Varjo Aero Review – A VR Simmer’s Dream – Road to VR

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Varjo today announced Aero; although this is the company’s most affordable headset to date, its $ 2,000 price tag still limits it to businesses and wealthy hobbyists. But with amazing clarity, this will certainly be a dream headset for VR simmers who aren’t afraid to trade cash for an immersion.

Varjo Aero is a stripped-down version of the company’s high-end corporate headsets, notably without the “bionic screen” which gave the helmet a retina resolution in the center of the field of view. Even without the new bionic display, Aero still delivers amazing clarity (allegedly being 35 PPD) that is only beaten by the company’s more expensive headsets. You can read Aero’s announcement and release date here; let’s start with the full specs below:

Varjo Aero Specifications

Resolution 2880 x 2720 (7.8 MP) per eye, mini LCD LED display (2x)
Refresh rate 90 Hz
Lentils aspherical
Field of view (claimed) 134 ° diagonally, 115 ° horizontally (at 12mm eye relief)
Optical adjustments IPD (automatic motor)
IPD setting range 57–73 mm
Connectors USB-C → breakout box (USB-A 3.0, DisplayPort 1.4)
Cable length 5m
Regular SteamVR 1.0 or 2.0 Tracking (External Tags)
Embedded cameras 2x eye-tracking
Grab None included (supports SteamVR controllers)
audio 3.5mm auxiliary port
Microphone None (supports external mic through auxiliary port)
Passage view No
Weight 487g + 230g headband with counterweight

Varjo Aero Reviews

Before we dive too deep, let’s take a look at where the Varjo Aero fits in the landscape of similar helmets from a price point of view:

Varjo Aero Vive Pro 2 G2 reverb Valve index
Headset only $ 2,000 $ 800 $ 500
Complete kit $ 2,580 $ 1,400 $ 600 $ 1,000
* includes MSRP for Index controllers and 2 SteamVR Tracking base stations

To this day, Varjo helmets are best known for their “bionic display” system, which actually uses two screens per eye, a large screen to cover a wide field of view, and a smaller recessed screen with pixel density. high resolution that delivers true retina resolution (60+ PPD) at the center of the helmet’s field of view.

Varjo Aero does away with the smaller screen and loses its true retina resolution, but even with its large display it still maintains a whopping 35 PPD and top-notch clarity compared to any non-Varjo headset on the market.

Clarity

Photo from Road to VR

Not too long ago, we saw the release of Vive Pro 2 and Reverb G2, with resolutions of 2,448 x 2,448 (6 MP) and 2,160 × 2,160 (4.7 MP), which have both quite impressive clarity.

And although Varjo Aero’s 2880 x 2720 (7.8 MP) resolution doesn’t seem that much more, it enjoys extra clarity thanks to its aspherical lenses which eliminate almost all of the glare and divine rays that are prevalent in other helmets.

With the right content, looking through the lenses of Varjo Aero feels like looking at the world with fresh eyes. A few minutes after putting on the helmet, I saw details in Half-life: Alyx that I couldn’t even see on previous generation helmets, like the textured tip of a screwdriver.

Captured by Road to VR

The clarity of the Aero is so crisp that it easily reveals content that isn’t up to par; for the first time in Allyx I immediately noticed that the chain link fences in the game are actually completely flat, thanks in large part to the increased resolving power of the headset which improves stereoscopy (or the lack of it).

It also impacts presence – that feeling when your eyes are tricked into believing that what is in front of you is. Actually the. During the game Alyx with Aero there were several rooms that I walked into where I just had to stop and look… when the lighting was on. just right, I had the impression was actually standing there in that place. It’s an incredibly powerful feel that goes beyond simple immersion, and Aero seems to elicit it more easily than any headset I’ve tried before.

Beyond virtually eliminating ghosting and glare, Aero’s lenses also create an incredibly large sweet-spot, meaning most of the image stays in focus even when you take your eyes out of the way. of the Center. This is an absolute relief from most other Fresnel helmets which have narrow ideal areas that blur things out even if you move your eyes a bit.

