With the debut of its Windows-based Mixed Reality Headset (WMR) in 2017, HP announced its arrival on the fast-growing VR hardware landscape. Along with its powerful and wearable HP Z-series backpack, the company demonstrated its intention to become a major player in both the consumer and enterprise markets. Now, a scant two years later, HP has once more raised the stakes in the rapidly expanding field by unveiling its newest and most impressive VR hardware offering to date, Reverb, which the company confidently calls “the new benchmark in Commercial VR”.
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Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say right up front that PIXO VR is an HP software ally for Virtual Reality Training. But with that said, as one of the few who have actually tried the Reverb, (back when it went by its code name, “Copper”), I can tell you: the ‘benchmark’ claim isn’t just marketing swagger — the unit backs up its boast with crystal-clear visual fidelity owing to a significant boost in LCD resolution and comfort. (I should also add, we’re writing this entirely of our own free will. No one has asked us to write astroturfed reviews of Reverb, we’re just excited to use it more and take it for lengthier spins. More on that in just a moment.)
With 2160-by-2160 pixels per eye — a substantial improvement over the 2160-by-1200 pixel count of the HTC Vive Pro, Samsung Odyssey HMD, and Acer’s Mixed Reality HMD — Reverb is much clearer and crisper than anything we’ve experienced before. Our AAA-game quality, photo-realistic, VR Training experiences are designed to be run on premium hardware with optimal resolution. Reverb delivers on that front.
Importantly, as John Ludwig, HP’s product manager for VR states in the interview portion of this in-depth product review by Adam Savage’s Tested, the new headset has been built from the ground-up by HP itself. (Check out a cameo by PIXO VR’s OSHA Warehouse Safety Sweep VR Training experience at about 02:30 in!)
As mentioned above, another big design win is in the comfort department. At just 1.1 pounds, Reverb is appreciable lighter than HP’s earlier WMR headset, (which weighed-in at 1.8 pounds), and offers a more flexible and snug-fitting velcro headband, rather than the rotating plastic dial previously used to tighten and loosen the headset, which would then have an unfortunate tendency to shift a little more during use, which could affect visual clarity within the set.
A lot of the reason for these innovations gets back to that idea of users taking the new headset for lengthier spins. As Ludwig said in a recent Wired interview, users of the WMR headset often got in and out of the unit in something of a hurry, maybe 20 or 30 minute increments, that HP calls “snacking”. With improved clarity and comfort, there’s little doubt the goal is to encourage longer sessions during which users can both explore and accomplish more.
We’re certainly all for it.