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Christmas Gift Guide

Just a reference design

Commerical VR headsets are coming

No wires needed

Take a peek into a VR world

Octopus or dragon?

Yeah, but how much is it?

Rock that volume

Navigating through a VR world

Top-down view of the headset

Octopus or dragon?

Walking blind

Qualcomm jumps into the VR headset world

Immersing yourself

Bells and whistles

This virtual-reality headset won't be available commercially, though it already looks polished. Qualcomm plans to release the reference design to its manufacturing partners in the fourth quarter.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

Qualcomm has aggressive ambitions for the commercial release of headsets based on this design. Hugo Swart, Qualcomm's head of home entertainment, said he expects products to come out early next year.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

One of the key benefits of the reference design is that it requires no wires. The power supply and processor are all built into the headset.

The headset also has two front-facing cameras and two cameras that look inward. They can be used to sense your motion, letting you move around and duck for a more immersive experience.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

The display is made by Samsung, while the headset itself is built by Goertek, which specializes in building heads-up displays.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

The displays are AMOLED panels supporting 1,440x1,440-pixel resolution per eye at 70 hertz.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

There isn't a set price on this reference device, though a product manager said it would cost around $600 for its partners. Commercial devices could range between $500 and $600. That's a lot better than the Vive or Oculus, which require expensive PCs too.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

On the left side of the headset is a volume rocker.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

On the right side is the navigation control.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

The top of the headset features a home button on the side and a back button in the middle.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

Qualcomm showed off two demos. The first was of a digital octopus you can walk around and under. The second had a dragon scampering around you and breathing fire.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

As a testament to its rough stage, the unit had no method of detecting whether you were about to hit something. Qualcomm said one of the front-facing cameras could be used as a pass-through lens, letting you see what's in front.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

Qualcomm's Snapdragono VR820 reference platform. Rolls off the tongue, right? The headset is designed to give other companies a jumping off point for their VR headsets.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

The freedom of movement is similar to that of the much-higher-end HTC Vive. The graphics on the Qualcomm unit aren't as smooth or crisp, but it's also much cheaper and requires no cables.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET

A list of the specs and features on the reference design.

Caption by / Photo by Roger Cheng/CNET
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