Varjo Aero Review

Varjo Aero Review

Published: 26-01-2022
Updated: 15-03-2023

With the launch of the Varjo Aero, Varjo taps into the PC VR prosumer market. Although still expensive, the Aero is more affordable than their flagship devices. This is mainly due to its limitation to VR, instead of adding XR capabilities. The headset is lightweight, comfortable and has great image fidelity. Varjo also added other key features from their flagship devices, such as foveated rendering, 200hz eye tracking and no need for a Varjo Base subscription. The Aero has the potential to be the best PC VR headset for professional use due to its specifications, premium design and comfort.

In this comprehensive Varjo Aero review we will take a deeper look at the following points:

  • Pros and cons
  • Specifications
  • What is in the box
  • Design and comfort
  • Ease of use
  • Power and Performance
  • Display
  • Tracking
  • Sound
  • Controllers
  • Price
  • Conclusion

Pros and cons of the Varjo Aero

ProsCons
High resolution of 2880 x 2720 pixels per eyeMore expensive than Pimax Vision 8K X
200Hz eye trackingNarrower Field of view (115°)
compared to HTC Vive Pro 2 (120°)
No Varjo Base subscription neededNeeds a powerful PC
SteamVR compatibility
Can be used with a laptop

Varjo Aero specifications

The Varjo Aero has the following specifications:

  • Display: Dual Mini LED LCD
  • Refresh rate: 72-90 Hz
  • Resolution: 2880 x 2720 pixels per eye
  • Field of view: 115 degrees
  • Weight: 717 grams (487 grams + headband 230 grams)
  • Material: Plastic
  • Tracking: SteamVR tracking: 2 base stations for standing operation, 4 base stations for moving operation
  • Controllers: SteamVR controllers

What is in the box

The Varjo Aero comes in a sleek black box with the Varjo logo on top. All the items are packaged in an orderly manner, with logic in mind.

The following items can be found in the box:

  • Varjo Aero headset
  • VR adapter (with USB 3.1 Type A and DisplayPort 1.4 connection)
  • USB-C cable
  • Power adapter with 6 different power plugs (EU, UK, US, AUS, KOR, CHN)
  • In-ear headphones with microphone
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Quick start guide

Design and comfort

Varjo’s design of the Aero looks similar to other devices of the Finnish XR manufacturer. It is a well put together device with a glossy plastic front plate. The rest of the headset is made out of matte black plastic.

Varjo has done an excellent job at building a high quality device. The headband feels sturdy and the position of the headband can easily be adjusted by the adjustable knobs on the back and top of the device. The headband can also tilt up or down by adjusting the rotary switches on the side of the headband.

The placement of the components was carefully thought about by Varjo. The device has a very balanced weight distribution and is also lighter than the HTC Vive Pro 2 (850 grams), which is noticeable when wearing the headset for extended periods of time.

VR Expert Varjo Aero Side
VR Expert HTC Vive Pro 2 sideview

The USB-C port and cable which connects to the VR adapter (which is plugged into the pc) is located on the top left of the headset. The cable is then neatly tucked away in two seperate clips, one at the side and one at the back of the headband. This way, the cable does not interfere while using the Aero.

The Aero’s face cover is made out of a soft PU (PolyUrethane) material. This ensures that sweat is not absorbed into the mask, not only is this more hygienic but it also makes it easier to clean. The face cover of the Aero is connected to the headset by a velcro strip that covers the whole face cover. Which makes it easy to attach and replace.

Eye relief adjustment (IPD) is done automatically when putting on the headset. This can also be set manually by pressing the menu button on the right side of the headset. Eye tracking and IPD will then be adjusted by staring into a dot on the screen.

Ease of use

Setting up the Varjo Aero is not as easy as just turning the device on. First, the Varjo Base software needs to be downloaded and installed on a PC capable of running the Varjo Aero (see ‘Power and Performance’). Within the Varjo Base software, you will need to either create or log in with your Varjo account. This license is included when buying the Varjo Aero. After that, the headset can be connected.

A USB-C cable connects to the Aero on one end and to the VR adapter on the other end. The VR adapter connects to the PC via DisplayPort 1.4 and USB 3.1 type A. The adapter also needs DC power through the adapter included in the box. Sometimes, when connecting the USB-C cable to the VR adapter, the Aero will not show on the Varjo Base software. When this happens, the USB-C cable needs to be plugged out of the VR adapter and plugged in again. 

For tracking, SteamVR base stations are needed. For stationary use (3DoF), 2 base stations are needed. For moving use (6DoF), 4 base stations are required. Setting up tracking is done through the SteamVR application.

VR Expert - 3DoF vs 6DoF

The SteamVR controllers also connect via the SteamVR application. An easy to follow explainer pops up when starting to process. Thus, pairing and connecting controllers is not that hard.

Setting up and using the Varjo Aero is not a matter of plug and play. However, the guides and explainers within the software makes it easy to follow and easily operable. Setup can be completed in around half an hour.

Power and performance

The Varjo Aero is a power-hungry PC VR headset. Its minimum and recommended PC specifications are very high compared to other PC VR headsets. A PC to use the Varjo Aero needs at least Windows 10, an Intel i5 or Ryzen 5 processor. 8GB of RAM, although we recommend 16GB. The GPU that is needed is a RTX 3050/2060 minimum or a RTX 3070/2080 for recommended specifications. 

