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Lynx-R1: Price hike signals shift to business focus

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In a surprising twist, Lynx, the company behind the Lynx-R1 headset, has announced a significant price increase to $1300 as it pivots its focus back to the business sector. This move comes after an earlier shift toward consumers via a Kickstarter campaign, but the company now aims to return to its roots. In this article, we delve into the details of this decision, the features of the Lynx-R1 headset, and how it stacks up against its competitors.

A Quick Overview

The Lynx-R1 headset boasts color passthrough mixed reality and hand tracking capabilities, making it a unique player in the VR headset market. Equipped with high-resolution cameras and an open periphery design, it runs on a modified version of Android and supports OpenXR content.

Originally designed for businesses, the headset was announced in 2020 with a hefty $1500 price tag. However, in 2021, the company opted for a radical strategy shift, reducing the price significantly by removing eye tracking. The goal was to target consumers with a more affordable price point, aiming for “a few hundred dollars” via a Kickstarter campaign.

Business as the Primary Target

In a recent YouTube livestream and summarizing blog post, Stan Larroque, the startup’s founder, attributed the price increase to escalating manufacturing costs and the need to achieve profitability with relatively low sales volume. The pivot aims to “primarily target” businesses once again, a sector that Lynx claims has represented the majority of its buyers all along.

Existing Kickstarter backers and preorders will still receive their headsets at the original price they paid, as Lynx assures. However, the company has announced that the price for new orders will soon surge to $1300.

Microphone Issues

While the Lynx-R1 has started shipping, some early backers have encountered issues with the headset’s microphone. In an email to its backers, the company acknowledged these issues, mentioning “esthetic damages on the faceplate and non-functional microphones.” Nonetheless, they promised a “free exchange option” for affected customers in Q1 2024.

Technical Specifications

The Lynx-R1 headset boasts dual 1600×1600 LCD panels and is powered by the first-generation Snapdragon XR2 chip, which is also used in Quest 2 and Pico 4. Originally scheduled to ship in April 2022, the headset faced four announced delays before finally starting to ship in August this year.

One of the standout features of the Lynx-R1 is its color passthrough mixed reality, a feature that could have made it a major player in the consumer market had it shipped on time. Unfortunately, it was beaten to the market by Meta’s Quest Pro. Furthermore, with Quest 3, equipped with a chipset twice as powerful as Lynx-R1, and priced at just $500, Lynx’s consumer appeal dwindled.

Why Businesses Might Still Prefer Lynx-R1

However, even with the new $1300 price tag, Lynx believes it has something unique to offer to businesses. The headset’s open periphery design and balanced construction with a rear battery may make it more appealing for businesses than Quest 3. Additionally, the Lynx-R1’s higher quality passthrough mixed reality could provide a competitive edge over Quest Pro.

Delayed Controllers

Lynx has also been working on its own optional tracked controllers, originally slated to ship to Kickstarter backers concurrently with the headset. Nevertheless, the startup has encountered delays and had to redesign these controllers “to enhance accuracy and versatility.” The revised schedule now aims to ship them in Q3 2024.

A Changing Landscape

The Lynx-R1 headset’s journey from a high-priced business solution to an affordable consumer option and back to a business-focused product highlights the challenges faced by startups in the competitive VR market. While the headset’s price increase may deter some potential consumers, Lynx believes its unique features and quality will still make it an attractive choice for businesses.

As the VR industry continues to evolve, we’ll keep an eye on how Lynx’s shifting strategies and unique offerings position the Lynx-R1 headset in a market dominated by giants like Meta. It remains to be seen if the headset’s promise of high-quality mixed reality and its open periphery design will be enough to secure a foothold in the business sector.