Varjo Aero: A New, ULTRA-High-Resolution Consumer VR Headset

The new Varjo Aero VR headset offers a resolution of 2880 x 2720 pixels per eye!
(image source)

Varjo, the Finnish manufacturer of ultra-high-end virtual reality and mixed reality headsets for the corporate market, which boast photorealistic levels of resolution, has announced a brand new VR headset intended for the consumer/prosumer market: the Varjo Aero.

This new PCVR headset (which retails for US$1,990, which is just the price for the headset alone, but you can use Valve Index Knuckles controllers and base stations with it) has the following key features:

  • Dual Mini LED LCD lenses with a resolution of 2880 x 2720 pixels per eye at 90Hz (which completely removes the screen-door effect seen in lower-resolution VR headsets);
  • Automatic interpupillary distance (IPD) adjustment (i.e. you just put it on and the device automatically adjusts to your eyes), plus ultra-fast, built-in eye-tracking at 200 Hz;
  • Weighing in at 617 grams, offering 4 separate adjustment dials for a custom fit, with active cooling and optimized ergonomics for long-duration usage; and
  • Unlike Varjo’s corporate line of VR/AR/XR headsets, there is no annual software subscription fee.

However, there are also a few drawbacks to the Varjo Aero: there is no built-in audio and, even worse, no built-in microphone! Also, as Jamie Feltham notes in his review of the product on UploadVR:

So let’s start with what has been my biggest issue in my time testing the headset. Yes the Aero is impeccably clear and I’ll touch on that in a second, but over the past four weeks using the headset I’ve noticed significant peripheral distortion when rotating my head. As I look away from a virtual object or surface, it appears to warp as if not entirely solid. Only the very center of my view looks stable. It’s incredibly distracting (which, ironically, is only enhanced by the clarity of the display).

In pretty much all the apps I’ve tested, including big-budget titles like Half-Life: Alyx and The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and indie projects like Gorn and Sweet Surrender, it’s been a noticeable issue.

Crucially, Varjo itself knows about this. I’ve been on multiple troubleshooting calls with the company over the past few weeks to talk about it and have been repeatedly assured that this is a software issue it’s aiming to fix with subsequent updates. In fact, the company says it expects to have its Base software fully ready for the Aero in December, which is when it also expects the first units ordered today to arrive.

And, of course, the YouTube VR vloggers were all over this new release! I have attached review videos by Thrillseeker, Cas and Chary, and Sebastian Ang of MRTV below (if you only have time to watch one, watch Thrillseeker’s; his mind is just blown by the Varjo Aero, although he also notes the visual distortion Jamie mentioned, and says that the company assured him that they would fix the issue before shipping product):

As Thrillseeker says in his review video, improvements to virtual reality hardware and software are accelerating, and slowly but surely filtering down to the consumer market! It’s an exciting time to be in VR!

I leave you with another video showing how the Varjo Aero VR headset is being used in aircraft pilot training:

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Some Prizes from the Creepy Russian Village Hunt

You might be surprised to learn that there is a large and active Russian-language community in Second Life! Second Life – FREE is a little-known-about Russian-language group on Vkontakte, the Russian version of Facebook. It’s the largest VK community dedicated to free and inexpensive things in Second Life. (Use the Russian-to-English translator in your Chrome browser to read the posts in this Russian-language community. You do not need to set up an account on VKontakte; just click on the “Not Now!” link whenever a pop-up appears asking you to log in.)

This group is hosting the Creepy Russian Village Hunt in Second Life for Halloween, with prizes from a variety of vendors, ranging in price from free to L$25 each. The hunt object is the traditional Russian nesting doll!

I was particularly taken by the Russian/Slavic design elements of the womenswear prizes, so today Vanity Fair is modeling a few of my favourite prizes from this hunt. I won’t be telling you where to find these elusive dolls, but I will share with you my top six tips for successful hunting in Second Life.

Please note that in order to take clearer pictures of the hunt prizes, I changed the default sky settings of the sim to Nam’s Optimal Skin 1. You might want to leave the lighting at the default setting to really appreciate the atmosphere of the creepy village! (The pictures I took of the sim are stills from a promotional video for the hunt.)

This lovely Mavka peasant dress, the prize from Silk Road, costs only L$25 and comes in both white and black versions. The Mavka dress comes in sizes to fit Maitreya Lara; Meshbody Legacy and Legacy Perky; INTHIUM Kupra; eBody Reborn; and Kalhene Erika mesh bodies.

Here Vanity is showing you two different hunt prizes from ERSCH, the very Russian Laerta head ribbon (which comes in three pieces; you can detach the right and left bows), and the Alice dress, which comes in bloody and non-bloody versions (there’s also another hunt prize consisting of the same dress, but in black instead of white). The ERSCH prizes are only L$15 each. The Alice dress comes in the following sizes: Maitreya Lara and Petite; Belleza Freya; Meshbody Legacy and Perky; INTHIUM Kupra and Kups; and eBody Reborn.

