Finland's Varjo is a purveyor of the very finest VR headsets, bar none. Try though HP and Valve may, those more mainstream entries come in behind the spectacular Scandi in terms of display resolution every time. The problem is that Varjo is only available to enterprise users - until now.
Today, Varjo announced the launch of its Aero headset, the company’s newest virtual reality device, which is aimed directly at sim racers, flight sim pilots and the development community. The second of three anticipated hardware reveals in as many weeks, Varjo was always the prospect that set our VR hearts a-flutter. And the specs do not disappoint...
The Aero matches Varjo's own VR-3 right at the top of the specs tables with a 115-degree field of view - beating the already impressive HP Reverb G2 by 17 degrees - with a resolution of 35 pixels per degree, which equates to 2880 x 2720 per eye. (See below for full specs.)
The lightest headset from Varjo to date features mini LED displays with aspheric variable resolution lenses, which we're told allows better correction for aberrations with fewer elements than conventional spherical optics. Mini LED technology allows LCD panels to approach the performance of OLED with lower overheads.
Having seen screen comparisons versus rival headsets, we are absolutely 100% sold!
The Aero's built-in eye-tracking powers not just interaction and analytics, but also foveated rendering that further reduces compute requirements and enables, 'A crystal clear resolution'. As a statement from Varjo says, 'The lower PC hardware requirements of Varjo Aero enable more scalable deployments and various multi-user experiences, including flight and racing simulations, enterprise training scenarios, design and creative use-cases, as well as delivering immersive experiences in showrooms, museums and virtual arcades'. Having seen screen comparisons versus rival headsets, we are absolutely 100% sold!
But speaking of sales, that performance comes at a price. $1,990 to be precise. Ouch!
And there are no bundled controllers either. Double ouch!!
AND that the Aero is SteamVR 2.0 compatible, then you'll need external base stations too! TRIPLE ouch!!!
So, $1,990 for the Aero itself, plus $280 for a pair of base stations and $259 for the Index controllers makes a total of $2,529. Plus a $1,000 PC to run it all. That makes $3,500 vs a $300 Quest 2. That may be significantly cheaper than Varjo's enterprise XR3 at $5,495 + $1,495 subscription - and while we have no doubt which is better - we also have no doubt which we can afford. At least the Finnish firm has lifted the annual software subscription fees it has levied to date of enterprise customers.
As you'll see from our exclusive interview with Varjo's founder/CTO and chief brand officer, there are significant benefits for developers looking to futureproof their product pipeline by creating and testing experiences at the highest quality that will remain current for years.
Varjo asserts that, 'The headset is available at an attainable price', but at near enough $2,000 it's not so much attainable as aspirational in our book. And yet... we so want the Aero.
Varjo Aero, the best VR headset that anyone can get.Urho Konttori
Pushing the envelope
This headset is definitely one for prosumers looking for the absolute best VR experience and will no doubt hugely benefit sim gamers. Varjo Aero marks the company's ambitions to provide, 'A photorealistic metaverse accessible for all'. Oculus might be leading the charge to the mass market with its sub $300 Quest 2, but we here at TheVirtualReport.biz are so glad that there are companies out there pushing the envelope of what's possible for consumer VR.
Urho Konttori, founder and CTO of Varjo said, “We’ve heard the demand from leading-edge VR users such as aviators, creators and racing simulation enthusiasts to bring our highest-fidelity devices to everyone, not just enterprises. As a result, we are proud to bring to market Varjo Aero, the best VR headset that anyone can get. This device, together with our Reality Cloud platform, continues our mission to make a true-to-life metaverse accessible for all.”
Asking price aside, the Aero seems to be the answer to all our VR dreams and we can't wait to bring you a full review soon.
The first customer shipments of Varjo Aero will begin by the end of 2021 and the headset can be ordered from today for $1,990.
Varjo Aero Technical Specifications
- Display: Dual Mini LED LCD; 2880 x 2720 px per eye
- Brightness: 150 NIT
- Colors: 99% sRGB, 95% DCI-P3
- Refresh rate: 90 Hz
- Optics: Custom variable aspheric lenses, 35 PPD peak fidelity
- Field of View: 115° horizontal/134° at 12 mm eye relief
- IPD: 57–73 mm, auto adjust with motor
- Audio: 3.5 mm audio jack, in-ear headphones with mic in-box
- Weight: 487g (+230g headband)
- Dimensions (mm): 200 x 170 x 300(WxHxL)
- Connectivity: Headset adapter and 5m USB-C cable
- PC connections: DisplayPort, USB-A 3.0
- Positional Tracking: SteamVR 2.0/1.0
- Eye Tracking: 200 Hz with sub-degree accuracy; 1-dot calibration for foveated rendering
- Comfort: 3-point precision fit headband, replaceable polyurethane face cushions, active cooling