HP Reverb headset review: Windows Mixed Reality meets higher resolutionJuly 12, 2019
MIcrosoft’s Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) hasn’t garnered a lot of headlines in 2019 after laying a solid foundation, but Microsoft and its partners are trudging ahead. HP’s new Reverb headset had a rocky launch and a slow rollout, limited availability, and reports of some early hardware issues, but that doesn’t mean it’s also not one of the best head-mounted displays (HMD) yet.
I spent the last few weeks playing with the HP Reverb, and while it’s mostly geared for professional environments, regular consumers and virtual reality (VR) users will find a lot to like, too.
HP Reverb (2019)
Bottom line: HP’s Reverb headset for Windows Mixed Reality offers the highest resolution of any other headset yet along with a 90Hz refresh rate. When combined with the premium design and outstanding comfort, it is easy to see why it’s one of our favorite HMDs for VR. However, a soft launch with limited-availability has made getting one somewhat hard, and the high price may not be prohibitive for some.
- Highest resolution of any WMR HMD.
- Built-in headphones, mic, Bluetooth.
- Premium build quality.
- Hard to find.
- Higher cost.
- Doesn’t flip up.
Where HP Reverb improves Windows Mixed Reality
For the first generation of WMR headsets, Microsoft set the stage with a reference design for the hardware. That means almost all the original headsets from Dell, Acer, HP, and Lenovo were all the same except for a few aesthetic choices. The one company to buck that trend (to the chagrin of everyone else) was Samsung, who had AMOLED lenses and slightly better specs.
Best Windows Mixed Reality Headsets of 2019
The Reverb though is a ground-up refresh of HP’s original headset; it’s completely new in design and features, pushing the resolution much further than anyone else. That drives the cost up to $599 (with controllers), but that price is still well below the Valve Index, which runs north of $1,000 for the entire kit.
The Reverb has a resolution of 2160 x 2160 per eye for a combined resolution of 4320 x 2160 and a 90Hz refresh. Samsung’s Odyssey+ has a lower 1,440 x 1,600 pixels per side also with a 90Hz, and almost all other HMDs run 1,440 x 1,440 per eye often with just a 60Hz refresh. Just like a PC, the display resolution matters for clarity — especially when those screens are an inch from your eyeball.
The other significant change for HP is comfort. While the original HP WMR HMD was just OK, leaning towards better value than features, the Reverb takes some cues from the Microsoft HoloLens 2, with more attention paid to coziness. The new strap system is more reminiscent of the HTC Vive, with straps at the back and across your head for more stability, balance, and pressure relief. HP also shaved off a few hundred grams (now 500 grams versus 834 grams). While the Reverb is not the lightest (see Acer’s first edition at 350 grams), it’s still a significant shift.
If you are into VR and WMR, the HP Reverb is an…