperture (also called ‘eye box’) and a shorter focal length than a standard, ‘smooth’ convex lens. Those circular ridges in your VR headset’s lenses are actually the edges of multiple refraction points which guide light to your eye. Fresnels are smaller and lighter, but introduce more artifacts into the mix that have to be accounted for ahead of time to get you the clearest picture.

Extremely large Fresnel lenses in Pimax “8K” | Photo by Road to VR

In the HP Reverb G2, those newly designed lenses (created by Valve) are supposed to drastically reduce God Rays, an artifact of Fresnel lenses that causes light to appear to stretch from the center of the lenses outward, creating an aura-like glow most prevalent in high contrast scenes.

Chromatic Aberration is another big offender too when it comes to visual clarity and accurate color reproduction. It’s an artifact caused by red, green, and blue light refracting through lenses differently, often causing a fraying of red and blue light most visible on a VR display’s periphery.

Uncorrected chromatic aberration (left), corrected image (right) | Image courtesy Microsoft

With the new software correction, Microsoft has applied its improved algorithms to better pre-distort the rendered image for a clearer, more color-accurate picture, guiding those pixels more precisely where they need to be.

Another issue, which specifically affects LCD panels like the ones in the HP Reverb G2 and G1, is Light Leak—not the light leaking in through your headset’s nose hole, but rather the light leaking from display panels without perfect filters to match the chromatic range of red, green, and blue light. On LCD displays, a green pixel can leak a little red, which when viewed through a lens can appear as ghosting or even a magenta color fringe.

Simulated light leaked (left), corrected image (right) | Image courtesy Microsoft

To reduce Light Leak, Vlachos says Microsoft has developed correction algorithms reducing both color fringing and the overall color tinting, which he says works “in most situations where there is enough light in neighboring pixels to compensate for the artifacts.”

– – — – –

Thankfully there are some very capable brains at Microsoft, Valve, and HP helping to address these common ‘VR pain points’ and make them more of a thing of the past—or at least a thing that only the most pedantic of the VR nerds will need to talk about when it comes to new VR headsets.

If you’re looking to see what all the fuss is about with the PC VR ecosystem’s latest headset, check out our two-part preview on the HP Reverb G2 [part 1part 2] detailing all of the headset’s improvements.

We also have our patented deep dive review coming soon, so stay tuned.

The post Latest Windows Update Includes Visual Improvements for HP Reverb G2 and Other WMR Headsets appeared first on Road to VR.

Microsoft Improves Visual Fidelity For Reverb G2 And Other WMR Headsets

Microsoft detailed a new software update available for some Windows MR headsets, including the Reverb G2, that will increase the visual fidelity by improving corrections made for artifacts such as chromatic aberration and light leakage.

The blog post was written by Alex Vlachos, a former member of Valve’s VR team who joined Microsoft as a ‘Partner Architect in Mixed Reality’ earlier this year. Vlachos says that many of these new corrections and improvements came about during the development of the HP Reverb G2.

The team “spent considerable time improving our approach to reducing chromatic aberration”, resulting in a new algorithm that makes better corrections to the image, and results in a cleaner view when viewed through headset lenses.

“A white pixel on the panels will refract through the lenses and separate into red, green, and blue pixels visible to the viewer. Chromatic aberration correction aims to adjust for this by pre-distorting the rendered image so that the image viewed by the user after lens refraction appears as a single white pixel as intended,” the blog post explains.

Vlachos says this helps eliminate a lot of chromatic aberration, as per the image below.

Chromatic Aberration Windows MR
Left: an example of chromatic aberration. Right: Corrected chromatic aberration on Reverb G2.

Microsoft also made improvements to correct for light leakage. The new corrections implemented will reduce color fringing and color tinting that comes from light leakage, as pictured below.

Left: No light leakage correction (simulated). Right: Light leakage correction.

While these improvements came about during development for the Reverb G2, they will also be applied to the Samsung Odyssey+ and the original HP Reverb. For the former, Microsoft has improved chromatic aberration at the periphery of the lenses. For the latter, the team was able to “improve chromatic aberration artifacts, reduce radial distortion, apply light leak correction, and improve rendering performance by about 8% in most applications.” All of these improvements will also be applied to the Reverb G2.

The update is available now in the latest Windows Mixed Reality VR runtime, which can be downloaded using Windows Update.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our Reverb G2 unboxing video and keep an eye out for our full review of the headset coming later this week.

