Virtual reality in 2016 is a complicated place, and it can be hard to know where to begin. Unlike Google Cardboard, the company’s actual VR headset could let the user enter a virtual world without attaching to a PC or inserting their smartphone.
GUIDE TO VIRTUAL REALITY
There are plenty of people who would love to get going in virtual reality, or would at least love to understand a bit more about the products coming this year.
Google Cardboard is the least expensive way to dip your toe into virtual reality, as Cardboard viewers, which are designed to work with nearly any phone, can be purchased for around $20. You’re not going to run out of content anytime soon, and there are many things to do and see in Cardboard that are very enjoyable, especially if this is your first experience with virtual reality.
The Gear VR is a collaboration between Oculus and Samsung, but unlike Oculus’ flaship rift, this device doesn’t need a high-end PC graphics card. Gear VR is a product made by Samsung and Oculus to sell Samsung phones. That being said, it’s an amazing virtual reality experience. The Gear VR headset handles the head tracking, which creates a much more comfortable experience comparedto Cardboard. This new model now has an auxiliary USB-C port to keep your device charged while you play as well.
If you’re curious, it may be a good idea to get your pre-order in and then wait for reviews Oculus won’t be charging you until the hardware ships. The Touch controllers, which are true virtual reality controllers, will be shipping in the second half of the year, with no price set for the upgrade yet. The Rift ships with a headset, motion sensor, remote, and the necessary HDMI and USB cables. First Gen kits also include a wireless Xbox One controller and a copy of Lucky’s Tale for out-of-the-box gaming.
The tracking on the headset and the controllers feels close to flawless, which goes a long way to locking you into the virtual world. Valve and HTC are spending a good amount of time and effort on making sure you can move between the real and virtual worlds with minimal friction, and in many cases without removing the headset. This has great potential to eventually be used as a coop feature as well.
PlayStation VR developers, much like Gear VR developers, also have the luxury of aiming at a single hardware platform so they can spend more time optimizing each experience. PlayStation VR is a smart play by Sony for the mainstream, but until we have a set release date or price it’s hard to know how it will stack up to the Vive and Rift. The headset combines it impressive ergonomics with a sleek design as well.