Virtual reality is hot. American VR startup Jaunt raised millions of dollars of investment, along with Disney, and others similar to them. Oculus (Rift) was bought by Facebook for two billion dollars, and big companies like Sony, Valve and HTC all have their own VR glasses/headsets.
The first VR headsets are already, so maybe it is time to look at the differences between the Virtual Reality Headsets. Do you have enough of a cardboard holder for your smartphone or is it wise to invest thousands of dollars in a VR headset and associated hardware?
The hardware looks amazing, the headset is comfortable, the motion sensor is unobtrusive and there are even speakers built into the headset. You can use the Rift to look around in 360 degrees, partly because there are motion sensors on the back of the VR goggles. The lenses make use of stereoscopy, in which two images are projected in order to create the illusion of depth.
But the Oculus Rift does have to overcome some obstacles. You’ll first need a giant powerful PC to play VR games, there are two screens in the Rift (1080 x 1200) which should both be controlled. Thus, you need a good VR video card. Oculus indicates that the recommended systems start from approximately (Oculus Rift price) 600 dollars without tax and shipping.
The Oculus Rift comes with an Xbox One controller; which is one of the weaknesses of the product.
What makes the HTC Vive so special, could be the biggest downfall of the product as well. You cannot just look around with these VR glasses, but you are invited to walk through a room.
The freedom to walk around makes this VR experience breathtaking and impressive, but on the other hand ensures problems. This technique is only for certain types of games, creating 3D artwork is impressive, but the ability to walk around adds little to many virtual reality games that are now available. There is a lot of space needed in your house to go for a walk with the HTC Vive, preferably with as few obstacles as possible in it.
The big advantage HTC has is that they develop together with Valve, the game company behind Half-Life, Portal series and Steam. Steam is by far the biggest platform to buy games for PC and therefore in a good position to convince its game developers to develop for the Vive. Not every game is suitable for every VR-headset.
To use this headset, you will also need an advanced computer, which most likely costs more than 1,000 dollars.
Yesterday we saw somebody posting a VR PC build list and prices. The budget PC costs around 709USD but you know it will be slow in a short matter of time. Medium budget VR PC goes for 1814USD and high end will be around 2651USD.
The Virtual Reality Headset from Sony (PS4 headset) is perhaps the most attractive VR goggle, previously called ‘Project Morpheus’ headset, looks like a futuristic helmet from Daft Punk. PlayStation VR has another big advantage: the VR glasses work with the PlayStation game console 4. The movements of the headset is detected by the PlayStation Eye camera, which ensures that you can look 360 degrees around you. The responsive time is good, though you can not walk around like the HTC Vive.
The technology used in Sony PlayStation VR differs a bit from the technology behind other VR headsets. The resolution is a little lower, 960 × 1080 pixels per eye and they use one display. In addition, the field of view in these glasses is lower. You will see an image of 100 degrees as opposed to 110 degrees that the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift have. You can the easily slide the screen up and down, this way you do not have to take off the glasses if you want something to eat or to just stare at another screen.
In contrast to the above virtual reality glasses the Freefly VR and other headsets are easy to use with your smartphone. Of course most headsets like ours are priced under 100USD which makes them more affordable.
It is obvious that the available apps, and those that will be developed are not the same since you need powerful pc’s for the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. You will always be limited to the apps that can be developed for smartphones, which does not mean that there aren’t awesome apps already on the market.
Another advantage is the portability of a wireless headset. Use it whenever and wherever you want. The possibilities are limitless.
We have already tried several apps with the Freefly VR and new apps emerge every day. Imagine traveling, virtual tourism, attending concerts, streaming live 360 music videos, 360 videos of a variety, using a VR headset for training, architecture and real estate development and sales.
There are still lots of differences between smartphone headsets, we use faux-leather for wearable comfort, 120° lenses (FOV). Just read our Virtual Reality Comparison Chart.
One thing is clear: there is a VR solution for everyone. HTC, Oculus, and Sony, as mentioned in the upper segment, are all three good headsets and bound to be successful. Oculus has unique content partners, HTC the gaming platform Steam and unique freedom to walk around in virtual reality and Sony PlayStation 4 as a gaming console.
But probably, most people will learn about VR with the entry-level segment. There is no reason to buy an expensive virtual reality headset if you only enjoy 360-degree videos.
The ideal VR headset does not exist. If you like serious gaming, you have to put down some serious money, because the VR goggles and the hardware will not be cheap. But just because you can use your smartphone for many VR experiences, the VR future is here for everybody.