Exclusive Hands-on: Part Two – Everything New About Reverb G2

HP recently announced its latest VR headset, Reverb G2. It boasts a substantial number of improvements over the original Reverb and clearly represents the next-gen of WMR headsets. We were fortunate enough to get an exclusive hands-on with the headset; in our first article we detailed G2’s standout feature—its high resolution displays and impressive clarity. This time around we’ll be talking about everything else the headset brings to the table.

While the first wave of Windows VR headsets that launched back in 2017 felt relatively homogenous, HP began blazing its own trail with its original Reverb headset (which I’ll call G1 for short) in 2019, and just a year later the company plans to push yet further with Reverb G2.

For a full breakdown on G2’s features and specs, check out the announcement article; this piece will be focusing on the experiential aspect after our hands-on with the headset, and a bunch of other details we’ve learned from HP—everything except the headset’s visuals, which we covered in Part One.


Image courtesy HP

One of the big changes from G1 to G2 that doesn’t fit neatly into a spec sheet is ergonomics.

For one, G2 now has a physical IPD slider where the original had a fixed IPD. An IPD slider allows users to adjust the spacing between the lenses to be optimally aligned with their eyes. Optimal IPD alignment is important for comfort, clarity, and immersion.

HP confirmed that the Reverb G2 IPD adjustment ranges from 60mm to 68mm. As you’d expect with other headsets, when you adjust the slider on the headset, the WMR software on your PC automatically updates the software IPD setting to match.

Another ergonomic improvement from G1 to G2 is a change to the head-mount. While the original—with its circular rear design—was reasonably comfortable, G2 uses an oval shape (very similar to that of Index), which seems likely to fit a wider range of users.

G2’s rear head-mount has changed considerably in shape | Photo by Road to VR

The shape is made to find purchase on the back of the head—right on the occipital bone—which actually has a sort of horizontal mound under which the lower part of the oval can be tucked for an ideal fit. I didn’t dislike the comfort of the original Reverb, but feels like an improvement still.

While most of the rest of G2 looks pretty similar in shape to G1, HP actually redesigned all the foam padding on the headset (the parts that cradle the back of your head and face), and it makes a notable difference. G1’s foam was a little more firm and not as wide. G2’s softer and wider foam spreads the pressure on your face over a wider area. Additionally, the face gasket is now magnetic, which makes it a breeze to remove to clear or replace. Given HP’s collaboration with Valve, this feature seems inspired by Index, but unfortunately the face gaskets aren’t interchangeable.

Exclusive Hands-on: HP's Reverb G2 is the King of Clarity

We don’t usually talk about a headset’s tether in relation to ergonomics, but compared to G1, the new cable on G2 makes a difference. The G1 tether was double-barrel—essentially two cables side-by-side. This caused two issues: the first was weight, as the heavy cable could be felt tugging on the back of the headset, and the second was flexibility, as the double-barrel design reinforces the cable against bending in a certain direction.

G2 fixes both issues by moving to a single-barrel cable which is pretty much the same width that you’d expect from Index or any other major VR headset. It’s surprising what a difference it makes just to have less tether weight pulling down on the back of the headset.

Photo by Road to VR

Quickly, while we’re on the topic of the cable, it’s worth mentioning that G2 has a lengthy 19.5 foot (6m) tether, which is a few feet longer than what you get with Rift S. The extra length is nice just to have more slack for cable management, but there’s an additional unexpected benefit: because WMR headsets have a playspace setup process which uses the headset itself to define the boundary, the extra cable length means you can trace a slightly larger space. That’s nice for anyone who has their PC tucked in the corner, or those with very large playspaces.

Back to ergonomics. I’m not bothered by the available nose-space of most VR headsets. But G1 always felt cramped and would sometimes put pressure on the bride of my nose. Thankfully, G2 has a larger nose-cavity than the original, and it adds some rubber light blockers there to boot.

And even the headphones have ergonomic benefits…


Image courtesy HP

HP pretty much grafted Index’s excellent headphones onto G2—using the identical, novel BMR drivers—and I’m definitely happy about that. The move from against-ear headphones to off-ear headphones has a number of advantages.

