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HP Reverb G2 Review

hp reverb g2 Headset review
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Overall Score
Interactiveness
Visual Immersiveness
Comfort
User Friendliness
Ease of Setup

Our Take

The G2 stands tall among other giants in the VR world. This headset offers a balance between striking visual quality, immersion, and controls. Though the headset does struggle with a 90hz refresh rate compared to higher frequencies available in competitor headsets and tracking issues with the controller, the G2 is still a great overall purchase for anyone looking into starting their journey in the VR world with the latest 2020 headset.

What We Like

  • Higher resolution
  • Great performance
  • Amazing fit and design
  • Collaborative benefits from Microsoft and Valve
  • No external sensors required

What We Don't Like

  • 90Hz refresh rate
  • Limited field of view
  • Software bugs for integration
  • Tracking may not be accurate depending on gameplay

The high increase in the gamers’ community and technology, in general, has given rise to the need to introduce the best headsets and VR systems. With a mere headset and motion tracking, you can change your environment while in the comfort of your living room. Virtual Reality is a fantastic way to travel through the gaming world.

For people who are looking into budget VR sets and don’t know much about this technology, here is a quick refresher:

VR gives you a steady and fantastic experience that seems real, as if the gamer is playing inside the virtual space with accurate tracking and gadgets. This technology makes use of motion capture technology, motion tracking, and raw computational power. VR has gained a lot of popularity for quite a few years, all thanks to incremental hardware/software updates, captivating games, and VR systems.

Modern VR systems comprise of two types: standalone and tethered – both are equally captivating to the VR community but let’s see how the G2 fares.

Getting Started

It is quite apparent that after Oculus Quest 2 and Valve Index, the VR fans were excitedly waiting for the newest VR release for the year 2020! Finally, the wait is over! The most awaited launch of the HP Reverb G2 is finally here, and boy does it deliver!

After the rocketing high increase in the gaming community, especially after the release of mega titles like Half-Life Alyx by Valve, HP decided to step up the game and introduced its newest and coolest headset in collaboration with Microsoft and Valve.

 

Unboxing HP Reverb G2

Right off the bat, we think that this collaboration was a very smart move for HP since both Microsoft and Valve have been leading the market with their VR tech. This move also shows HP’s commitment to step into the VR world with its line of products.

But does this collaboration limit the G2? After all, it is made with the help of the competition. This puts the G2 in an interesting and experimental position where it can implement the best of both worlds!

Things to consider before buying

The G2 headset is not like previous VR systems. It aims to deliver a seamless experience with its incomparably high resolution, state-of-the-art controllers, and better tracking. Retailing at 599 US Dollars, HP Reverb G2 might be the most complete (in terms of hardware) package and a total gamechanger! But the question here is, is the total package worth having at this premium price, or are there better alternatives available in the market?

Though this headset comes at a premium price still, its industry-leading lenses, highest quality resolution, and superior audio experience make it a total, well-rounded VR system in the market! But let’s dive a bit deeper and see how this system stands against the current VR landscape.

Before we go into a comprehensive review, let’s have a look at the Reverb G2 specs:

Resolution: 2,160 × 2,160 per-eye (LCD)

Refresh Rate: 60Hz/90Hz

Field of View: 114° diagonal

Optical Adjustments: Interpupillary distance (IPD)

IPD Range: 60–68mm

Connectors: USB-C, DisplayPort, Power

Tracking: Quad on-board camera, two front, and two sidetracking cameras

Controllers: Reverb G2 controllers

Audio: Off-ear headphones

Microphone: Yes

We have been reviewing this unit for quite some time, and it’s apparent that HP has indeed put out a worthy contender for VR lovers, but there are a few catches and a few winners in this headset. Let’s get into each aspect one by one:

Features & Benefits

Minimalist packaging:

Starting with the packaging, the product comes in a slightly larger box with a minimalistic yet impressive design comprising the HP logo and dark satiny impression of the headset on the top. We would like to state here that we are a fan of this design choice and color arrangement.

The box contains everything you need to plunge into the VR world without buying any additional 3rd party accessories. The box takes inspiration from the modern 2020 design cues that focus more on consumer experience than just blandly packing the product. The packaging is easy to access and open, all you need is just one tape cutter, and you are good to go.

Opening the box, you’ll notice the full VR system and its accessories, neatly kept in between the internal packaging with all the necessary accessories.

The dark-colored and state-of-the-art controllers were then paired by long-pressing the windows button, illuminating the lights on them, giving them a refined chic look. Within 5 mins, we were ready to jump into the VR environment where a brief tour of an augmented reality home environment was shown, also called “Cliff House”.

