HP REVERB G2: Is HP going to Disrupt the VR Hardware Market

August 13 2020

hardwarevirtual reality

Every XR developer goes on the journey to find the best VR headset suitable to her/his needs. A few months ago we were trying to find out which one is the best VR headset on the market.

And here’s what we found: there wasn’t a clear winner.

Every headset from every vendor had something great about it.

Oculus with its headsets provides amazing casual experience and quality for the buck. HTC headsets are popular for their image quality and color balance.

And for any business-related VR application the clear winner is Valve Index with its unparalleled tracking and accuracy. Naturally, there are also mega high-end hitters like Varjo or Pimax which we will be writing about soon since the prices are unaccessible to most individuals and smaller companies.

It seems like HP didn’t like the current landscape in the slightest. There was a gap in the market. Something that could be nudged between Oculus Quest and Valve Index perhaps?

They decided to release a light-weight headset PC VR headset and tried to include as many great features from every leading vendor as they could.

They priced the new headset at $599 and called it HP Reverb G2.

In some places they exceeded all our expectations. In others - not so much.

In this guide we’ll share everything we learned about the new headset.

Display and Picture Quality

To put simply, HP Reverb G2 knocks it out of the park with its astonishing and borderline photorealistic quality of picture.

And there are several reasons for it.

For starters, the new HP headset sports two full RGB stripe 2160 * 2160 p LCD panels and 90 Hz frame rate. This resolution is currently one of the highest on the market, surpassing both Vive Cosmos (1700 * 1440 p) and Valve Index (1600 * 1440 p).

The colors are intense and vibrant, which makes you think that the headset is actually using an OLED display.

Unlike its predecessor, HP Reverb G2 is mura-free which means you’ll be able to see the edges of your screen as clearly as the center. The same goes for displaying text — the letters in VR look incredibly sharp even when you read from a far.

The new HP headset uses a completely revamped pair of Fresnel lenses that are a huge step-up from the ones the original Reverb headset, the G1, used. The new lenses were designed by Valve, and even though Valve Index had a slight problem with glares, there’s no such thing with G2.

G2’s field of view is 114 degrees, which is bigger than that of Oculus headsets and slightly smaller than what you have with Valve Index.

Note: With the latest model HP also added manual IPD adjustment control, so HP Reverb G2 owners can easily adjust between lenses for different eye distances.

Sound Quality

HP Reverb G2 provides users with great spatial audio sound of the highest-quality because it uses the same speakers as Valve Index does. And Valve's audio system is currently rated as one the best on the market.

The removable headphones float over your ears by 10 mm and can be adjusted for custom fit. The only thing to mention is that the brace works a bit differently compared to Valve’s mechanism and the adjustment levels are a bit more limited.

Source: vrfocus.com

The current demo headsets don’t feature 3.5 mm audio jack, so you won’t be able to use your own headphones with it. Given the high out-of-box quality of speakers you probably won’t need to.

As for the microphone, the new Reverb uses the one that is different from Valve Index, but the quality is great for the money.

Performance and Minimum Requirements

Surprisingly, system requirements for the HP Reverb G2 are similar to the original HP Reverb headset even though there’s a dramatic difference in visual quality between the two headsets.

Here are minimum hardware requirements for PC to work with HP Reverb G2:

Graphics card:
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 and above
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER and above
GeForce RTX 2080 and above
AMD Radeon RX 5700 and above

Processor: Intel Core i5, i7, Intel Xeon E3-1240 v5, equivalent or better. AMD Ryzen 5 equivalent and above
Memory: 8 GB RAM or more
Ports: DisplayPort 1.3, 1x USB 3.0 Type C
Operating system: Windows 10 May 2019 update or later

You can learn more about VR hardware requirements and whether your PC can run different VR applications with our VR requirements guide.

Controllers and Tracking

HP Reverb G2 features a pair of motion controllers with a design and ergonomics very similar to that of Oculus Touch controllers. To achieve that HP took original Windows Reality controllers and redesigned them from the scratch, removing unnecessary complexity and flawed ergonomic design.