First is comfort. Having nothing touching your ears is just plain-old better than headphones that push against your ears. What’s more, once you get them into the position you want—as long as you don’t bump them later—you won’t even need to adjust them next time you put on the headset. Against-ear headphones on VR headsets pretty much always get pushed around between uses and need to be adjusted every time.

The second advantage to off-ear is immersion. The unique shape of your ear is actually an important part of how you experience sound. Carefully designed off-ear headphones (like those on Index and G2) expose the sounds to a broader part of your ear, making virtual audio sound more like sound that’s coming from the real world.

Photo by Road to VR

In my hands-on time with G2, the headphones sounded good but seemed to be lacking some bass compared to Index. When I asked HP about it, they said that the early prototype that I was testing doesn’t have its final EQ, and assured me that—thanks to to the use of the very same drivers and amp—they will be able to perform identically to Index once calibrated. That’s good news, because Index has, hands-down, the best audio solution of any VR headset out there. And if things turn out as HP says, G2 will have it too.

Continue on Page 2: Tracking & Controllers »

The post Exclusive Hands-on: Part Two – Everything New About Reverb G2 appeared first on Road to VR.

New HP Reverb G2 Details: Thinner Cable, Half Resolution Mode, More

New HP Reverb G2 details have emerged following the headset’s reveal last week.

Members of the HP team answered questions on Reddit following the reveal of the device, which is the result of a collaboration between HP, Microsoft and Valve. We already know the Reverb G2 is 4K PC VR headset with inside-out tracking afforded by four cameras. It’s also got Valve Index-style audio, redesigned motion controllers and improved ergonomics with a six-meter cable.

New HP Reverb G2 Details Revealed

HP Reverb 2 Frontfacing

Over on Reddit, HP confirmed that not only is the cable longer than the previous generation, but it’s “single barrel and thinner” too. As we already knew, you’ll be able to detach it from the headset, but HP also confirmed that it plans to sell replacement cables. No word on when they’ll go on sale or how much they’ll cost just yet.

As for the headset itself, the company revealed that it’s planning 60Hz mode and half-resolution modes. These should help the headset run on PCs that struggle with its beefy specs. There will also be camera passthrough, which will be in black and white.

Moving on to the controllers, HP confirmed that they won’t have capacitive sensors like Oculus Touch controllers. That means no finger sensing in this iteration. The grip button is now analog, though. HP already confirmed that it will sell the controllers separately and that they’re backward compatible with older Windows Mixed Reality devices, but clarified they won’t see pre-orders and will likely ship after the G2 itself releases in Fall 2020.

Do these new HP Reverb G2 details sway you on the headset at all? Pre-orders are open in the US now and will be launching around the globe soon.

The post New HP Reverb G2 Details: Thinner Cable, Half Resolution Mode, More appeared first on UploadVR.

HP Reverb G2 Worldwide Pre-Orders To Launch In June/July

Last week’s announcement of the HP Reverb G2 headset was met with excitement from the VR community. But, while the US can already pre-order the device, HP Reverb G2 worldwide pre-orders aren’t available yet. We know when they will be, though.

During a presentation announcing the headset at the AWE 2020 event last week, the company confirmed that HP Reverb G2 worldwide pre-orders would be launching in mid-June and then continuing to roll out across July. These regions include Asia, Canada, Latin America and Europe. US pre-orders are currently available from the official website.

Later on in the session the company clarified that, although pre-orders are coming later, shipping for the device will be global. That’s currently scheduled for launch in fall 2020. We also don’t have individual pricing for different regions just yet, but we’ll let you know when we get that information.

Reverb G2 has caught the attention of VR enthusiasts thanks to an impressive spec sheet, made possible by a collaboration with Microsoft and Valve. Like the original Reverb, the G2 boasts a 4K resolution, and inside-out tracking, but also delivers four-camera tracking, Valve Index-style audio, improved ergonomics and redesigned Windows Mixed Reality controllers. Coming in at $599, the device shows a lot of promise for the enthusiast PC VR market. HP calls it a ‘no compromise’ headset, a marketing line we discussed heavily in this week’s episode of our VR Download podcast.

Will you be laying down a pre-order for the HP Reverb G2 when they launch across the globe in a few months? Let us know in the comments below!

The post HP Reverb G2 Worldwide Pre-Orders To Launch In June/July appeared first on UploadVR.

