2019 VR Headsets Guide For Design Reviews

June 6, 2019

As said in our previous article, “What is VR?”, headsets are the most common systems used in virtual reality.

However, finding the perfect headset that will suit your needs the most for a design review can be confusing. There are many choices on the market, and even more as new headsets will be released throughout 2019.

To help you better understand your needs, we provide you with our 2019 VR headsets guide for design reviews.

In this article, we chose not to focus on specs, because you can find the information on the different products’ official websites and many reviews are already available on the web. However, we will rather focus on user experience in the context of a design review, because you should always keep in mind that what matters the most are your use cases.

What You Need to Know Before Choosing Your VR Headset

Don't Mind Specs Too Much and Focus On The Feeling

Latency is the #1 ennemy of presence

Latency, or motion-to-photon latency, is the delay between the user actual movement and its reproduction on screen.

Latency not only breaks the user’s presence in the virtual environment but can also cause motion sickness and nausea. For your comfort, latency must be lower than 20ms.

Most smartphone-based “VR viewers” have too much latency to be used seriously, so stay away from them.

Wireless adapters for HMDs will add latency. To our knowledge the HTC Vive Wireless adapter is the only acceptable solution.

Even though wires can be annoying, they are still the best option to avoid latency.

Screen Resolution Is Not That Important

For sure, a better picture quality will not only make your experience more comfortable, but it will also foster the immersion.

However, you don’t necessarily need the highest resolution for a design review.

The resolution of the Oculus Rift CV1 and HTC Vive, both 1080×1200 per eye, is a good acceptable minimum.

The new Oculus Rift S has better resolution and better perceived quality.

Unless you are working on some precise material, texture review or very small parts, you don’t need to get a high-resolution headset like the Varjo VR-1 or Pimax 8k.

Sure, a higher resolution is better, but also means more pixels, and more pixels mean more computer power which, as we will see below, can be a critical aspect.

Field of View (FOV): 110° Is Enough

The Field of View (FOV) is an important factor for immersion. However you don’t need to cover the full field of view of the human eyes for most design reviews. Furthermore, a wider FOV also means more pixels so more computer power required!

If you plan a collaborative design review, a 110° FOV, as proposed by the Oculus Rift CV1 or HTC VIVE Pro headset, is enough.

About trackers

Most recent VR headsets track the position and orientation of both the VR headset and controllers. This is also called 6DOF tracking (6 Degrees Of Freedom): 3 for the position (X,Y,Z) and 3 for the orientation.

The range of tracking can also be important. The Oculus Rift CV1 for example is mostly designed for you to be seated or standing in front of its two cameras. However, it can be difficult to walk further than 2m and to look away from the cameras: the tracking will probably be lost.

Room-scale tracking allows the user to freely move in an area where his movements can be captured by VR trackers. In design reviews, the ability to walk around your product gives a better understanding of objects’ depth, volumes and sizes.

All the HTC headsets (HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, HTV Vive Pro Eye) provide room-scale tracking.

The latest Oculus Rift S also has native room-scale tracking.

All the Windows Mixed Reality headsets should also be able to do room scale tracking even though the tracking is a bit less stable.

Computer Specs

Improov Virtual Mannequin

Currently we do not advise you to use a standalone VR headset such as the Vive Focus or Oculus Quest since their performance is not yet good enough to display most CAD data.

Regarding computers, we often say to our clients to take the best PC and graphics card that they can afford. This will ensure that most CAD models will be displayed smoothly.

A good setup to start with would be:

– Core I7 @ 3.5 Ghz

– 16 GB of RAM

– A “VR Ready” graphics card:

* NVidia Quadro M5/6000, P5/6000, RTX 4/5/6/8000

* NVidia GTX 1070/80, RTX 2060/70/80

Short Review

As we said before, we will focus in this article on user experience. Here you will find our personal impressions about some popular VR headsets’ relevance for design reviews.

HTC Vive

HTC VIVE and VIVE Pro

VIVE is the best choice for the industrials.

HTC headsets come with the best tracking: you can freely move in the room while reviewing your VR prototype.

You can also clip the HTC VIVE Trackers to track a specific body part. It is notably interesting for ergonomic analysis, for instance when you want to use a virtual mannequin tool in an ergonomic VR software like Improov.

Last but not least, commercial offers are made for professionals. If your VIVE headset has a malfunction, HTC will send you a new one the day after. Somehow critical when delays are tight.

Oculus Rift S

Oculus Rift S

The Oculus Rift CV1 is not available anymore so let’s talk about the Oculus Rift S.

The Oculus Rift S is more targeted at mainstream uses, like gaming. It has room scale tracking.

The experience is excellent to walk around the mockup.

Note that the Oculus Rift S uses cameras for tracking, which can cause security issues on some industrial projects, depending on your security policy.

windows mixed reality headsets

Windows Mixed Reality Headsets

Six headsets were developed from the same base proposed by Microsoft, all sharing the same features, by Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung.

These headsets were made to be affordable and easy to use.

They are entry-level headsets and they are low budget.The tracking is not the most robust you can find but it is an acceptable way to start using VR.

The notable exception is the Samsung Odyssey which is really nice.

What About the Second Generation Coming in Year 2019?

We are eagerly waiting for the HP Reverb and the Valve Index to arrive in our office to test them because they look very promising. We will update this article as soon as we get them!

If you want to learn more about how virtual reality can help you solve prototyping issues, we wrote an article about VR ROI and hidden benefits for the industry.

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