In July, ARPost wrote an article about the Pico G2 4K series of stand-alone 3DoF VR headsets. The headsets represent a rare second-gen model when other industry VR headset manufacturers have moved to 6DoF solutions.
I’ve had my hands on the G2 4K Enterprise edition for almost a month or so to put together a hands-on review of the headset.
The Pico G2 Series
The Pico G2 series is the second generation of Pico’s stand-alone “Goblin” headsets. The original Goblin, incidentally, launched a year before Oculus launched their first stand-alone headset.
Four products make up the G2 line, the G2, the G2 4K, G2 4KS, and the G2 4K Enterprise. The entire line runs the Qualcomm SnapDragon835 and is compatible with Pico’s app store and VIVEPORT. Other features, like refresh rate, storage, and external cameras vary by the model.
The Enterprise has a 75Hz refresh rate, 128GB of storage, an RGB camera, and weighs in at just over 1lb, including the battery pack.
Initial thoughts on opening the headset for the first time are that, like an artificial christmas tree or a new tent, these contents will never again fit this well. Contents are the headset itself, the remote and batteries, the charging cable and wall adaptor, instructions booklet, a lens cloth, and two paper masks to go between the wearer’s face and the actual headset.
The first time that I put the headset on, I thought that I would have to write about Pico’s poor quality peripheral graphics. It turns out that Pico’s peripheral graphics are just fine and my glasses were filthy.
Even once my glasses were clean, they posed a slight problem – the foam face cushion wraps around glasses frames and lets a little bit of light in. I am fortunate that my glasses are for distance so I could just not wear them while I had the headset on. Incidentally, there’s also a little bit of light that also gets in around the nose.
Another personal problem that impacts my use experience but for which I blame Pico none at all has to do with that great scourge – VR motion sickness. Some people get it, some people don’t, I do.
As a result, I never had the headset on for more than around 45 minutes at a time. That having been said, even during my longest sessions, the headset itself never really bothered me. It wasn’t uncomfortable, front-heavy, etc. Further, the strap adjustments are explained well in the accompanying book and were pretty easy to figure out.
I think that my least favorite thing about the headset had to do with moving content off of it. When I saw that the charge cable has a USB, I hoped that it could also be used as a sync cable. If this is the case, I never figured it out and there’s nothing about it in the instructions.
The headset does have a microSD slot, but my computer doesn’t, so being able to move content off of the headset via the USB charging cable would have been handy.
Using the Remote
The remote is simple and straightforward, featuring a home button, a back button, a trigger, and a touchpad that also serves as a directional pad and an action button.
Because most of the buttons that are on the remote are also on the headset, it’s easy to imagine situations in which a vendor or exhibit organizer could give a user the headset without the remote and still have most features navigable. There are even instructions in the booklet for using the headset without use of the remote.
This was also just a nice usability feature. When I’m in VR, how I think about controls changes based on the experience. If I’m doing something that really involves the controllers, I think about the controllers more. When I’m doing something more passive, I think about the headset more. So, I really appreciated the ability to do a lot of commands with either interface.
It would be swell if the remote were chargeable via cable like the headset is, but users conscious of such things could use rechargeable batteries in the remote. For what it’s worth, the batteries that came with the remote lasted through the whole month that I was using the headset and show no signs of slowing down.
Exploring the Audio
I spent a lot of time with it in Engage, which allowed me to test the headset’s built-in microphone. While some applications encourage users to use a dedicated microphone to cut down on background noise, I didn’t have a significant problem with that in this platform and with this headset.
For example, when I use AltspaceVR’s desktop mode, sounds from the environment are picked up again in my laptop’s microphone. I didn’t notice that happening with the Pico.
While using earphones can make for more immersive sound, the G2 has onboard speakers that were more than sufficient for everything that I experimented with in the headset. In fact, with one speaker on each side of the headset, it was late into the article writing process that using the headset with earphones actually occurred to me.
In the end, the Pico G2 4K Enterprise impressed me with its audio, video, and its user-friendly design. While the headset did let in a bit of light and didn’t work great with my glasses, it was comfortable and easy to wear, even for someone who does experience VR sickness.
The things that I thought might bother me while using the headset like physical discomfort, strap adjustment, audio design, and usability, were executed really well.
The handful of things that did bother me, like light from under the headset, not having a directly rechargeable controller, and difficulty getting files off of the headset, were pretty small or came up pretty late in use.
While there is debate in the XR community regarding whether 3DoF can really be included as immersive, there are a lot of applications that just don’t require 6DoF hardware and software. Pico is providing a high-quality, user friendly, affordable option for these use cases.