The $600 HP Reverb (left) and $400 Oculus Rift S (right).

Enlarge / The $600 HP Reverb (left) and $400 Oculus Rift S (right).

By the end of 2019, many major VR headset manufacturers seem poised to launch a new “statement” product for PCs. This month sees two such headsets reach store shelves: the Oculus Rift S (coming May 21, priced at $400) and the HP Reverb (out now, starting at $600).

In both companies’ cases, the statement from each headset is a mix of upgrade and compromise. Rift S sees Oculus take two steps forward, two steps back, from its three-year-old Rift headset to establish a new “baseline” PC-VR experience, particularly with active hand tracking in mind. Meanwhile, Reverb aims to deliver the most affordable “high-res” VR headset ever made—which, as you might expect, includes a few imperfections, ranging from the obvious to the surprising.

After living with both headsets, I can report that each headset’s sales pitch is totally fine, not game-changing, and both are worth scrutinizing—because neither is currently a slam-dunk recommendation.

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