This little review is for Heliosurge, who was quite nice to me here and in the original openmr forum.
I have been waiting for Pimax Crystal patiently, then disappointed that they never lower the price to a good level. $1500 is the best they can do. I respect their decision though. Probably there are some costs that we don’t know. I believe that if they could have cut it, they already did.
Out of blue, Varjo just announced a huge discount on their headset Aero. The price tag $990 is very sweet. It kinda solves 2 problems for me. 1st is the price. 2nd is the urge for high clarity headset.
I have been using Pimax 5K super for years. It has been working pretty well. The only complaint is about the screen door effect. The more I use it, the more I notice the pixelated surface. I had been yearning for a headset that doesn’t have any SDE. Varjo Aero is quite a good candidate to finally solve it.
So I ordered the headset on 9/21, and received it yesterday 9/29. The new headset was shipped from Shenzhen, China, got a custom delay in Memphis, TN, then arrived only after 8 days. The shipping itself is pretty fast. The package is solid. Only thing I don’t like, is that on outside it marked “Varjo Aero”. So if anyone knew what that meant, he could have just taken it. The delivery man didn’t get my signature as instructed, and he just left it in the lobby. Thank God no one stole it.
The opening and testing was quite eventful. I was about to write a long review for Heliosurge, then I saw this review:
He just said almost everything I wanted to say, in a much better way. So what can I say addition to that ?
OK, since I don’t play VR games, my experience might be a little different. Maybe I just talk about the things unique for a VR watcher?
First, as a VR video watcher, I don’t actually need a base station, even for Varjo Aero, which states that “the unit requires a base station to work”. No, that’s just for gamers. Varjo Aero is just like Pimax 5k Super. It comes with 3 DOF sensors, and it’s quite enough for regular VR video watching.
I got a $75 heavily discounted V1 base station from Microcenter, and it works well for Aero. It adds a feature when I watch a 3D movie: if my head gets closer, the 3D screen will appear closer to me. Nice to have but not necessary. I enjoy 3D movies just fine without the light house. Therefore, I am so glad that I didn’t shelf out hundreds of dollars for base stations.
Second, watchers don’t need those VR controllers as well. All I have is a $40 MSI gamepad compatible with Xbox, and that already works well with VR video players. Those fancy VR controllers are, once again, nice to have, but not necessary.
Third, it seems Varjo Aero is actually tailored to watchers like me. It’s not actually designed for gamers.
Seems quite a strange statement, right ? Let me explain in detail:
When first time put the headset on, immediately I noticed the obvious and dreaded CA ( Chromatic Aberration ). I was stunned that how could anyone sell headsets like that ? It’s even worse than using a Google cardboard with a phone ! I don’t understand why in the past people spent $2000 on it and not demand refund instantly. Yeah, the CA was that bad !
Moreover, the barrel distortion is bad too. Whenever I move my head, everything around the center changes shape. I saw this many times in my Cardboard days. When a new $10 cardboard was not calibrated correctly, this kind of distortion would surely occur. I just didn’t expect a $990 VR headset would do the same.
Google offers a way to calibrate and greatly reduce the barrel distortion for free. Why Varjo didn’t spend just a tiny effort to reduce it ? Right now it’s like a bad joke: a $10 cardboard VR has less distortion than a $990 headset. I wonder how Varjo people sleep soundly at night ? Or how could they charge people $2000 for a headset that had worse problem than a $10 cardboard?
The good thing about Aero, is all about the center area. There, the picture is so clear. The CA is barely noticeable, and the distortion is small.
When I bumped up the resolution from the default 35ppd to 39ppd, some kind of magic just happened: the picture became sharp as knife. Everything seemed so nice in the center, then I took a glance to the edge, ewww, the ugly CA, distortion and blurness were still there.
For a VR gamer, the problems above should be an absolute deal-killer. You simply cannot tolerate those eye-hurting problems in a fast-moving and glancing-around game environment. The bad immersive experience will kill your brain as well.
( American soldiers are using Varjo headsets for combat training. I pray for those poor souls. They should have chosen Pimax. )
But for VR watchers like me, those problems are not so bad, because typically we just focus on the screen center. We don’t need to look around. So when the center is clear and detailed like real, all other faults are forgiven.
So do I recommend this headset ? No, not to gamers, but yes for some VR video watchers.
Since I am disappointed, will I return the headset ? The answer is no. I still like the picture quality of the center, especially when set to max 39ppd. All my 3D movies are even more enjoyable, when previously the Pimax 5k’s SDE ruined the experience.