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OSVR improves the display on its new developer headset

Engadget Engadget 13/06/2016 Nick Summers

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The Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) project will soon have a new headset for developers. Unlike previous hardware, which offered a so-so experience, the new Hacker Development Kit 2 (HDK 2) is supposed to be a true competitor for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. That means a better display -- the new version comes with a low persistence OLED panel with a total resolution of 2160x1200, or 441 pixels per inch (PPI). It has a 110-degree field of view and now supports VR experiences at up to 90 frames per second -- both of which are quickly becoming industry standards.

The HDK 2 will start shipping in July for $399. That's a good deal cheaper than the Rift ($599) and the HTC Vive ($799), although it's worth noting the HDK2 doesn't come with headphones or a controller. Still, the headset could appeal to developers who are leaking for a cheaper way to experiment with VR -- or at least, a form that doesn't require a smartphone. In addition, OSVR will continue selling its older HDK 1.4 headset for $299.

OSVR's supporters crave an open, dynamic VR ecosystem similar to what Android has achieved on mobile. The hope is that the HDK 2 will ultimately inspire other companies to build their own hardware, expanding the platform and attracting game developers along the way. To accelerate interest on the software side, it's announcing a development fund worth $5 million today. The payouts are unusual though -- Razer says it will buy game codes "in bulk" from each successful applicant. The number (and therefore the value) will vary depending on the project.

OSVR faces stiff competition on four fronts -- the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are already out, while Sony's PlayStation VR looms on the horizon. Google is jumping in too with Daydream, an Android-based VR platform that will offer a more premium experience than Cardboard. It's early days for the VR industry, but already game developers are being pulled in different directions. That makes OSVR a trickier proposition -- the project has some support, but to survive and flourish it needs more momentum.

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