Now the real fun starts! As soon as you enter the free demo mode of Blue, you will find yourself completely immersed and gawking at the visuals!

hp reverb g2 review

Display and Resolution:

This is where the HP G2 truly shines! We were highly impressed by the visuals that the G2 put out. Perhaps the most important and fascinating feature of this set, the display, and high-quality resolution made everything much more detailed and vivid. It’s pure eye candy.

HP Reverb G2 comes with the finest quality visual precision of 2160 x 2160, making it the best in the VR consumer market without any doubts. Also, one of the reasons for it to provide a more realistic experience is due to the lack of a screen door.

The absence of a screen door results in sharpened and smoother image quality. The high-quality visuals were so impressive that the headset was able to suspend our belief in reality. Everything seemed accurate, and quite frankly, we were left astounded a few times by the detailing of every element in the frame, from colors of the environment to the detailed physique of the AI characters, everything gave a very realistic vibe, which is what HP and VR technology, in general, is aiming for.

hp reverb g2 controllers

Lenses:

Let’s talk a bit about God Rays. With advanced volumetric light scattering technology and AI, your environment will look even more photorealistic than ever! The Reverb G2 also includes very familiar Fresnels lenses, which are quite famous for producing realistic God rays from high contrast elements, thus sending out a sharpened and high-grade display that just adds to the entire VR experience.

People spend more time looking around and inspecting elements than playing the game, right? Thankfully, HP has designed this headset so that people who are just starting with the tech can get completely immersed. Seems like HP’s goal, just like every other VR company, is to sell the consumer with better visuals every year so that they can become opinion-leaders in their social circle and get more people to jump on the bandwagon as well – and it’s working!

A testament to how good this set is would be best explained by HP’s commitment to a better VR experience than competitors. While other headsets are notorious for causing motion sickness, The Reverb G2 has tackled this problem by employing unique hardware and software technologies. Also, the 114 degrees field of view and smaller lens size helps in keeping motion sickness away so that players can enjoy high-adrenaline gaming without the fear of getting sick midway through their game.

Seamless Audio Experience:

Immersive yourself with the G2’s audio interface. The HP Reverb G2 offers the same finest quality audio with its “off-ear” audio approach just like that in Valve Index. The off-ear headphones are highly comfortable and provide a seamless spatial audio experience using BMR drivers, which provide realistic “boomy bass” clear highs and super crisp dialogues. The sound design is so well done and loud that you will have to reduce the sound to a few notches, even in a loud room. From the bass to overall audio quality, everything is highly praiseworthy on the G2 as it should be since VR headsets require a convincing audio system!

Exquisite Controllers:

When we say HP Reverb G2 has improved tracking, we mean it!

The long, rounded, and chic looking controllers are to die for; we are a fan of this aesthetic design that moves away from the old boxy tech in favor of a sleeker design. Each controller is designed in such a way that it perfectly fits in the palm, thus giving a more natural control while playing. The dark-colored controller features a thumbstick, a trigger button, a window, a menu button, and two face buttons at the top.

The controller’s side consists of grip buttons to make it easy to reach without any uncomfortable hand positioning. The controller also comes with two pre-installed AA batteries. Based on our initial testing, it was seen that the battery on the controllers died after two days of use, which also includes idle time (equivalent to 7-8 hours of gaming). So, to tackle this problem, it is advisable to use strong batteries with a minimum of 1.5 volts.

If we were to wrap up all the pluses and minuses, we would say that no other controller takes the peak for virtual reality tracking. This is truly the best and is the real deal for VR fans!

hp reverb g2 Inner look

Our Analysis and Test Results

Interactiveness

The HP Reverb G2 offers Quad on-board cameras for tracking, which increases the tracking efficiency compared to previous generations. The additional two cameras on either side of the headset provide inside-out tracking. The best thing about this headset is that it comes in a complete package, so you won’t have to spend extra to get that full interactive-control of your VR environment.

This particular setup gives more control and improves interactiveness in-game, as the headset is fully optimized and is designed to track the VR movement – you will benefit a lot with this in games like Half-Life: Alyx.

Visual Immersiveness

Though the Quad cameras provide a holistic view and advanced tracking and the games look AMAZING with the high-resolution display, the disappointing thing that we came to realize was the controllers’ tracking, which didn’t seem to match the inside tracking and quickly took us out from whatever was happening. Comparing the new HP Reverb G2 to the Valve index, the Index still wins the game in this particular aspect. For the most part, it gets the job done, but in games like Rise to Glory and Half-Life Alyx, the controllers seemed to lose track, and often the cursor got stuck, resulting in a loss of immersion.

In our opinion, it is best when it’s working, but the inconsistency gives rise to problems and demands for improvement. We hope HP improves upon this using advanced AI programming or software updates for better and more reliable tracking and, in turn, visual immersion.

