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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
One of the best displays in a VR headset
Great for flight sims
Amazing speaker sound quality and noise isolation
Good motion tracking
Controllers don't measure up to the competition
Speakers are delicate
Cable clip has a tendency to fall off
The HP Reverb G2 features a truly impressive high-resolution display with great spatial audio speakers and an overall package that makes it a highly competitive VR headset.
We purchased the HP Reverb G2 so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for the full product review.
In the highly competitive landscape of virtual reality, it’s vital for newcomers to the battle of the VR headsets to stand out from the crowd, and the HP Reverb G2 does that by pumping up the resolution. It’s exciting to see a new and compelling option for virtual reality enthusiasts, and the Reverb G2 brings very real competition to the likes of Oculus and Valve.
The HP Reverb G2 certainly has the overall build quality of a high-end VR headset. It’s solidly built with a detachable face padding insert that is held in with strong magnets. The headband is similarly robust, and the headset is easy to take on and off. My only major complaint with its design is the cable clip that secures to the back of the headband. This has a tendency to fall off and is fiddly to reattach.
The Reverb G2 comes with soft, cloth bags to store the headset and its two controllers. It connects to your PC via USB 3.2 type A and DisplayPort. It also comes with adapters for USB type-C and mini-DisplayPort. However, if you want to use it with a laptop with DisplayPort via USB-C as I did, you’ll need to purchase a separate adapter.
Getting the Reverb G2 up and running was something of a headache, largely due to the lack of detailed instructions included with the headset. You’ll definitely want to look up more detailed instructions online. Getting all the cables connected properly is a bit tricky, and your experience with the installation process may vary based on your hardware.
The headset is installed through Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) software, the base of which is already likely to be installed on your Windows 10 PC. The software automatically checks your PC’s compatibility and sets up the headset for you. This should be streamlined but can be quite frustrating since connection issues are difficult to pinpoint due to oblique error codes thrown up by WMR. After everything is hooked up properly, WMR will proceed with a download that, for me, took some time on my rather slow DSL connection.
Once this was done, I just needed to download and install a few pieces of VR software in Steam, and I was up and running. Subsequent startup sequences went smoothly and quickly, with only a brief calibration sequence for the headset to get its bearings.
Setting up room-scale VR was pretty straightforward. You just begin the room scale setup on your PC, point the headset at the screen, and trace your play area. Once this is done, the headset will remember your room, so you don’t have to repeat this process.
The most impressive part of the HP Reverb G2, and perhaps the key selling point of the headset is its display. Its two 2160x2160 LCD screens show an impressive amount of detail with great color and clarity, which really enhances the experience.
If your number one priority in a VR headset is sheer image quality, then it's hard to beat the Reverb G2.
Their 90hz refresh rate also helps counteract any motion sickness and add to the sense of immersion. If your number one priority in a VR headset is sheer image quality, then it's hard to beat the Reverb G2.
Weight aside, the Reverb G2 was quite comfortable. It’s well padded and easy to adjust to fit, though my extra-large head with its similarly large volume of hair required me to extend the headband to its maximum setting for a comfortable fit.
The headset is spacious enough for prescription glasses to fit inside, making this a good option for the visually impaired. It’s a bit heavy, but no more so than other headsets.
The speakers built into the Reverb G2 provide seriously impressive spatial audio that shocked me with its clarity and detail. This thing puts many headphones and speaker setups to shame with crisp, punchy sound that frequently fooled me into believing ambient noises were emanating from the physical room I was in rather than from the virtual world. In Star Wars: Squadrons, I was able to identify the position of enemies around me by the sound of their engines and laser fire.
I was surprised by how mild this sound bleed actually is and also by the fact that there is some degree of noise isolation while you’re wearing the headset. Of course, if you’d rather listen through a pair of separate headphones, the speakers are removable.
In Star Wars: Squadrons I was able to identify the position of enemies around me by the sound of their engines and laser fire.
Another issue I ran into after a few weeks with the Reverb G2 was that the speakers started to loosen in their mounting brackets. This led to the audio occasionally cutting out and crackling with static.
To fix this, you need to readjust the speakers in their sockets (called “Pogo Pins”). You need to unscrew the speakers, which is where I ran into a problem—one of the screws refused to move, and I ended up having to send the headset in for repair.
Fortunately, HP support was very helpful and immediately sent me a return shipping box. This means that if you do run into this or any other issue with the headset, you can count on HP to take care of it within the 1-year warranty.
HP has improved upon their first-generation VR controllers, but they still leave a lot to be desired compared to the competition. They are ergonomic and functional but feel a bit insubstantial, and the buttons and analog stick are surprisingly cheap feeling.
HP has improved upon their first-generation VR controllers, but they still leave a lot to be desired compared to the competition.
There is also no finger tracking like you’d find in Valve’s Index controllers. Don’t get me wrong though, they are very functional and provide good motion tracking, and I very much enjoyed using them; it’s only by comparison to the competition that they seem a bit sub-par.
As mentioned, the headset is highly competent at tracking the location and movement of the controllers, but I also found that, in general, the Reverb G2 is remarkably good at keeping track of its environment.
Through its camera array it was easily able to keep track of the play space I set up for room-scale VR, as well as the movement of my head. I was easily able to play Superhot VR and Valves VR Lab, which both rely on precise motion tracking.
The Reverb G2 is remarkably good at keeping track of its environment.
With an MSRP of $600, the Reverb G2 isn’t cheap, but it offers a high level of visual quality that rivals or possibly exceeds even more expensive options. This means that if screen quality is paramount, then you might consider this to be a good value for money. However, there are very comparable headsets available at much lower price points, so value here will be highly subjective based on what you’re looking for in a VR headset.
It’s impossible to talk about a $600 headset without comparing it to the Valve Index which carries a hefty price tag of $1,000 for a complete setup. The HP Reverb G2 is certainly a more affordable option, and its higher resolution screens arguably provide greater visual clarity than the Index, but if you put cost aside, then you just can’t beat the Index’s controllers with their incredible finger tracking system.
If you really want the visual clarity of the Reverb G2 (albeit with a lower refresh rate and more restricted field of view than the Index), you could buy it and the controllers and motion tracking system for the Index. However, the total cost for such a setup would exceed the cost of the Valve Index bundle.
A compelling mid-range VR option with a stunning high-resolution display.
Though it’s hardly cheap, the HP Reverb G2 offers a compelling, more affordable alternative to the Valve Index and a step-up from entry-level VR headsets such as those from Oculus. Though its controllers aren’t the best, and its excellent spatial speakers are a little finicky, the overall quality and fantastic high-resolution display easily make up for its few flaws.
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