Reverb G2 was developed in collaboration with both Microsoft and Valve. It is one of the most exciting Windows Mixed Reality headset to date and it packs some really nice features. Giving you all the information, you need to know about this new headset, including a bit of background on the Windows Mixed Reality platform, the specs of the Reverb G2 including the resolution, field of view, refresh rate, audio, controllers, price, release date and much more. I hope you find this information useful, let’s dive in.
HP Reverb G2 & Windows Mixed Reality
So let’s start with the basics, the HP Reverb G2 is a PC based Windows Mixed Reality headset and the first HP headset made in collaboration with both Microsoft and Valve.
The Windows Mixed Reality platform initially launched back in October 2017 with a handful of headsets from various manufacturers. It stood out as a platform which offered an accessible headset to newcomers with its easy setup and inside out tracking. Although this is the second generation Reverb hence being called the G2, this is actually the third headset from HP in the Windows Mixed Reality range. Unlike the previous HP Reverb model, which was aimed at business and enterprise applications, the Reverb G2 is primarily aimed at the gaming market.
Still, many of this headset features will also appeal to the business sector as this headset will completely replace the original Reverb in the HP lineup.
Resolution & Optics
Let’s talk about the resolution and the optics. Just like the previous Reverb, the G2 has 2x 2160×2160 pixel per eye LCD panels which run at 90hz with 114-degree field of view. When we compare the Reverb G2 to other headsets available on the market, you can see the Reverb G2 has the highest resolution in a consumer aimed product to date, i.e. 2020, which is going to make it great for seeing fine detail in games such as text and in-game displays, perfect for gamers who want the very best visual experience in VR.
The new G2 will be using new LCD panels and not the same ones used in its predecessor. HP claim these new panels are brighter, provide better clarity, contrast and have reduced moiré effect.
The new LCD panels use a full RGB stripe subpixel arrangement which means each pixel gets its own blue, green and red subpixels. This means you’re likely to get a very sharp image making text and other fine details much clearer with less screen door effect although it is worth noting that OLED panels tend to perform better in darker scenes.
The G2 will also use new fresnel lenses designed by Valve; however, these aren’t the same size or stacked and canted lens design used in the Index. With the new LCD panel and lenses combined HP claim to have completely eliminated any screen door effect which is a bold claim indeed.
All this resolution is excellent but don’t forget about the hardware you’ll need to run it. The minimum required specs are the same as the previous Rebverb which suggests you’ll need an Nvidia GTX 1080 with an i7 processor but really to get the most out of it, you’re going to want to be pushing an RTX2080 or RTX2080ti.
The final thing to talk about while on the subject of optics is that the Reverb G2 will have a manual IPD adjustment slider. IPD is your interpupillary distance, the distance between your eyes and this headset will accommodate an IPD range between 60-68mm which is welcome over the original Reverb’s software IPD adjustment.
HP Reverb G2 Audio
Now, let us move onto audio as this is another exciting feature on this new headset as the audio also comes from the Valve part of this collaboration. The Reverb G2 will use precisely the same fantastic audio system used on the Valve Index. These off ear headphones sound phenomenal using BMR drivers, and they sit off your ear, which provides an incredibly comfortable spatial audio experience which is perfect for gaming. You can remove these earphones from the head strap if you wish, but you don’t have a 3.5mm audio jack on this headset to plug in your own headphones in so you would have to use a pair of Bluetooth headphones instead but honestly, I doubt many people will want to do that. The Reverb G2 also features dual microphones for communication in games and using the voice-controlled Microsoft assistant, Cortana, but these aren’t the same microphones used in the Index.
Ergonomics & Headstrap Design
The new HP Reverb G2 comes in at around 500 grams in weight which is around the same as the Oculus Rift S and lighter than the Valve index, which comes in at about 800 grams.
