Gravity Sketch has gained popularity through our VR application mainly because it offers a totally unique way of creating. Users can sketch spatially in 3D in a way that feels intuitive like 2D sketching. This has gone over well with users who have scant experience with classic CAD tools. Working in 3D from the onset is something many users have desired but have yet to achieve because of the challenging learning curve posed by most CAD tools.
We often get asked “what is the best headset for Gravity Sketch” and our answer is generally, “what are you looking to achieve with VR?” The reason we ask this is because there are lots of different ways to apply VR and 3D sketching to the design workflow.
Here in the studio, we have all major commercially available VR headsets. As a team, we have done a pretty extensive product review and each headset has different benefits. I’ll try and do my best to explain what we think of each that we recommend:
- Oculus Quest 2: The Quest 2 is an all in one solution, there are no cables or external tracking needed; it is essentially a mobile phone running a special Oculus Android OS. The resolution is on par with some of the best in class VR headsets. The onboard inside-out tracking is done through the four cameras on the front of the device; this tracking is extremely stable. The Quest 2 is a significant upgrade to the first generation Oculus Quest (which is no longer on sale). Compared to the original Quest, Quest 2 has a significant boost in resolution, comfort, processing power, and memory. The headset comes with controllers that feel a lot like an Xbox controller so it is familiar to many gamers. Quest 2 comes at an excellent starting price point ($299 for 64GB of storage).
The downsides are the battery life (1-2 hour), and some limitations in terms of performance (specs). To keep the experience as smooth as possible we dropped the quality of rendering and shadows. With the first Quest, creating very large sketches or loading large OBJ models caused the headset to underperform. However, Quest 2 has significantly higher memory, so larger 3D scenes will perform significantly better. To try and keep the experience as smooth as possible we optimized the quality of rendering.
This is a great entry product to VR as it is totally portable and requires no PC. If you have a PC with a powerful GPU you can connect the Quest 2 to your PC with Link, a USB C 3.0 cable and can to gain the full performance of the GPU. It’s a little front heavy compared to the Oculus Rift so long sessions with the Quest 2 can be a little tiring.
The flexibility of this device has made it the most widely used headset with our customers. Many buy a few for design reviews and presentations. Some design studios have one Quest per person similar to each designer having a Wacom tablet at their desk.
There is a growing second-hand market for the first Quest so if you are looking to get involved at a lower investment have look for a Quest gen one on eBay, we’ve seen them up for as low as $120.
The rest of the devices I will speak about are tethered meaning they all require a PC with pretty serious CPU & GPU specs, check out our recommended specs. If you are not a PC user and want to get a bit deeper into VR with one of the following headsets we suggest getting a Razer Blade gaming laptop. Our team members who primarily use MaSystem Requirements - PCc have the Razer Blade for VR.
- Oculus Rift S: This headset has inside out tracking with a five-camera system and the same controllers as the Quest. It is a step up from the Quest in terms of higher frames per second and better tracking stability. We suggest using this headset if you are primarily a desktop person and your headset will always be plugged in. What I like about this headset is that with a singular cable you can easily leave it plugged in all the time and treat it as a third monitor with the rest of my work setup. You will need to run the Oculus software to access the drivers and launch any experience. The challenge for some enterprise customers here is that everything is purchased and set up through Oculus which is owned and operated by Facebook, a lot of large enterprise customs can not use Facebook products on site.
- HP Reverb G2: This is the best Windows Mixed Reality headset available. The resolution is great and controllers are pretty close to the Oculus controller which makes it quite easy to use. It has a four-camera tracking system similar to the Oculus products. This headset can run through Steam VR or directly through Windows 10 which is enterprise-ready. Many of our enterprise customers prefer to work from Windows only. If you plan to use VR for realistic visualization as well as 3D creation this could be a great solution.
- Valve Index: This is the best gaming VR headset out hands down. The specs are incredible in teams of tracking and FPS. The build quality of the headset itself feels far superior to any headset on this list. The controllers are designed to offer a unique user experience. The tracking is outside in, there are two lighthouse tracking devices that need to be mounted in the space which you wish to use the headset within; this will provide room-scale tracking. The drivers and most experiences are accessed through Steam. This is a great headset for a studio with a permanent VR space. This headset can be used for any VR experience and has the option to boost the FPS for a dep immersive experience.
- HTC Vive Pro: The Vive Pro is a good all-around HMD, it provides reality good resolution, price point, and room-scale tracking. It runs on the same SteamVR tracking system as the Index. There isn’t much to fault here aside from the controllers, which are sort of like fat sticks with triggers. Here you also need a dedicated space to operate the VR experience so again this would be a device to use if it will remain set up permanently in one dedicated location.
- HTC Cosmos: This headset is HTC’s version of an inside-out tracking capable headset. The status is the same as the Oculus Rift S or HP Reverb G2. There isn’t much more to share here aside from the controllers which have an extra trigger on each hand similar to gaming controllers. we have one here in the office but only use it for testing builds to make sure they run smoothly on the device.
- Varjo VR-2: This headset has eye resolution quality displays so it is sort of the closest you can get to a realistic immersive experience. This headset runs on the same SteamVR tracking system so users will need to get the lighthouse tracking hardware from Steam as well as controllers. We only had one in the office to test and make sure Gravity Sketch was compatible. The company is targeting more simulation and tracing use cases for their hardware so it feels a bit overkill to use for 3D creation.
I personally use the Rift S at my desk and the Quest for all demos and when I travel to meet customers these two devices do not have the best resolution or optics but for 3D creation are the most flexible non-intrusive.
I’m keen to hear what you are using and how you find the useability of your device.