Hands on: Razer OSVR Hacker Dev Kit review

How does the open platform dev kit stack up so far?

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Razer's first entry into virtual reality seems more promising on the software side though making everything open source may make VR more accessible.

For

  • Low latency
  • Decent build
  • Inexpensive
  • Open source

Against

  • Diopter needs work
  • Primarily a developer kit

Update: During GDC 2015, Razer revealed several more partnerships with various companies increasing the size of its OSVR platform.

The OSVR Hacker Dev Kit also has a few upgrades here and there including a new HD OLED display for lower latency and higher contrast. The optical mechanics have also been improved for easier adjustments.

New faceplates are also now part of the growing roster for the hacker dev kit. Whether it's for branding customization or for functional purposes - like utilizing modules for positional tracking - will be up to you, if you plan on using Razer's tech to develop your own VR headset.

I was able to try out Leap Motion's OSVR HDK faceplate and it definitely improved my experience with the Razer VR device.

Leap Motion and Razer OSVR HDK

In fact, CTO David Holz and CEO Michael Buckwald, also the co-founders Leap Motion, gave me a brief run down of the company and walked me through a series of demos with the new faceplate.

No longer attached via a piece of tape, the Leap Motion cameras are now integrated with the headset via an optional faceplate.

That means motion control with hand tracking can be used in various VR experiences. The cameras paired with the clear faceplate also mix in augmented reality for even more fun.

The AR demo was far more advanced than I expected and gave a legitimately tactile feelings as I pushed imaginary blocks around with my hand. I was basically tricking my brain into thinking there was something floating in front me that I could actually feel. Spooky, and exactly what I want from these head mounted displays.

The VR experience was also well tracked. Though simple and slow paced - I was only turning up and down switches and pushing buttons - the movements weren't that laggy and provided a nice glimpse into the future of VR and hand tracking.

Leap Motion OSVR

It's not perfect but neither is the tracking with Project Morpheus and its Move controllers. With Leap Motion, I at least have the freedom to move my hands around.

The OSVR faceplate with Leap Motion will include the embedded Leap Motion hardware and the OSVR motion plugin software. Developers worldwide can pre-order the HDK and the OSVR faceplate with Leap Motion through the OSVR web store in May; shipping will begin in June.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.