Comfort

Moving on towards the headset itself, we feel that the G2 is extremely comfortable and easy to adjust for a wide variety of head sizes – trust us, we checked.

The headset includes manual IPD adjustment, commonly known as the interpupillary distance, which allows you to adjust the lenses for different eye distances. Thus, leading to a perfect fit. Hp’s collaboration with Valve provides another extremely fascinating feature in the headset; it contains a face mask with increased cushion size, flex material, and magnetic detachability to give a perfect fit regardless of the face shape or size.

It also features a head strap that looks and feels a lot like a combination of Oculus Rift CV1 and the Valve Index. The spring-loaded Velcro straps on the side also help with putting on and taking off the headset with comfort.

The great news for germophobes, the headset is surrounded by anti-microbial material, which provides soft and smooth support from the head to the back of the neck while also ensuring proper hygiene and ventilation. Also, to block the light coming in, the headset features rubber nose flaps, which, to be honest, do a pretty good job, but we feel that there is still room for improvement at this end. All in all, the headset is so perfectly designed that we could play VR for hours and hours without any discomfort, which is in and of itself a great feat.

Valve’s involvement in this collaboration includes several features from the Valve Index. After a steamy Beat Saber game, it seemed quite necessary to push off the cushion for a quick wash. This was made possible with the magnetic facial interface design, which features a removable micro-fiber face cushion that allows for greater comfort and grip while making sure that your skin remains non-irritated, even after several hours of use.

User Friendliness

We found an initial flaw that we did not expect to encounter at this stage of the product. We were unable to link Windows Mixed Reality with the Steam VR, and for this purpose, we had to download the Windows Mixed Reality portal in Steam itself, adding to the inconvenience. We aren’t sure why HP didn’t optimize the software experience here, but we suspect that it may have something to do with 3rd party software access and its limitations. Anyway, the good news is that the download was quick, and within few minutes, we were all ready to play our favorite VR games, including Star Wars squadrons, Beat saber, Half-Life: Alyx, and more.

Ease of Setup

Often VR systems comprise complex startup processes, but HP has decided to take a departure from complexity this year since the company wants this product to be a commercial item that everyone can use.

The HP Reverb G2 has one of the simplest setup processes we have seen in VR systems. The set comes with a 5-meter long headset cable with a display port and USB-C cable at the other end, which aids in connecting the headset directly with the PC. The cable is of high-quality, and we doubt that it would get damaged over time even if it is stepped on repeatedly or accidentally pulled.

Apart from this, the device also comes with a C and A adapter to make it compatible in case your PC is unable to provide enough power through the USB-C port. Having tested the headset, we felt (and it goes without saying) that if you want to play the latest VR games on high settings on this headset, then you can judge the performance of this headset only if you have a performance-laden graphic card – to take full advantage of the entire package.

Thanks to the simple plug-and-play functionality, as soon as all the cables are attached with HP Reverb G2 and the PC, Windows will immediately recognize the headset, as the OS comes pre-installed with Windows Mixed Reality software. It’s as simple as 1,2, 3!

If you are a casual VR gamer or someone who just wants to dip their toes in the VR world, then we fully recommend the G2. It features all the right feature picks to make any VR experience a great one for newbies. With a 90hz refresh rate, a 114 FOV, and audio enhancements, this headset truly is a great way to enter the VR world, but you need to consider its use and value for you.

If you like high intensity and action-packed games with precision motion tracking and less video jitter, then the Index or Oculus would suit you better, but if you just want to get a taste of the VR world at a lower overall lifetime price and with a lot of winning benefits, then the G2 is your best bet!

All things considered, HP has made the right move by partnering and collaborating with Valve and Microsoft. Each company has made great strides in the VR tech world, especially if you consider what Valve has achieved over the years with the Index headset.

Conclusion

Is the G2 a good VR contender? The short answer is, yes, it is.

But there is a lot more to be considered here.

The Reverb G2 is a gamechanger for the VR community. It offers a sleeker package with all the bells and whistles you would want to get started. This VR headset undoubtedly combines the best visual quality and the best audio experience compared to any VR headset available in the market today.

The premium price of the complete package conforms with the service it is providing and would be more suited for a niche market. Of course, as with all headsets, you are limited by the computational power that you put through the device. So, if you are on a budget, then you might also want to consider getting a headset that best suits your computer hardware.

In our opinion, with the G2, you have got an excellent VR headset at the end of 2020, which is entirely in competition with Oculus Quest 2 and Valve Index, both having the best VR tracking and controllers.

If you have a budget of 600 US dollars and want a headset that offers the best visual and audio experience, then you ought to check this out. Sure, there are a few flaws that need to be overlooked (as is with all other VR headsets in the market), but the flaws of minor-tracking issues and controllers can easily make up for in other areas of this headset!

 

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