A couple of years ago we only had Oculus and HTC in steady competition with their headsets being the only choice for VR enthusiasts. The situation is much different today, and tomorrow, virtual reality devices could become like smartphones with many companies having one on offer. Like in the smartphone market, Chinese companies don’t sleep on the rise of the VR trend and it’s only a matter of time before they catch up and possibly surpass the competition. One such company is the China-based DPVR also known as Deepoon which holds a whopping 24% market share among the mainland China VR brands.
While their first virtual reality devices were mainly focused on the virtual cinema experience, some of their newer devices also cater to the gaming population. Their newest headset even promises a full-on 4K gaming experience with the help of NOLO motion tracking tech. We were naturally enticed by this and decided to give it a go in order to check how it holds up against the competition which moved on to integrated tracking in their latest generation of devices.
DPVR E3 4K Gaming Combo is available for purchase by directly contacting the DPVR at [email protected] with a special discount available if you refer to Keengamer.
When it comes to the design of the headset itself, the DPVR clearly had minimalism and practicality in mind. It’s a fairly minimal piece of tech made out of plastic with not very many distinguishing features. The fully plastic frame has its benefits however and the first thing to notice is the fact that the headset is very light, coming in at only 295 grams. This makes it half the weight of competitor devices like the Oculus Rift and practically means you’ll barely feel it on your head -- enabling you to have longer play sessions with no discomfort.
In contrast, the segment that sits on your face might cause some issues as it definitely isn’t “one size to fit them all”. While it visually appears like leather, the face cushioning is actually made out of foam. Despite it being very comfortable, it strictly follows the lines of the headset and is not flexible which means that it won’t adjust itself to tightly grip your face, especially if you have a narrower one. This can cause an issue where the headset can let in some light from your surroundings and reflect it off the display which can somewhat break the immersion. While this generally didn’t affect my enjoyment of the headset, it’s something to be mindful of when considering a buy.
|Screen||Fast LCD, 1920x1080 per eye for a total of 3840x2160|
|Field of View||110 degrees|
|Tracking||NOLO tracking (base station, head tracking and controllers)|
The bulk of the head strap is made out of solid quality plastic and is extendable by a couple of centimeters so you can fit it around your head. The backside can even be fitted with a detachable cushion for added comfort, and the upper part of the strap is made out of rubber. While it’s generally easy to fit, it does require some fidgeting before you adjust it to sit comfortably on your face without leaving gaps or preventing you from breathing properly through your nose.
The cables are nicely managed along the upper portion of the strap and are unobtrusive during the usage of the headset. Speaking of cables, the DPVR 4K requires a lot of connections. The tail end of the main cable features the HDMI and a whopping three USB connectors that you need to plug into your PC in order for the device to work. Then there is a micro-USB connector for the NOLO tracking device as well as a 3,5mm jack for headphone usage since you don’t have any sort of built-in sound system. While the amount of cables is not problematic per se, requiring just a bit more effort in order to set up, it’s in stark contrast to the mixed reality competitors who moved on to a more simple plug-and-play system with a maximum of two connectors for their tethered devices.
Lastly, there’s the NOLO tracking system consisting of the head tracking unit, the base unit and the controllers themselves. All three are similarly designed with the head unit and the controllers having that recognizable disco-ball multi-angle positioning system. The head tracking unit attaches to the top of the visor and is connected to it via the aforementioned micro-USB cable. The base unit, on the other hand, is wireless and acts as the bridge between the head and controller movement. It’s designed to be placed somewhere in your room, preferably at a higher position from where it can clearly “see” your movements.
The controllers are well designed and their face is strikingly similar to the HTC Vive controllers. They have a big touch-sensitive tracking pad that also acts as a sort of a D-pad as well as the menu and power buttons. On the back, you have a trigger and on the side, you have a small grip button. They are generally very easy and intuitive to use and you’ll have no problems waving them around for extended periods of time. This is also thanks to the rechargeable batteries in both the controllers and the base which will allow you around 5-6 hours of continuous playtime.
The biggest draw of this DPVR headset by far is its display. The fast-LCD panel present here has a 1920 x 1080 resolution per eye, making it a 4K headset at 3840 x 2160 combined. You’ll look at it through the fairly standard Fernel lenses with a fixed interpupillary distance and a 110 degrees field of view. The resolution itself makes the image produced noticeably sharper and more detailed when compared to some of the competitor devices. Numerous VR games and experiences are much more detailed and enjoyable with almost no pixelation or blur occurring whatsoever.
Now, while the resolution might be higher, the refresh rate, coming in at 75HZ is actually lower than what we see in the competition, but not by much. Even so, the difference is barely noticeable, with very minimal ghosting and it has a benefit of making this device require just a bit less powerful PC than you would need for something like an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive.
|CPU||Intel i5-4590 or AMD FX8350 equal or above|
|RAM||4GB or above|
|GRAPHICS CARD||Nvidia GeForce GTX970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 or above|
|OPERATING SYSTEM||Windows 7-SP1-64, Windows 8.1-64, Windows 10-64|
This being a tethered headset and having an external tracker, whether you enjoy it really comes down to the setup. The DPVR has a companion software called the DPVR Assistant which will guide you through the basic connection setup and enable you to update the headset. This part of the setup is fairly self-explanatory with the headset, base, and the controllers quickly pairing up as soon they are turned on.
If you plan on using the headset with Steam VR, that’s where you’ll have to play around a bit to get it working properly. As mentioned, the placement of the base unit is crucial in that regard and you’ll need to set it up at a reasonable height in front of the area where you plan on using the headset.
One thing to note is that the headset and the NOLO tracking work best when you set Steam VR for “standing only”. This is due to the headset having only the base serve as the external sensor which won’t give you much in the way of freedom of movement. Since the base is basically your only camera, the controls are slightly delayed and sometimes misalign due to rapid movement or quick turning. The DPVR, however, offers a quick fix -- putting the controllers together and double-clicking the menu buttons will orient you the right way and quickly realign the controllers.
While tracking does its job well most of the time, your enjoyment will mostly depend on the choice of games. Any number of low to medium intensity games where you don’t have to make high-speed turns will work great. We tested the device with No Man’s Sky, Wizards, Project Cars and Beat Saber and all worked great for the most part with only the faster levels of the latter causing some tracking issues. Other such high-intensity games can sometimes cause the in-game controls to shake, have micro jitters, or misalign, making you have to repeat the aforementioned controller movement to reset the view.
Nevertheless, you’ll be able to experience and enjoy most of what Steam has to offer with no difficulties. While NOLO tracking isn’t as precise as something you’d get in newer mixed reality competitors, the resolution of this headset at least gives you an almost perfect visual experience. Since DPVR has had a steady rise in the VR market, it’s exciting to see what the future holds for this giant once it hopefully evolves its tracking tech.