CES 2015: Razer OSVR Takes a Run at Virtual Reality Market

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Steve Anderson
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CES 2015: Razer OSVR Takes a Run at Virtual Reality Market

While gaming innovations to come out of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) event haven't always been a big hit with gamers, there's usually one significant exception: pretty much anything Razer shows. Razer is well known for its PC peripherals and other devices, and it's made some very exciting strides in recent years. This year proves to be no exception as Razer kicks off its turn at the big show with a powerful new tool for gamers: the Razer Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) system.

The Razer OSVR is being described as the “Android of virtual reality,” so described for its attempt to unify the field of virtual reality (VR) and help get users a little better idea of what the concept can do. A combined effort between Razer and Sensics, a company that deals in VR, the system is specifically designed to try and get some standards into the field. It's not specifically an operating system, but rather a development system that helps get VR systems onto more devices by making it easier to develop for VR. So far, Razer's OSVR system works with games developed in Unity 3D and with the Unreal Engine 4 system, which is a substantial number of games in its own right.

The actual OSVR display, meanwhile, looks welcome enough; it's boasting a resolution of 1920 x 1080, making it fit for most any home theater application short of 4K streaming. It offers a 100-degree field of view, at last report, and refreshes at 60 frames per second, a rate that matches the Samsung Gear, though comes somewhat behind the Oculus Rift's current 75, or the optimal rate of 90. It's also specifically designed to be at least somewhat modular and ready for experimentation. The display can even be replaced with a mobile phone much in the same way the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Cardboard system work, though at last report, it's not easy to do that, represented by a process that involves the removal of five screws.

Some might here be thinking that the OSVR is going to be pitched to compete with the Oculus Rift, but that's not the case; at last report, Razer wants to make this the “new standard” to build on from there, and word suggests that Valve had a similar idea, even if it isn't really doing much with the idea. At least, not much that it's willing to talk about.

But here's where things get interesting: the market is a very strange field right now. None of the major models so far have emerged, and there's not even much news in the field about when one of these will actually roll out, aside from the occasional developer kit that's hit. But there are plenty of companies rapidly working on it, and it's a pretty fair bet that 2015 is going to be the year in which someone makes the jump from “coming soon” to “first-mover advantage.” While the OSVR's developer kit is set to hit this June—at a none-too-shabby price of $199-- it's going to come in just a little underpowered compared to the Oculus Rift's DK2, so that may leave people more waiting than anything else.

However, Razer's got a reasonably good name to its credit, and if it can improve on this version in the future, it's likely to get a pretty substantial slice of the market to go along with it. Only time will tell just how well it all goes, but the first system to hit the market at this rate is likely to be a winner for some time to come.

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