Virtual Reality is taking over.
Brace yourself, the VR headsets are coming. From the Oculus Rift to Playstation VR to the HTV Vive, there are plenty of options for escaping to an alternate reality.
VR headsets are a device that tracks your head movements, which in turn changes what you see on the screen based on what’s in front of you. It creates a 360-degree experience which can make video games and even movies seem like you’re immersed in a new reality.
So what’s out there?
The Oculus Rift is the VR headset that seems to have started it all, and it can plug into your computer’s DVI and USB ports to give you access to your favorite games and movies. It’s low-latency tracking system means you can move through virtual reality without getting motion sick, and feeling like you’re actually there. The Touch controllers have an intuitive design and you can also join the Oculus community to connect with other Rift users around the world.
Here are the minimum specs you need on your computer for the Oculus Rift:
|Video Card||NVIDIA GTX 960 / AMD Radeon RX 470 or greater|
|CPU||Intel i3-6100 / AMD FX4350 or greater|
|Video Output||Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output|
|USB Ports||1x USB 3.0 port, plus 2x USB 2.0 ports|
|OS||Windows 8 or newer|
The Vive is brought to you by a partnership between HTC and Valve. The Vive boasts a 110-degree field of view, a 2160 x 1200 resolution, 90 Hz refresh rate for smooth motion. It also has a front-facing camera which means you can interact with a blend of your real and virtual worlds. Install two base stations in your room, and it will track your movements across the room in real time. In select cities, you can opt for white-glove installation of the system and base stations.
Here are the minimum specs you need on your computer for the HTC Vive:
|Video Card||NVIDIA GeForce™ GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon™ RX 480|
|CPU||Intel™ Core™ i5-4590 or AMD FX™ 8350, equivalent or better|
|Memory||4 GB RAM or more|
|Video Output||1x HDMI 1.4 port, or DisplayPort 1.2 or newer|
|USB Ports||1x USB 2.0 port or newer|
|OS||Windows™ 7 SP1, Windows™ 8.1 or later or Windows™ 10|
Image: HTC Vive
The Playstation VR is not quite as advanced as the Vive, but gives you access to all of the Playstation games you know and love. Bid as the VR headset for gamers, it has a 100-degree field of view, 1920 x 1080 resolution, and it works with your PS4 and DualShock Controller. If you already have the game system, all you need to purchase is the headset and the Playstation camera.
Samsung Gear VR
The Samsung Gear VR is quite accessible at $99. It uses Oculus technology to connect to your Samsung smartphone, so you can plug in most Samsung Galaxy phones and create a wireless, portable virtual reality device. Since it connects to your phone, you get enjoy apps for the Gear VR plus your normal favorites like Hulu or Netflix. Like the Rift, you can connect to a global network of other Gear VR users.
Works with Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy Note5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+
Google started out with their ultra affordable cardboard version of a VR headset, where for $15 you could fold a cardboard cutout into a virtual reality device. The Daydream takes this to the next level by providing a virtual reality experience that, like the Samsung Gear VR, pairs with your phone. The list of compatible phones is short as of this publication, limited to the Pixel and some Motorola models. More are on the horizon, however. What’s interesting about the Daydream is that the headset design is intended to be comfortable like everyday clothing, with a cloth exterior that seems similar to jersey cloth. The headset will come in 3 colors (only slate available as of this publication, with a heather gray and crimson red coming soon) and comes with a controller.
Naturally Microsoft would get in on the VR game. They take it to the next level, however, with mixed reality – advanced sensors collect information, map and understand the physical space you are in, to enable holographic computing. Not only does the device sense your surroundings, but it also brings in the use of holograms which you can interact and move freely with. It’s not quite ready for the mainstream though – Microsoft is hoping for developers to join their network of app builders – for a cool $3,000.