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Standalone VR On A Budget: Pico's 'Goblin' HMD

Pico Interactive’s Goblin is an Android-based VR headset with 3DoF tracking, a 2.5K display, and a companion motion controller for under $300. That may seem like a lot when compared to a less expensive Gear VR or Daydream headset, but with the Goblin, you don’t need a $1,000 smartphone to power it. Everything is built right into the headset.

The VR industry is transitioning away from treating mobile VR as a smartphone accessory and moving towards treating mobile VR as another category of consumer electronic. The race for standalone VR headsets is well underway, and we’ll soon have access to a smattering of VR HMD choices that feature onboard processing and storage and don’t rely on a companion smartphone.

Most of the big players in VR are pursuing standalone headsets of one form or another. Last August, Intel revealed the Project Alloy “merged reality” HMD and got the standalone VR bandwagon rolling. In September, Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon VR820 SoC, which it designed for standalone VR headsets. The Snapdragon VR820 processor was the first clear sign that the VR hardware industry was making moves towards self-contained HMDs. A month later, at the Oculus Connect 3 conference, Oculus showed off a standalone headset prototype based on the Rift. That product won’t see the light of day for a while, but that reveal somewhat set the tone in the industry and the pace started to pick up from there. We’ve since heard announcements from HTC about a standalone Vive headset, and Google launched a standalone Daydream HMD reference design at Google I/O.

Now, a little-known company called Pico Interactive is joining the big players at the table with its own offering. And Pico even beat the big dogs to the punch (likely thanks to Qualcomm’s VR HMD Accelerator program). Pico Interactive announced that pre-orders are now open for the company’s Goblin VR HMD, which it plans to start shipping to customers in 6 to 8 weeks.

“One of the biggest pain points for consumers interested in virtual reality headsets is the high cost of entry,” said Paul Viglienzone, vice president of business development, Pico Interactive Inc. ”We believe the price point of the Pico Goblin solves this issue for casual gamers, families and many tech enthusiasts. With its all-in-one wireless design, the range of great games, and ultra-portability, the Pico Goblin aims to shake up the VR world this summer.”

Pico Interactive positioned the Goblin as an entry-level Android-based VR HMD for people on a medium budget. The Goblin HMD features a Snapdragon 820 SoC, 3GB of memory, and 16GB of storage. It also features a 5.5-inch 2560x1440 display that operates at 70Hz. Pico also includes a 3DoF motion controller like you would find with a Daydream HMD. Those are pretty good specifications for mobile VR. To put it into perspective, the Samsung Galaxy S7, which is an excellent companion to the Gear VR, features a Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB of memory and a screen with the same resolution. The difference here is that Galaxy S7 would have set you back $600 a year ago, plus you would need at $99 Gear VR. By comparison, the Pico Interactive Goblin is $269, and you don’t need anything else with it.

Pico Interactive is even sweetening the pot for pre-order customers. The company is offering a $20 discount and “five premium VR games” to anyone who orders a kit before its release this summer. Pico didn’t say which games come with the headset, but the company said there would be 50 titles ready to go on launch day.

For more information about the Pico Goblin, or to place an order, head over to Pico Interactive’s website. The company is also developing a premium standalone headset called the Pico Neo, but that hardware isn’t on sale yet.

ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 820, 2.2GHz 64-bit quad core, Adreno 530 GPU, Hexagon 680 DSP
Display5.5" Super Fast TFT LCD, 2560 x 1440 70Hz
OpticalSelf-adaptive pupil distance (54-71mm), 92-degree FOV, blue ray reduction
Memory3GB LPDDR4-1866
Storage16GB eMMC 5.1 SSD, support for up to 128GB MicroSD
Sensors3DoF IMU with 1000Hz sample rate,  proximity sensor to enable sleep mode
Audio3.5mm stereo earphone jack, mono speaker, microphone
Battery3500mAh battery - 3-hours continuous use, support Qualcomm Quick Charge
WirelessWifi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2
Dimensions (W x L x D)102 x 186 x 103mm