The Reverb G2 controllers have two front buttons, two menu buttons, a thumb stick, a trigger and a grip button. Both trigger and a grip button are analogue which means they feel like and press like original Oculus Touch controllers that many users praised for years.

reverb controllers from HP

Source: hp.com

Compared to Oculus touch, G2 controllers are a bit bigger, which is an overall improvement, especially for users that struggled with Oculus controls for being too small.

Unlike with the rechargeable Valve Index controllers, with HP Reverb G2 you’ll need two AA batteries to keep the device running.

Note: G2 controllers also do not support finger tracking so you'll have to use the Valve Index controller if that’s something you need.

HP Reverb G2 Tracking

HP Reverb G2 sports a 6 degrees of freedom inside tracking system with four cameras placed in front and at both sides of the headset. With the inside tracking you don’t need to install any external sensor strations to track your movements, unlike with Valve and HTC Vive headsets.

The G2 tracking system is based on that of Windows Mixed Reality headsets but provides greater accuracy due to the doubled amount of cameras.

The inside tracking works just fine: there are no tracking issues when controllers collide or take to the extreme positions on edges.

Compared to Oculus Quest and Rift S inside tracking systems, G2’s is a bit inferior. Due to the placement of cameras G2 can lose track of controllers at the extreme top and bottom positions, whereas both Quest and Rift S don’t have such issues.

The Valve Index Lighthouse tracking system is still the most advanced on the market. Because of the sensor stations placed around your room the Lighthouse system can track any movement you make in VR whether you use controllers at extreme angles or behind you.

How HP Reverb G2 Compares With Other Headsets

HP Reverb G2 vs Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive?

The new Reverb G2 leaves far behind all Oculus and HTC headsets in terms of visual quality.

It’s also superior in terms of audio with HTC Vive Pro coming in close second.

As for the tracking, this is where it gets tricky. Both HP Reverb G2 and Oculus Rift use an inside tracking system whereas HTC Vive requires a complex and costly setup with external base stations to track your movements in VR.

Overall G2’s tracking system is on par with the accurate tracking that Oculus provides for its headsets except that Oculus headsets can cover more extreme positions at the top and bottom due to the additional tracking cameras.

If we take into account the current price for G2 at $599, the new HP headset beats all HTC and Oculus models given how much you get for the money — at least trough performance perspective.

You can learn more about how HTC and Oculus flagship headsets compare to each other in our in-depth guide on Which Headset Is Better For Business and Personal Use.

HP Reverb G2 vs Valve Index

As with the other headsets, HP Reverb G2 outshines Valve Index with its stunning picture quality due to the increased display resolution.

That said, Valve Index steal beats HP’s newest in the audio, controls, and tracking departments.

Both headsets are using the same high-quality speakers yet Valve Index boasts a better adjustment mechanism, 3.5 mm audio port, and superior microphone.

Valve Index Circuit Stream

Valve’s Lighthouse tracking system is currently the most advanced tracking system on the market. If you’re dealing with VR applications that require extreme degrees of precision, such as complex business and training applications, Valve Index should be your main option.

Should I buy the HP Reverb virtual reality headset?

The short question to your answer is: YES.

But it depends.

Currently HP Reverb G2 looks like one of the best VR headsets for the money if you’re in the consumer-facing market.

If you are a vivid VR player with a solid PC setup, G2 will provide you with the best in-game VR experience to date with its amazing visual and audio experience.

If you, however, are developing a business VR application, you’ll probably better choose a headset with more advanced tracking capabilities and finger tracking, such as Valve Index.

The HP Reverb G2 headset is set out for release in the Fall of 2020, but you can pre-order it already with the HP official website, Steam, and few selected partners.

Interested to start developing for HP Reverb G2 headsets and other AR/VR devices? Attend our free live workshops.


Dejan Gajsek

Head of Marketing

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