Varjo VR-3 and XR-3 VR Headsets Raise the Resolution Bar With Bionic Displays

Varjo XR-3
(Image credit: Varjo)

Varjo today announced its next generation of VR and XR headsets. The VR-3 and XR-3 pack all the significant features businesses need from a professional-class headset, including wide field of view (FOV), eye tracking, hand tracking and top-of-the-line positional tracking. But even more impressive are the Bionic Displays promising the highest pixel density we’ve ever seen in HMDs.

Varjo's headsets have been on the market for a while, but it wouldn't be a surprise if you've never heard them. Varjo's headsets are costly and not sold to individuals. Varjo's XR-3 is available now to businesses for $5,495, which is down from over $10,000 for the XR-2. The new VR-3 headset is cheaper at $3,195, again with the price slashed in half from the outgoing model. That puts these headsets right in line with the StarVR One, another enterprise-class VR headset, and well below the cost of an XTAL from VRgineers.

But these aren't just your run of the mill head-mounted displays. You get a mighty impressive set for specifications and features.

Varjo VR-3 and XR-3 Specs

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Display & ResolutionFull-frame Bionic Display: uOLED focus area (27 x 27 degrees) with 1920 x 1920 per-eye resolution and LCD peripheral area with 2880 x 2720 per-eye resolution
Horizontal Field of View115 degrees
Refresh Rate90 Hz
Mixed RealityN/A
XR DepthN/A
Hand Tracking:Ultraleap Gemini (v5)
Comfort & Wearability3-point replaceable headband, polyurethane face cushions, automatic IPD 58-72mm
Weight (Without Headband)1.2 pounds (558g)
Connectivity2x headset adapters, 2x 16.4 feet (5m) USB-C cables;
11PC connections: 2x DisplayPortm 2x USB 3.0
Positional TrackingSteamVR 2.0
Eye Tracking200 Hz with sub-degree accuracy; 1-dot calibration for foveated rendering
Audio3.5mm headphone/microphone jack

Full Frame Bionic Display

The Varjo XR-3 and VR-3 have some of the highest resolution displays that we've seen offered in a VR headset (the Pimax Vision 8K X and Vision 8K Plus top it at 3840 x 2160 per eye), and that's before you consider Varjo's proprietary Bionic Display technology, which embeds a higher resolution (2880 x 2720) LCD display inside the primary uOLED panel (1920 x 1920). The base resolution is 2880 x 2720 pixels per eye, spread across a 115-degree FOV. That translates to over 30 pixels per degree (PPD) of resolution, which should by itself be enough to rival the clarity of the HP Reverb G2 (2160 x 2160 per-eye resolution).

Varjo's Full Frame Bionic Display, which Varjo compared to having "human-eye resolution," more than doubles the pixel density of the display’s central focal point. A tiny uOLED panel with 1920 x 1920 per-eye resolution occupies a 27 x 27-degree section of the focus area for a pixel density of 70 PPD.

Varjo achieves these pixel densities while also maintaining a 90 Hz refresh rate. The displays also cover 99% of the sRGB color space and 93% DCI-P3.

"Varjo has pushed the boundaries of high-resolution mixed reality for professionals across various industries," AC Mahendran, Director, XR at Unity, a real-time 3D content creator, said in a statement.

 "By working with Varjo, Unity continues to power the next level of photorealism and immersion for industrial design, simulation, training and more. Most recently, through our work with Varjo and Volvo, we propelled cutting-edge advancements in automotive safety."

Advanced Sensors

The XR-3 and VR-3 headsets also include eye tracking cameras to enable advanced features, such as foveated rendering, for improved performance and visual clarity.

Eye-tracking modules are also helpful for various business uses, such as gaze heatmap tracking for learning experiences or eye-based interactions, such as eye-contact in soft-skills training. The cameras in Varjo's eye-tracking system operate at a 200 Hz refresh rate, so they should have no trouble keeping up with your eye movements.

Eyes aren't the only part of your body that the XR-3 and VR-3 can track. Varjo integrated Ultraleap’s Gemini hand tracking solution. The XR-3 and VR-3 headset have built-in Ultraleap sensors, so you don't have to worry about plugging in an accessory to use the feature.

