Feature: Page (1) of 1 - 09/28/16

Headsets for Virtual and Augmented Reality

By www.VRGamerNet.com

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So you're ready for the VR Experience?  The first thing to do is select what VR system you are going to go with, so with that in mind here are the leading virtual and augmented reality headsets. Some are shipping, some not yet...

Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift (https://www.oculus.com/) is probably the first choice that comes to mind. Now owned by Facebook, the Oculus Rift is a high quality VR headset. According to Oculus, 'Its high refresh rate and low-persistence display work together with its custom optics system to provide incredible visual fidelity and an immersive, wide field of view.' By all accounts it is a first rate VR headset.

However with that in mind you need a fairly powerful PC to use it. At least an Intel i5 processor, but an i7 is best. You need at least 8 GB ram. And most importantly you need a very powerful, late generation graphic card. Their site recommends the NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD R9 290 equivalent or greater. You also need a compatible HDMI 1.3 video output, 3 USB 3.0 ports, plus a USB 2.0 port. 

If you are ordering directly from them the cost is $599.00. With the headset you also get a sensor, remote, cables, Xbox One controller, and one game, Lucky's Tale.  Rift is available now.

Oculus Touch

At the time of this writing the Oculus Touch controller is not yet available and its pricing hasn't been confirmed. However it is supposedly coming very soon.

Gear VR

Gear VR

The Samsung Gear VR is also available from the Oculus site (https://www.oculus.com/). Gear VR turns your Samsung smartphone into the VR screen. Compatible with the Galaxy S6 and S7 series as well as the Note 5 and Note 7 (but I wouldn't use current Note 7 models due to explosion risks). If you already have the phone you can get the Gear VR for $99. If you don't have the phone you can buy one and get the Gear VR for free. Gear VR is available now.

HTC Vive

HTC Vive

The HTC Vive (https://www.vive.com/us/) is $799.00. It is a tethered headset and for the $799 it includes the headset, two wireless controllers, two base stations, link box and earbuds, Those who order now will get The Gallery - Episode 1: Call of the Starseed, Tilt Brush, and Zombie Training Simulator for free.  According to HTC, "HD haptic feedback and intuitive gestures mean playing games and interacting with the virtual world comes naturally. Vive s two wireless controllers feature 24 sensors for unobstructed movement, meaning you can do more in VR than ever before."

PC requirements are similar to the Rift, except it will work with just 4 GB ram, and only needs one USB 2.0 (or greater) port.

With the Base Station you can move around the room and it knows your location. However be careful - you can't see whats in the real world around you! Many users will no doubt dedicate a more or less empty room for the Vive, which is a pretty good idea.

Playstation VR
Playstation VR

You wouldn't expect Sony to stay out of this and they haven't. The Playstation VR ($399) which will ship by mid October, is, like the Rift and Vive, a tethered headset. But this one uses the Playstation 4 to drive the games. That means no upgrading or buying a new PC or graphics card. If you have a PS4 your good to go, mostly. You will need Dualshock 4 gamepad and the PS Move motion controller. You will need to shell out another $50 or so for the Playstation Camera. Sony is promising dozens of games will be available at launch.


Google Cardboard
Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard is a real cheap way to try out VR. Like Gear VR it uses your smartphone and is just a cardboard viewer with lenses. But at $15 its a way to experience VR. Sort of anyway. 


Microsoft Hololens
Microsoft Hololens

Hololens is not VR, its AR, Augmented Reality. Augmented means it mixes the real world with the virtual world. Not yet shipping it's only available for developers at a price of $3000-$5000. 

Microsoft has shown impressive demos, ranging from game demos, Minecraft support and business and communication applications. Like Google Glass it is untethered, but no doubt will need a powerful PC or Xbox for serious applications and games. Assuming this doesn't go the way of Google Glass it could end up being the one with most wide spread use and applications. 

No specific ship date is available nor is a final price. But this is one to keep you eyes on.


Magic Leap

Magic leap is another AR Headset. Not yet available and very secretive, its a well funded AR/VR endeavor. They have amazing demos but you can't get one yet, there is no pricing yet and not even a photo. But we suspect its real.

Demos are worth seeing!


Apple VR

While Apple hasn't announced anything (yet) in the VR space they are known to have hired dozens, some say hundreds of people to work on VR.  Since they are not one to ignore emerging consumer tech markets, expect them to arrive on scene in 2017.

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