This beautifully embroidered red, white, and black Adela gown is one of the hunt prizes from ANTAYA (Maitreya Lara size only; L$25):

Another prize from ANTAYA is the Hilda gown (Legacy and Maitreya sizes; L$25). I found the Maitreya Lara version of this garment includes an auto-hide which automatically alphas out your hands and feet, so you will need to reset that using your Maitreya alpha HUD (it’s a small bug, but one I’d have thought the creator would have caught while testing).

There are many other prizes in the hunt; you can see them all here. (Don’t forget to turn on the automatic translation in your Chrome web browser!)

You can teleport to the Creepy Russian Village hunt sim here. Good luck!

Two Videos Which Show the Variety and Beauty of Sansar’s Many Worlds

I admit it: I still have a soft spot in my heart for the early social VR platform Sansar.

I joined Sansar which was then in closed beta test, in January 2017, and I began this blog in order to write exclusively about Sansar (in fact, the original name for the RyanSchultz.com blog was the Sansar Newsblog). Over time, I slowly expanded to write about other platforms, but Sansar was my introduction to social VR.

In my opinion, Sansar (built by Linden Lab, opened to the public on July 31st, 2017, and later sold to Wookey in 2020) still boasts some of the most breathtakingly beautiful worlds in the metaverse (thanks in large part to their advanced lighting model). I wanted to reshare two of my favourite videos to give those of you, who might never have set a virtual foot in Sansar, a taste of those worlds.

First is a video by Wurfi, compiled in 2019, showcasing numerous worlds in Sansar. Watching this brings back so many happy memories!

And second is the following YouTube video by Daisy Winthorpe, made in 2020, which also shows off numerous Sansar worlds:

I do hope that these two videos will inspire you to download the Sansar client, and go do some exploring! Many if not most of these worlds are still up and running. Here’s a step-by-step guide for newbies I wrote up in 2019 (although I cannot guarantee that parts of it are not a bit out-of-date).

Visit the Metaverse Festival in Decentraland, October 21st to 24th, 2021

The Metaverse Festival is a four-day celebration of music, culture, and creativity in the blockchain-based virtual world of Decentraland, starting today and running through to October 24th, 2021. Here’s a sitemap with coordinates (you can see this in a larger size on the Metaverse Festival website):

The festival boasts an impressive lineup of over 75 performers, including 3LAU, Alison Wonderland, deadmau5, and Nina Nesbitt. You can get details on when and where to catch your favourite artist on the Decentraland events listing. A complete lineup of performers is on the Metaverse Festival website, which features a suitably trippy design:

A four-day celebration of music, culture and creativity in the virtual social world of Decentraland, the Metaverse Festival is a grand collision of light, sound and portable toilets.

It’s the first event of its kind – a fully decentralized celebration of music that offers a weird and wonderful brew of world-class headline acts, mind blowing stages, games, exclusive artist merch, collectibles and more.

So, on October 21, dress your avatar in your very best wearables and jump into an experience like no other.

And if this is your first time in the virtual world, be sure to take a look at our Festival FAQs, which explain how you can be a part of the fun.

We can’t wait to see you in the metaverse!

Gah, that word again…”decentralized”. Decentraland may be many things, but one thing it is most certainly not is decentralized. Everything runs on Decentraland’s own servers, on Decentraland’s artificially scarce and increasingly expensive virtual land (called, of course, LAND).

It just irritates the hell out of me when PR people cavalierly toss around meaningless descriptions like “a fully decentralized celebration of music”. And “the first event of its kind”? Second Life would like a word. Festivals in virtual worlds have been around for years, people.

Apparently, even Paris Hilton herself is making an appearance at Decentraland’s Metaverse Festival (hmmm, I guess she gave up on Staramba Spaces/MATERIA.ONE, another blockchain platform which I savagely reviewed here and here on my blog). God only knows what she’ll be doing up on stage (probably trying to deejay).

Anyway, that’s enough kvetching for one day. If you want to visit the Metaverse Festival, you will likely need to set up a wallet (here’s a quote taken from the Festival FAQs document):

The best way to fully enjoy the Decentraland experience is to get yourself a digital wallet. Digital wallets work as your personal account, keeping all your digital assets (such as NFTs, LAND, cryptocurrency) and in-world progress safe. And when you return to Decentraland, you just need to hit ‘connect’ and you’re in.

You can still enter Decentraland without a wallet, by signing in with your email address (via Fortmatic) or as a Guest, but you won’t have the chance to – for example – receive daily rewards and airdrops, trade in the Marketplace or log in with a different device using the same ID and avatar.

Learn how to get a wallet with our simple Beginners Guide.

Got all that? Cryptonewbies might also want to refer to the blogpost I wrote when Decentraland first opened its doors to the general public: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Get Started in Decentraland (and Some Caveats for New Users).

Have fun and enjoy the festival!

You can follow what’s going on in Decentraland via Twitter and Reddit, or catch up the latest news via their blog. You can also join their official Discord server.