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Hands-On with OSVR Hacker Dev Kit

Last week’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) played host to a number of head-mounted display (HMD) reveals. The likes of 3DHead, VRTRID and ANTVR all had new hardware to show and even Oculus VR upped their game with the first demonstration of their head-related transfer function (HRTF) technology, but perhaps the biggest surprise was Razer’s entrant: OSVR.

Though admittedly still a way behind the current frontrunners, Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus, the OSVR Hacker Dev Kit is a very impressive HMD. The 100-degree field-of-view is decidedly competitive and the manual lens adjustment is smooth and obviously helps to reduce the cost of the product. In fact, Razer has already announced that the HMD will launch this summer at a retail price of just $199.99 USD.

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That price point puts the device directly in-line with Samsung’s Gear VR, which is undoubtedly an reasonably comparative product. The OSVR Hacker Dev Kit is lightweight and comfortable, features a high resolution 5.5 inch screen as standard and has a refresh rate of 60 frames-per-second. Though you could argue the toss over the strengths and weaknesses of each device, in the opinion of VRFocus the OSVR Hacker Dev Kit and Gear VR sit comfortably together as the second tier behind the heavy weights from Oculus VR and Sony Computer Entertainment.

Part of the big sell for the OSVR Hacker Dev Kit is the open nature of the device. This doesn’t just apply to the software, for which an official software development kit (SDK) will be made available this spring, but the actual HMD also. Razer, in a rather shocking move, has already revealed the full specifications of the device and the requirements for developing your own. Suggesting that the HMD is ‘hackable’ is one thing, but making it available to produce by your own means before the official launch is another.

This goes hand-in-hand with the ethos of OSVR’s development, of course. Razer CEO, Min-Liang Tan, spent much of his time at CES enthusing about the potential of virtual reality (VR) and the need to keep it open; offer a level playing field for all involved. He openly stated that he believes it was Razer’s duty to enter this space with an open source platform and HMD simply because no one else was. This, of course, is a bold move and one which will surely attract much attention from the global VR community. Time will tell whether the OSVR Hacker Dev Kit can compete on open ground with the likes of the Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus and Gear VR, but as far as VRFocus is concerned it’s off to a flying start.