Following on last year’s announcement by social VR platform Somnium Space, that they were going to release a branded VR headset (which was demoed at the Consumer Electronics Show held last month), today another social VR platform, Bigscreen, unveiled what they are calling the world’s smallest virtual reality headset: the Bigscreen Beyond.
Here’s the requisite, slick teaser promo:
Weighing only 127 grams, and at the diminutive size of 143 mm long by 52 mm wide, the Bigscreen Beyond goes on presale today for US$999.00, and the first units are expected to ship in the third quarter of this year.
One drawback of this device is its comparatively limited field of view (FOV), 90° by 93°, which many commenters on the r/VirtualReality subreddit community saw as a dealbreaker. However, people need to remember that Bigscreen is primarily a virtual space to gather with friends (from both near and far away) to watch movies together, and the Beyond seems like a logical, lightweight, comfortable headset whose primary purpose is to consume such content. It’s notable that the Beyond headset features a custom-moulded face cushion, and Bigscreen has built the necessary infrastructure in order to create these custom faceplates, on a quick turnaround, for each and every purchaser! (The Beyond also uses magnetically-attached custom lenses for those, like me, who might require vision correction.)
And I wonder if any other social VR platforms are going to follow the lead of Somnium Space and Bigscreen, and branch out into branded virtual reality hardware. It’s an intriguing trend, and it certainly looks like we are going to see some interesting new VR headsets enter a marketplace dominated by Meta, with Valve and Vive fighting over the remainder. 2023 is going to be a fun year!
UPDATE 3:00 p.m.: Of course, the virtual reality hardware YouTubers are all over this announcement, dropping videos they recorded during the pre-release period, while under a press embargo. Here’s a 20-minute review by Adam Savage’s Tested channel, which included a chat with Bigscreen VR’s founder and CEO, Darshan Shankar:
UPDATE Feb. 14th, 2023: I forgot to mention one other interesting fact about the Bigscreen Beyond: you do a scan of your eyes before your device is delivered, not only for the custom-fitting face cushion, but also to set the IPD (interpupillary distance, i.e. the distance between the center of the pupils) for the headset! The IPD is fixed at the factory, and cannot be adjusted after delivery.
So, between the custom face cushion and the fixed IPD, this is not a device which can be shared between friends, coworkers, or family members! It is truly customized to your eyes and your face.
Also, as you might have guessed from the videos, this is not a wireless headset. It’s a PCVR device, which means that it must be connected to a desktop PC with a good graphics card. You’ll also have to shell out for SteamVR accessories such as hand controllers and base stations, if you don’t already have them; the US$999 only gets you the headset!