Triple-Ratchet Head Strap

(Image credit: Varjo)

Varjo said it took extra care in designing a headset that would remain comfortable for hours at a time, which meant thinking way outside the box for the head strap design. The XR-3 and VR-3 include an innovative triple-ratchet tightening system that’s supposed to alleviate all the pressure from your face and balance the weight perfectly on your head.

Varjo's mechanism starts with a standard mechanical adjustment system with a rear-mounted dial that keeps the headset secured to your head.

Next, there's a forehead cushion with a top-mounted dial. This one helps balance the weight of the headset.

Finally, there's another dial on each side of the strap near your temples. Cranking this adjusts the visor's angle to help you get the perfect alignment with your eye level. It also relieves the pressure from your cheekbones.

The new headsets are also 40% lighter than Varjo’s previous models.

XR-3 Has Lidar for Mixed Reality

Varjo's VR-3 and XR-3 headsets start from the same base, but there's a reason the XR-3 model costs $2,000 more. The higher-end model includes built-in LiDAR sensors for spatial awareness and stereo RGB cameras for video passthrough. Those features enable the XR-3 to deliver realistic and immersive mixed reality experiences that combine 3D elements with the real environment around you.

In a statement, Gregory Guillaume, Vice President of Design at Kia Motors Europe, pointed to the Bionic Display’s wide FOV and high resolution, as well as LiDAR being key attractions.

"The advanced depth-sensing and LiDAR in the XR-3 should give us the possibility to merge the real and the virtual, enabling a fully immersive experience and natural body-hand-object occlusion,” Guillaume said.

Best-in-Class Tracking System

(Image credit: Varjo)

Varjo's VR-3 and XR-3 headsets support the best VR tracking solution on the market today; Valve's Steam VR Tracking 2.0, the same tracking headset you’ll find in the Valve Index, one of the best VR headsets for individual consumers.

Valve's tracking solution offers sub-millimeter accuracy, and with four base stations, you can track headsets and controllers inside a massive 20 x 20m (65.6 x 65.6 feet) area. Varjo doesn't sell controllers, but you can use HTC Vive wands, Vive Trackers, or Valve Index controllers with the XR-3 and VR-3 headsets.

Furthermore, the XR-3 offers inside-out tracking with its advanced LiDAR system. That means you can operate it without the SteamVR Lighthouse base stations that the VR-3 acquires.

By entering a lower price bracket with these new HMDs, Varjo is looking to sell to smaller companies. The headsets are available now on Varjo’s website and the company's global reseller network.

 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years. 

  • Vince R
    I don't understand the highest resolution comment. Don't the Pimax 8K headsets have dual 3840x2160 displays?
  • jkflipflop98
    It's expensive for home use, but for a business it's dirt cheap. Build a simulation rig with $100,000 worth of customized LED panels, or spend $6k and get one of these. It's a no-brainer.
  • kcarbotte
    Vince R said:
    I don't understand the highest resolution comment. Don't the Pimax 8K headsets have dual 3840x2160 displays?

    What I meant to say was the highest pixel density.
    The pimax screens are much larger, therefore the pixels are spread out more.

    I am not 100% sure that the numbers in this thread are accurate, but if they are, the PPD of the peripheral screen in the new Varjo headsets is roughly 50% denser than that of the Pimax 8K headsets, while the central screen is more than three times as dense.


    Pimax 8K+/8KX -- 20.1PPD
    Varjo VR-3 -- 30 PPD
  • Vince R
    Thanks for the clarification.
  • computerguy72
    So the VArjo vr-3 is 70ppd in the inner 27 degrees and about 12ppd outside of that. I get 35.6ppd for the Pimax 8KX. Their 8kx is different than their other headsets as the signal is not scaled and they say the panel utilization is over 95%.
  • fireaza
    That’s a pretty clever idea for the screen. The human eye only see details in the center area of vision, which you can take advantage of by rendering the images with reduced resolution at the edges to improve performance. But actually building the screen so there’s more pixels in the center and less at the edges also accomplishes the same thing and probably has less compatibility issues.