At the moment, the Valve Index is one of the best VR headsets you can buy. The problem is that it's also one of the most expensive, which makes HP's latest headset, the Reverb G2, intriguing. Designed with help from Valve and Microsoft, the G2 is a $599 device that may just hit the sweet spot for those looking to get into VR now that compelling games like Half-Life: Alyx are available to play.
The G2 retains the sharp 2,160 by 2,160 per eye resolution of HP's previous Reverb headset but compliments the LCDs with lenses designed by Valve. HP has also added a new IPD toggle that allows you to adjust the distance between the lenses to accommodate the gap between your pupils better. Valve likewise helped design the G2's near-field speakers -- so much so that they almost look like they were taken directly from the Index. When you put on the G2, the speakers will sit about 10mm away from your ears and deliver fully immersive spatial audio. Out of the box, the speakers support Microsoft's spatial audio platform, and a new spatial audio format developed by HP Labs.
For tracking, the G2 features four cameras that HP claims can capture more movement. More importantly, you don't need to use external sensors in conjunction with the G2 to move around in games and other VR experiences. That said, the headset doesn't offer a fully untethered experience, but you do get almost 20 feet of cable to work with.
At 1.21 pounds, the G2 is a touch heavier than its predecessor. However, HP says it features several enhancements that help make it more comfortable to wear over an extended period. To start, HP says the headset's weight is better distributed and the facemask features more cushioning. When you need a break, you can also flip the facemask up 90 degrees. Similarly, you can remove the face gaskets to clean and sanitize them. The company has also done away with the 'halo' style headband of its previous Reverb headset in favor of a more traditional one.
At $599, the Reverb G2 is the same price as the model it replaces. However, its price tag puts in between two of the better headsets you can buy at the moment, the $399 Oculus Quest and $999 Valve Index. Considering the Reverb G2 comes with some of the features that make the Index so special, it may become popular for those searching for a more value-conscious headset. You can pre-order the Reverb G2 starting today. HP expects to start shipping the device sometime in fall 2020.