These specifications are quite hefty, even for PC VR. However, to ensure smooth playback for the 90Hz and high resolution screen, these specifications are highly recommended for most applications.

VR Expert - Varjo Aero Back

Display

The Varjo Aero is equipped with a Dual Mini LED LCD screen with a resolution of 2880 x 2720 pixels per eye. This is higher than the resolution of the HTC Vive Pro 2 (2448 x 2448 pixels per eye), but lower than the resolution of the Pimax Vision 8K X (3840 x 2160 pixels per eye). The displays of the Aero have a brightness of 115 nits, a color coverage of 99% sRGB and automatic IPD adjustment.

The Aero’s field of view of 115 degrees is narrow in comparison to the HTC Vive Pro 2 (120 degrees) and Pimax Vision 8K X (150 degrees). A larger field of view always means a more realistic and immersive VR experience. 

The Varjo Aero has a refresh rate of 90Hz. This is the industry average. The Pimax Vision 8K X has the same refresh rate. However, this refresh rate is lower than the refresh rate of the HTC Vive Pro 2, which has a 120Hz refresh rate. In general, it is believed that a refresh rate of 72Hz is sufficient to provide a pleasant virtual reality experience. With 90Hz, the Varjo Aero complies with this statement.

Tracking

The Varjo Aero uses SteamVR controllers and base stations for tracking. As mentioned before, stationary use (3DoF) requires 2 base stations, while moving use (6DoF) requires 4 base stations. 6DoF allows the user to freely walk around in their playing area.

Because the Aero uses SteamVR peripherals for its tracking, the tracking capabilities of the Pimax Vision 8K X and HTC Vive Pro 2 will be similar to the Aero’s tracking.

The biggest differentiator compared to the competition is the excellent 200 Hz eye tracking, which is built into the Varjo Aero.  The eye tacking can collect important information about the user’s activities. This is very useful for training, experience analysis or marketing purposes. In addition, the eye tracking enables foveated rendering.

VR Expert - Base Stations 2.0

Sound

The audio capabilities of the Varjo Aero are quite limited. The Aero does not have built-in speakers. It does support a 3.5mm headphone jack, however. Included in the box are headphones with a built-in microphone. These can be used with the Aero in order to get audio while using the device.

Another possibility for audio is to connect wireless headphones to the PC via bluetooth. Then, the audio output needs to be changed to these headphones within Windows. This way, wireless audio can also be used alongside the Aero.

Controllers

The Varjo Aero supports SteamVR 1.0 and 2.0 controllers. These can be setup in the SteamVR menu, which can also be accessed by Varjo Base. For our test, we used the HTC Vive 2.0 controllers. 

VR Expert - SteamVR Controllers Aero

The HTC controllers are easy to pair with SteamVR. However, they are not the most ergonomic. The controllers just do not fit a hand very naturally.

On the front, they have a trackpad and two menu buttons. On the back there is a trigger. There are also two buttons located on the side of the controller. These are very hard to reach and use. However, these buttons are rarely used within applications.

Price

The price of the Varjo Aero is currently at 1990 Euros. This is more expensive than both the HTC Vive Pro 2 (890 Euros) and the Pimax Vision 8K X (1150 Euros). 

Additional costs of the base stations and controllers also have to be kept in mind, as this adds drastically to the total cost. An advantage to other Varjo headsets is that the Varjo Base software is included in the price. This is a license without an expiration date, with the XR-3 and VR-3 needing a yearly subscription to use.

VR Expert - Varjo Aero Hero Image

Conclusion

In this Varjo Aero review we can conclude that the Aero is another top device from the Finnish VR manufacturer. This time, aiming more at the prosumer market. The overall great optics with amazing colors, a wide field of view and superb resolution make for an immersive and realistic experience. The compatibility with SteamVR makes using the Aero very accessible, as accessories such as base stations and controllers are widely available.

Compared to the HTC Vive Pro 2 and Pimax Vision 8K X, the Aero gives us a more premium impression. The headset is well built and comfortable when using for a longer period of time.

The downsides of the Aero are neglectable. The fact that a high-end PC is needed to use the Aero makes sense. First time set-up can be complicated. However, when taking your time, it should not bring any problems.

Of course, the Aero’s appearance makes it an excellent device for professional use.

Also listen now to our podcast with Urho Konttori, Founder and CTO of Varjo.

Specifications

Varjo Aero

HTC Vive Pro 2

Pimax 8K X

Price

1990 €

890 €

1150 €

Display

Dual Mini LED LCD

Dual LCD

Dual CLPL

Resolution

2880×2720 pixels per eye

2448×2448 pixels per eye

3840×2160 pixels per eye

Refresh rate

90 Hz

120 Hz

90 Hz

Field of view

115 degrees horizontal

120 degrees horizontal

150 degrees horizontal

Weight

717 grams

850 grams

850 grams

Tracking

SteamVR tracking (marker based) +
eye tracking

SteamVR tracking (marker based)

SteamVR tracking (marker based)