AMD may be best known for its value-oriented processors and graphics cards, but it seems that the company wants to be a part of the virtual reality race. Canadian-based startup Sulon has recently announced an AMD-powered headset called Sulon Q, claiming it is "the world’s first and only all-in-one headset" for "virtual reality, augmented reality, and spatial computing."
What is interesting about the new headset is that it doesn't require tethering to a PC like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, as it is essentially a Windows 10 PC that you can strap onto your head. It is powered by a quad-core AMD FX-8800P processor with a 35W TDP and 8 Radeon R7 graphics cores, leveraging AMD's GCN architecture.
It's nice to see a VR headset that doesn't require investing in a powerful PC in order to work, unlike the current crop of headsets. However, before you get too excited, Sulon claims "console-quality graphics", but keep in mind that this headset has to drive a 2560 by 1440 OLED display, a resolution almost 30% higher than that of wired headsets, which require a high-end gaming PC to drive their displays.
Other than the specs mentioned above, the headset features 8 GB of DDR3L RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage, which - along with the CPU and GPU - are low end by VR standards. Developers can, however, tap into the power of DirectX 12, Vulkan, and AMD's LiquidVR APIs to squeeze the most out of it. Connectivity-wise, there are 2 USB 3.0 Type A ports, a microHDMI out, Wifi 802.11n/ac, and Bluetooth 4.0.
A claim that is definitely impressive is that the Sulon Q offers a 110 degree field of view, but we don't know whether the measurement was horizontal or diagonal. It is also meant to be an AR headset, and judging from the demo video below, it might have a wider field of view compared to Microsoft's Hololens Developer Edition:
Another thing to like about the Sulon Q (at least on paper) is that it is supposed to offer "Spatial computing" with Windows 10, by virtue of an app called "Project Dargon" that uses a dedicated "Spatial Processing Unit" and the integrated tracking hardware to create safe and seamless virtual experiences.
Regarding price and availability, the Sulon Q headset is slated for a "late spring" launch, and there's no word on price. However, judging by the fact that the Oculus Rift costs $600 without taking the powerful PC it needs into the equation, we can probably expect a hefty price tag for the Sulon Q headset.
It may sound appealing to have a "tether-free" AR and VR 2-in-1 headset, but there are no details yet on exactly how heavy it is, how hot it gets when in use, how long the battery lasts, and whether or not performance is good enough to make the experience great. We'll just have to wait and see, but it looks at least mildly promising.