The consumer virtual reality (VR) space is going to have changed a great deal by the end of 2019, mainly due to the addition of standalone head-mounted displays (HMD). Oculus Quest is gathering the most interest it seems, with HTC Vive Focus still due a western release – and Vive Cosmos can sort of be included – plus there’s Chinese standalone specialist Pico with its newest device, the G2 4K, which the company had on show during CES 2019.
If you’ve not heard of Pico before, the company has always made standalone HMDs, such as the Pico Neo and Pico Goblin. It was during 2018 the Pico launched the G2 range, a device which uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 XR platform, dual LDC screens and a 101° field-of-view. However, the market is asking for more, with the likes of HTC Vive Pro and Pimax going down the route of improving resolution, reducing the screendoor effect that plagues some headsets. With TV manufacturers pushing the 4K standard across their ranges for a number of years now, Pico has followed suit with the new headset, designed more towards enterprise than consumer markets.
When it comes to first impressions, the Pico G2 4K isn’t really that dissimilar to the rest of the company’s headset range, with a fairly generic design to the facial unit and quick release fabric straps either side and on top. What is noticeable before putting the headset on is the lump of plastic that goes at the back of your head. This is the battery, placed there to help evenly distribute weight better. And does it? It certainly seemed so, with less weight on the front there didn’t seem to be as much pressure on the bridge of my nose, perfect for longer VR sessions, whether that’s watching a movie or engaging in a conference call.
As for the main event, what was shown did look stunning on the new 4K screens. As you’d hope to expect the clarity was pin sharp, with no discernible screendoor effect. The demo was limited to viewing very high quality close up images of bugs, being able to pick out individual hairs and spikes on their spindly legs. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, the level of clarity and richness of colour almost made it look as if you were staring at museum exhibits.
Definitely ticking the boxes when it came to displaying the punchy wow factor of the 4K screens, it would have been nice to have seen a little more. A 360-degree video, for example, to look at how the screens handle movement and possibly content from a lower resolution source. Even so, I think this is the right direction for Pico to head in, headsets do need greater resolution and to do away with screendoor once and for all.
Even though this is Pico’s top end headset, when it comes to standalone rivals, it’s more of an Oculus Go upgrade than a direct rival to Oculus Quest or Vive Focus. This is primarily due to the inside-out tracking the two headsets boast, giving rise to greater freedom in VR thanks to roomscale and 6DoF controllers. As such Pico G2 4K is far more suited to institutions which are looking to showcase immersive content, and want a headset with as higher resolution as possible in a convenient form factor, which the Pico G2 4K does very nicely.