The head strap has adjustable Velcro straps on the sides, it stretches, making it easy to get on and off and with the section that nicely cups your head at the back. The headset also uses interchangeable face pads using a magnetic mounting system just like Index. The headset design also allows the head strap to rotate up to 90 degrees meaning you can use the headset without putting the head strap on by just holding it up to your face.
Also good news for those who wear glasses in VR, HP have made the design more friendly for those who wear glasses although it doesn’t have the eye relief adjustment of the Valve Index. We recommend you to invest in a set of prescription lenses which will be available from both WidmoVR and VRLensLab.
The Reverb G2 will come bundled with a 6m single barrel cable which is removable from the headset and uses a single DisplayPort and single USB C connector for power from your PC. If you don’t have a USB C port or one that can provide 6 watts of power, a power brick is also provided in the box. A DisplayPort to DisplayPort mini adapter will also be included in the box if you want to use the headset with a powerful gaming laptop.
This is a massive improvement over the original Reverb, which had double-barrel cable and a connection box at the back of your head, so this should make the G2 much more comfortable. The Reverb G2 doesn’t utilize the virtual link connector equipped on newer Nvidia graphics cards. However, you’ll likely be able to use that port for power delivery. There will be a shorter 1m cable accessory available along with replaceable wipeable face pads.
Inside Out Tracking
The HP Reverb G2 is the first Windows Mixed Reality headset to have four inside out tracking cameras, previously all the Windows MR range only had two front-facing cameras for tracking, which sometimes caused issues when moving. Reverb G2 features tracking cameras on both sides of the headset to provide a much wider tracking volume which HP claims is 2x higher than the previous Reverb. The Reverb G2 is trumped by the 5 tracking cameras on the Rift S and 6 tracking cameras on the Vive Cosmos. However, more cameras don’t always mean better. It will only support the inside out tracking system built into the headset. It’s also been confirmed by HP that this inside out tracking system won’t support hand tracking. However, Windows Mixed Reality headsets do have a passthrough mode called flashlight that allows you to quickly see what’s going on around you if you need to.
As this headset doesn’t support Steam VR tracking, it sadly won’t be able to use the Valve Index controllers. Reverb G2 will use newly designed Mixed Reality controllers. These controllers will come paired with the headset using Bluetooth. The controllers have a new ergonomic design and have now ditched the trackpad found on the previous controllers and just retained the thumbsticks. It now has A B X Y buttons along with a select and Windows button on the face, which put them more in line with what both Oculus and Valve are offering, which is great to see.
The new controllers also feature an Analog Grip, which is a nice upgrade over the previous grip button, which was just a click input on the previous Windows MR controllers. This upgrade provides a more precise input when you grip items in games. These new controllers are also backward compatible with other Windows MR headsets. Each controller still requires 2 AA batteries each and uses light tracking, which was one of the weak points of the Windows Mixed Reality system as the controllers tend to burn through batteries quite quickly. Although the controller design has slightly changed, the fundamentals are still the same, and battery life will be similar to the previous Windows Mixed Reality controllers, which is between 4-8 hours of use before they need replacing.
Oculus & Steam Games on Reverb G2
As this headset was designed in collaboration with Valve, they’ve ensured this headset is fully compatible with the great library of content available on SteamVR. By default, you’ll still be booted into Microsofts Cliff House on startup like every other Windows MR Headset. Now the controllers are more in line with what the other leading brands are offering. That is more compatibility and no more remapping of controller buttons to trackpads. That means these controllers will perform better when playing Oculus exclusive content using Revive.
Ok, so there we have it, that’s the HP Reverb G2. The one thing that is a bit concerning with this headset is the controllers. The new design is likable, but I’m worried about battery life. AA batteries discharge very quickly, so It is worth investing in some decent rechargeables if you’re interested in this headset. Hopefully, this headset from HP is just the beginning of a new generation of headsets from third-party manufacturers. I wish Microsoft would use some of the fantastic games they own to add some leverage to the platform. Imagine an official Halo, Forza or Gears Of War game in Virtual Reality, that would be amazing and a great way to sell some headsets.