Virtual Reality Headsets – What is best for you?
When Steven Spielberg embraces a new type of technology to direct his latest blockbuster release, you know that it won’t be long before the technology in question bursts on to the cultural landscape of the everyman. In this case, with the release of ‘Ready Player One’ – an adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel of the same name – the legendary director has embraced virtual reality. The film sees people don virtual reality headsets to escape their gritty normality to enter the ‘OASIS’, a VR experience in which the users can be anything, or anyone, they want.
Virtual reality devices are by no means outwith the public consciousness, but they are yet to be found in every household, something which will happen in the future if the manufacturers continue their pursuit of technological perfection.
Whether you are an expert already, or a layman experiencing a device for the first time, there is already an array of products to sample.
Which fits best for you?
Pimax 8k VR Headsets
The world’s first 8k VR headset was remarkably funded by a Kickstarter campaign. From 5,946 backers there has been $4,236,618 raised for design, production, marketing, and distribution. As the headset is yet to be released it would be impossible to provide an immediate analysis of the device, but Pimax have claimed to have fixed one of the main issues with virtual reality headsets or virtual reality goggles – motion sickness. Early incarnations of VR devices were marred with imperfections, and the manufacturer reality meant that users started to feel sick as their eyes and ears were stimulated in a way that confused the user’s sense of balance and created a sense of vertigo and nausea.
A few chosen lucky few have had the opportunity to test out the Pimax, and although as you can see from the above image that it is bulky in appearance, all reviewers have pointed to its weight, with the general consensus being that the device is one of the lightest on the market for its size.
Pimax claims to have cracked 200-degree motion around the head of the user, and the reviewers all suggest this could be the next step forward in the new generation of headsets. Will normal users agree, we shall see.
The main unique selling point of Pimax has been the 8K resolution, and it would appear they were right to all their advertising eggs in this basket, as their USP seems to be without overestimation. One reputable reviewer that the resolution was “sharper than his samurai sword”.
Oculus Rift VR Headsets
Oculus have gained a leg-up on their competition as they have already managed to generate enough traction that their name has already become synonymous with VR headsets. While other manufacturers will undoubtedly need to have the words ‘virtual reality headset’ or the likes in the embryonic stages of their product development, Oculus doesn’t need it anymore. ‘Headset’ is indeed in there, but only with the addition of ‘Oculus Rift’ does the name get its sci-fi-esque feel. But is it any good?
The Rift has been on the market for around two years now, and has gained a reputation for having an impressive, extensive game and movie library. However, even though it had been dubbed as the future of entertainment, the problem of motion sickness continues to exist. At a price of £399 retail, it may not be the most expensive headset out there (or the cheapest) but this comes as a bit of a red herring as users need to have a PC capable of virtual reality embrace without crumbling under considerable power required.
Within the Oculus Rift box is your headset, two Oculus Sensors, two Touch controllers, seven free VR apps, and all the cables required for PC connection. While the upcoming Pimax 8k may blow the Oculus out of the water, it, in turn, blows Playstation VR and the likes of Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear Virtual Reality.
Playstation VR Headsets
Naturally, with any console-based VR headset compared to one which is run from a PC, you surrender significant power and specs, which inevitably hampers the all-round experience of VR. The PS4 VR collection is certainly cheaper than those which connect to a PC, such as the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive and, arguably, has a bigger collection of games to keep you entertained, but one has to wonder whether this hardware can truly deliver what gamers want out of a headset.
Do users want a limited kind of VR but with more or better games, or better VR but without the library of entertainment? Until certain technological console advancements are made, it might be best to stick to the PC. All we want is to play Resident Evil without feeling sick, folks!
HTC Vive VR Headsets
The Vive is much more expensive that the competing products from Playstation and Oculus, but HTC can get away with it as this is probably the best VR experience out there currently short of plugging into the Matrix. The usual problems apply such as the price, and the need for increased PC power, but if you are serious about embracing a new world through your headset then don’t do it without the best gear, as it might put you off the idea in the future. The headset if quite bulky, and you probably won’t win any fashion awards wearing it on your napper, but for sitting in the house at the same time as walking around in a different universe, this is for you – if you have the means.
One major step ahead that the Vive enjoys ahead of Playstation and Oculus is that the latter two products use one motion tracking camera, while HTC has added two in their headset. You simply cannot underestimate the difference this brings. Think of it as taking as many pictures of a tin of soup as you can. More images makes for a better perspective compared to one singular image – it’s as simple as that.
ONN Virtual Reality Headsets
Like the Google Cardboard, and a host of other phone based headsets, you can pick one of these up form Amazon for less than £10, and all you have to do is stick your smartphone in the front and download the necessary apps.
It goes without saying that one should not use these to generate a definitive opinion on the use of virtual reality headsets, but for a tenner, why not give it a go?
So, with so many options out there for hardware, what’s the lay of the land in terms of software, games and education? Check out our post on how Virtual Reality is entering mainstream education – especially London based Virtual Reality Courses.