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HP's new gaming VR headset, Reverb G2, is made with Valve and Microsoft

Arriving in the fall for $599, it aims to bridge Windows 10 and SteamVR better.

The HP Reverb G2 aims to be the best PC gaming VR headset. We'll see.

If you're looking to dive into VR, there are a few basic choices: pick a standalone experience like the Oculus Quest headset, go with a game console like the PlayStation VR or go with the most flexible experience by hooking into a PC. HP's newest VR headset, designed with both Valve and Microsoft, aims to be the best VR gaming option this year. Called the Reverb G2, it was teased back in March, but the full details are now available.

There are plenty of PC-connected VR headsets to choose from, and several different VR platforms that run on PCs: Oculus, SteamVR and Microsoft's Windows Mixed Reality. Most PC VR headsets work on SteamVR (and let you play Half-Life: Alyx) well enough, but the Reverb G2 promises to work better with both SteamVR and Windows. The $599 headset isn't coming until this fall, though, so it'll be a bit of a wait to find out how good it is.

The Reverb G2 is a revamp of HP's previous business-focused Reverb headset, which had a higher-resolution display and wider field of view than most competitors out there. I tried the original Reverb, but haven't tested the Reverb G2 yet.

HP says the Valve collaboration involved refining audio and visual tech on the hardware. The excellent floating Valve Index headphones, which boom spatial audio but don't sit directly on-ear, are on the Reverb G2 also. There isn't a headphone jack for adding your own headset, however (something the original Reverb had). New lenses designed with Valve, and a brighter LCD display, promise improved wider-angle visuals with less distortion and can be manually adjusted to different pupil distances. 


The Reverb G2 has four cameras (two front, two on the sides), and off-ear Valve-designed spatial audio headphones.


The LCD displays, at 2,160x2,160 pixels per eye, are higher-res than the Valve Index's 1,440x1,600 per eye by a considerable degree, and the 114-degree field of view is bigger, too. But the displays refresh at a maximum of 90Hz, while the Index can refresh at up to 120 or even 144Hz for smoother playback.

The Reverb G2 isn't compatible with SteamVR's "lighthouse" sensors, either, which are external light-emitting boxes that allow the Valve Index and HTC Vive to track location. Instead, it has built-in camera-based headset tracking, like a lot of other VR headsets, including the Oculus Rift S, HTC Vive Cosmos and all the Microsoft VR headsets made by third-party partners like Acer and Samsung. (The Vive Cosmos also has an optional faceplate that connects to SteamVR's lighthouse base station tech, though.) The Reverb G2 has four on-headset tracking cameras: two on the front, one on each side.


Headphone close-up.


As for controllers, the HP Reverb G2 has its own unique set that aren't the same as the Valve Index or Vive Cosmos: They're more like evolved versions of Microsoft's VR controllers with analog sticks and physical buttons but designed to be more comfortable for gaming, according to HP.

It'll be hard to get an impression of how good this headset is until it's available, but on paper the Reverb G2 sounds like a quality option. With so many PC VR headsets already available, however, it may be a challenge for the Reverb G2 to stand out.