Rumor: Leaked HP Reverb G2 Images Show Four-camera Tracking, New Controllers

Images published by known Microsoft leaker ‘WalkingCat’ have revealed a new VR headset sporting the HP logo, which looks very similar to the company’s previously revelead G2 Windows VR headset teased back in March.

First announced as a collaboration between HP, Valve, and Microsoft, the new G2 is said to be a “more immersive, comfortable and compatible VR experience,” an HP spokesperson told Road to VR in late March.

At the time, we hadn’t seen more than a shrouded image of G2. If the image below can be believed though, we have a bit more information on our hands as to what the G2 may actually entail.

Much like Oculus Rift S, the supposed HP headset appears to have four camera sensors, two front-facing, and two on the sides, which would hypothetically allow for a wider controller tracking volume. This, we surmise, could mean it uses the Windows MR tracking standard, and would be the first to do so with four ‘inside-out’ sensors instead of two.

Image courtesy WalkingCat

A physical IPD slider can also be seen in the lower left-hand corner of the headset, something HP’s Reverb headset didn’t have when it finally launched in 2019.

The headset also appears to use two very Oculus Touch-like motion controllers, which are seemingly more ergonomic than the ones previously bundled with Windows MR headsets; the button placement suggests its offers input parity with Touch and HTC Vive Cosmos.

Windows MR controllers were largely maligned for poor tracking and flawed ergonomics when the first set of headsets launched in late 2017, so seeing a more refined design could be a smart step forward, should the images be believed.

Image courtesy WalkingCat

WalkingCat has a history of authentic leaks, including some of the first photos of HoloLens 2 before it was revealed. That said, the photos may also be unofficial renders that could be no more than educated guesses at what HP has up their sleeves. We don’t have independent confirmation so we’re taking this as a rumor for now.

The post Rumor: Leaked HP Reverb G2 Images Show Four-camera Tracking, New Controllers appeared first on Road to VR.

Apparent Leak: HP & Valve’s New WMR Headset With Side Cams, IPD, New Controls

Prolific Microsoft leaker WalkingCat just Tweeted what seems to be images of HP & Valve’s upcoming new WMR headset and Microsoft’s new VR controllers.

“WalkingCat” has a long history of accurate Microsoft leaks, revealing some of the company’s products and services in the past.

In late March, just after the release of Half-Life: Alyx, HP announced Reverb G2 – a “next generation” headset for SteamVR being built in collaboration with Valve and Microsoft. Not many details were given at the time other than a dark frontal image, and no further details have been officially given since.

Brightening that image showed what looked like the Valve Index’s near-off-ear speakers. WalkingCat’s image seems to show the same.

But that official image only showed the front, so the side and underside of the headset wasn’t visible.

WalkingCat’s photo shows the headset having side cameras and a knob that looks almost identical to the Valve Index’s lens separation adjuster.

In fact, the padding on the front and back of the headset also looks like Index’s. Valve is a partner on this headset, so it would seem like a good idea to reuse these high quality parts.

The apparent next gen Windows MR controllers are shown to ditch the touchpads and change to a more ergonomic design, making them look strikingly similar to Facebook’s Oculus Touch controllers.

This move would help developers because they could use their existing Oculus control scheme instead of needing a WMR-specific input approach.

Assuming this leak is real and HP prices the headset competitively, this headset could be exactly what the PC VR market needs.

Facebook offers Rift S at $400, but its build quality is low, it lacks lens separation adjustment, and the built in audio is low quality. Valve’s Index offers a wider field of view, higher refresh rate, full lens adjustment, premium audio, and controllers you can let go of- but at $1000 the kit’s appeal is price limited.

Inside Out Camera Positions

Windows MR headsets like the existing Reverb and Samsung Odyssey+ haven’t seen much market appeal, with the entire platform making up just 8.5% of SteamVR in April. A core criticism has been the use of only two tracking cameras, which limits the range of controller motion possible in games.

The headset shown in this leak could be the “middle ground” headset many PC VR gamers have been waiting for- avoiding the compromises of Rift S but staying affordably by not using SteamVR Tracking.

As with all leaks, take these images with a huge grain of salt. Even if they are real, they may not reflect the current state of the product. We’ll keep a close eye on HP, Microsoft, and Valve in the coming weeks to bring you any official information.

The post Apparent Leak: HP & Valve’s New WMR Headset With Side Cams, IPD, New Controls appeared first on UploadVR.