Being able to read labels, gauges and dials without zooming or centering your field of view is a boon for flight simulators | Captured by Road to VR

While Aero has incredible clarity, its image is not without flaws; there are two things that keep it from looking like an almost perfect picture. The first is chromatic aberration (color separation), which immediately struck me, even before explicitly analyzing the image quality of the headphones.

This is surprising because chromatic aberration is rarely an issue on other VR headsets as it is easily corrected in software. Varjo either does a poor job with its chromatic aberration correction, or there’s something about the lenses that makes it a bigger challenge than with other helmets. Hopefully the first one, which would mean it could potentially be resolved with a future software update.

The other problem with the Aero image is distortion at the extreme edges of the field of view. It’s subtle enough that if you don’t move your head you won’t notice it, but as soon as you start moving you will notice it due to peripheral vision sensitivity to “movement”. Other headsets also correct for distortion in software, and with Aero most of the picture is distortion-free; Since it’s only on the edges, I have less hope that this can be fixed with a software update.

The distortion doesn’t feel like a snap, but it’s a shame it detracts from what would otherwise be an almost blank view.

Globally: Here’s the thing about Aero. Its clarity and resolving power exceeds the fidelity of most VR content to date. There are less than a dozen VR titles with the visual chops to really use Aero’s loyalty. Upgrading to Aero from any recent generation VR headset won’t mean much if you’re gaming Beat the saber, VRChat, or most independent VR titles; they just weren’t written with the necessary level of detail. But if you use a handful of apps where resolving power is crucial (like flight simulations), Aero’s visuals will delight.

Field of view

Photo from Road to VR

Varjo cites Aero’s field of view at “115 ° horizontal, 134 ° diagonal with 12mm eye relief”, although my personal measurements are well below that, even removing the face mask to bring me closer. more possible of the eyes. Here’s how it compares to recent headsets:

Personal measurements – 64 mm IPD
(minimum comfortable eye relief, no glasses, measured with HMD 1.2 test)

Varjo Aero Vive Pro 2 G2 reverb Valve index
Horizontal field of view 84 ° 102 ° 82 ° 106 °
Vertical field of view 65 ° 78 ° 78 ° 106 °

Personal measurements – 64 mm IPD
(absolute minimum eye relief; pads removed, no glasses, measured with HMD 1.2 test)

Varjo Aero Vive Pro 2 G2 reverb Valve index
Horizontal field of view 102 ° 116 ° 98 ° 108 °
Vertical field of view 77 ° 96 ° 88 ° 106 °

For such an expensive helmet, the lack of eye relief adjustment to maximize the field of view is a shame.

Even though the field of view is generally less than that of these other helmets, the large sweet-spot goes a long way in making it feel bigger than it is.

Similar to Vive Pro 2, the actual shape of the field of view is not as round as some other headsets. Instead, it looks slightly cropped vertically, a bit more at the bottom than at the top.

IPD & Eye-tracking

Varjo Aero includes the company’s 200Hz eye-tracking solution, coupled with an automatic motor-driven physical IPD adjustment ranging from 57 to 73mm.

When you put on the headset, you will be asked to look at a white dot in the center of the screen for a few seconds to calibrate both the eye tracking system and your IPD. If the IPD needs to be adjusted, you will hear a small hum from the headphones as the lenses slide quickly and easily into position.

You can see a reading of the measurement through the Varjo software (mine was on site), and you can even manually adjust the IPD if you want, in 0.5mm increments.

The eye tracking system in Aero can also be used for fovea rendering to increase rendering performance, but it is only supported in applications that use the Varjo SDK (which is rare).

With Aero likely to reach a wider audience than the company’s more expensive headsets, it’s possible that we may start to see more apps tailored to support the Varjo eye tracking system – the company says it does. is fairly straightforward for developers using Unity or Unreal Engine.

In my limited testing with fové rendering in Aero, I found it effectively invisible; the only time I could notice that it was even active was if the eye tracking was not calibrated correctly.

Continue to page 2: displays, audio, tracking and controllers ”


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