Varjo XR-4 Review: A Game-Changer in XR Accessibility or a High-End Short-Lived Innovation?

Varjo XR-4 Review: A Game-Changer in XR Accessibility or a High-End Short-Lived Innovation?

Published: 08-01-2024
Updated: 08-01-2024

The Finnish pioneer has unveiled its latest creation, the Varjo XR-4 headset, marking another step in its quest for ultra-realistic mixed reality experiences. This launch represents a significant achievement in the company’s journey, however, it also raises many questions about the headset’s broader market appeal and long-term relevance — all due to industry pace and shifting customer demands.

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Enterprise VR/AR with Competitive Pricing

Varjo is a leading provider of VR/AR hardware primarily focused on businesses. XR-4 was highly anticipated due to higher levels of realism, which goes unmatched by those found in consumer headsets. Varjo specifically serves the most demanding use cases, such as training simulations for pilots and design reviews for automobile companies, and prides itself on consistently pushing the boundaries of immersive technologies, reflected in catering to the premium segment.

And even though the premium segment, as usually, signals premium pricing, this is exactly the area of a significant change. Compared to the previous Varjo XR-3 at a cost of €6495, the base XR-4 model costs only €3990, which sets the device into comparison to HoloLens 2 at €3588 and VisionPro expected to be priced around the same number. Additionally, Varjo decided to get rid of the annual subscription fee of €1495 for XR-3 purchases. 

A Step Forward in Affordability and Features, Yet Ergonomic and Integration Challenges Remain

Many businesses are moving from using XR solely for innovation purposes to a broader use in workspaces. By making Varjo 4 slightly more affordable, companies gain the opportunity to start implementing mixed reality devices across the entire workforce, not just in specialized use cases.

Varjo’s headsets have dominated the high-end enterprise sector for a while now, but at such a high price, it shuts out a lot of potential buyers. Due to the lower price and simplifying the pricing structure, XR-4 will be able to reach a larger market and give more businesses the opportunity to begin working with XR, which they had been reluctant to until now. Customers no longer have to pay a software maintenance fee or separately buy Steam controllers or trackers.

Getting the hands of Varjo 4 is still expensive, but that is the price one pays for the most advanced passthrough features on the market. Thanks to the addition of auto-focus cameras on the XR-4 Focal Edition, these devices offer improved augmented reality performance, making them ideal for simulations that require precision in interaction with real-world objects. As opposed to the XR-3 Focal Edition, which costs around €17000, the XR-4 Focal Edition costs €9990.

High-end specifications are always impressive on paper, but with the widening of accessibility and application across industries, there will be a higher requirement to integrate into existing workflows, which may be too diverse for XR-4. Another concern is with the ergonomics and device’s significant weight. Depending on the use case, ease of use can be compromised. For industries that require prolonged use of headsets, any ergonomic shortcomings could lead to reduced adoption.

Bridging Professional and Consumer Markets – with Longevity Concerns

Overall, there is an interesting trend to observe with XR-4. While the device is getting more advanced impressive features, the price goes lower. This is obviously a model aiming at a high-end professional use. But as the market progresses towards a wider adoption of XR, Varjo is showing tendencies of opening up to the prosumer segment more, and showing interest in the consumer market. The company has established a consumer waitlist for the XR-4 series, indicating a move towards making their technology more accessible to individual users. This move could mark a new chapter in Varjo’s journey, potentially bringing their high-quality immersive experiences to a broader audience – and potentially lead to the release of headsets more focused on consumers.

While Varjo has become slightly more accessible, as with any high-end device, the XR-4 is still a considerable investment, and potential buyers might question its longevity. Will the headset continue to meet the standards over time, or will it become outdated in the competitor’s race that has become stronger than ever? Because such high-end devices are not just purchases, they are investments. In this case, buyers are not just acquiring a product; they are entering into a relationship with the technology and its ecosystem, and the XR-4 will have to withstand the rigor and the prospects for maintenance, upgrades, and support, especially when newer models with enhanced features could soon become the norm.

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Petra Palusova

Written by Petra Palusova

Petra Palusova is writer for the VRX blog with an affinity for all-things-XR. Architect, systems scientist specialized in XR and synthetic environments, Petra is currently active as a product design lead, advisor and researcher delivering best practices, communications and business strategies to technology companies building XR products and platforms. A true jack of all trades!

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