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The Status of VR Headsets in 2019: What Should You Buy?



  The Headset Oculus Rift S VR

For the past three years, virtual reality has not set the world on fire. Even so, with the new headsets that could have cracked the code for the needs of players, 2019 will be the best VR year ever.

After all, do you know how many people with a VR rig are on a room scale in their life room? Probably not many, and according to Statista, less than 5 million units were sold in 201

8. Obviously, VR is not the resounding success that some had hoped for when Oculus and HTC released their high-end, PC-connected headsets in 2016. That does not mean the party is over.

Is this the year you should be interested in VR? Let's take a look.

It's still Games

When we looked at VR headsets in 2018, the world was much more binary. There were some connected headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, as well as a bunch of mobile headsets that work in conjunction with a smartphone. A lot can change in a year, and the standalone headsets we've announced, which require neither a PC nor a phone, have arrived.

However, the core application case for VR has not changed in the last one or two years; It's still mostly about playing. Several attempts have been made to turn VR into more than just gaming platforms, e.g. Virtual VR desktops (such as Oculus Desktop and Virtual Desktop with multiple platforms) and cinema experiences. However, virtual desktops are awkward, and the video platforms are inferior to real home theaters at first sight. Why should you watch a movie in a headset – with a lower resolution and the effect of a net-like screen door that we see on most headsets – if you can see it in the real world with 4K instead?

That is, HTC is also trying to make room in the business, with two products for businesses. The HTC Vive Pro is an improvement over Vive's original graphics and is aimed directly at enterprise customers. This also applies to the forthcoming HTC Vive Focus, a stand-alone headset that does not need to be tied to a PC. These products are still in their infancy and it remains to be seen if there are enough industrial, academic and enterprise applications to gain a foothold in these markets. Most of the industry is currently dealing with consumers.

That means it's really about games. In this regard, VR provides a payoff that is rarely intoxicating. Ego games like Arizona Sunshine – a zombie shooter – are heartbreaking. In fact, they can be overwhelming for some players. There is a difference between a horror movie and a horror movie. Other games, however, are more attractive. For example, Final Assault enhances the real-time strategy genre to something Star Trek's all-powerful human-child Trelane would do to plastic toy soldiers.

  Battle simulation in the VR game Final Assault
Phaser Lock Interactive

Speaking of Star Trek, there are also simulators like Star Trek: Bridge Crew that allow you to take command of a spaceship (and which are as geektastic as it sounds). And then there's the realistic enough to smell the salt water. WW2 submarine simulator IronWolf VR. There are rhythm games, lightsaber games and light schwrhythm games. If you've been playing the 2D version of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, you'll need to play the VR version, where a player manages a bomb in VR while surrounded by team members in Meatspace to disarm them. And it's hard not to love ridiculously charming puzzles like Waddle Home. No matter what game you go into, do not be surprised if you're wearing a silly grin all the time in a VR environment – and the thrill does not fade over time.

  Bridge of a spaceship in the VR game Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Ubisoft

We wish there were more mainstream developers developing big, historic flagship games, but there is no shortage of gaming innovations thanks to numerous indie developers developing small games for different platforms.

Conclusion: VR games are not a one-trick pony, no gimmick or fad. You may be tired of a particular game, but the VR experience takes you backstage.

Paired headsets are getting cheaper and easier.

Why do not all have their own VR rigs? Well, there is little doubt that cost and complexity have hindered acceptance.

The "tethered" headsets that led the revolution in 2016 – the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift – suffered from high costs, but three years later, prices were moderate. Early users were willing to spend $ 798 on a full Rift package, or $ 799 on an HTC Vive, but the Oculus Rift S (upgrading to the original Rift) costs only $ 399.

  Oculus Rift S VR headset
Oculus

The HTC Vive, which is still essentially the same product released by HTC in 2016, also costs $ 499 after $ 799.

That's still a lot of money, and complexity is still an Achilles heel. Connected systems require powerful PCs with expensive graphics cards. Oculus requires an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or better, while HTC requires an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970. If you're already a gamer, you probably have a PC that meets these specifications, but it may be in a small room that does not suit VR – so you either have to bring it to the living room or buy a second PC , And for the Vive-VR in the room scale, you need to attach Tracker to the wall. Is it any wonder that acceptance is sluggish?

However, if you're committed to a better gaming experience with a headset attached, you'll feel relief. In the past year, Microsoft has partnered with traditional hardware partners such as Lenovo, HP and Samsung to launch its "Mixed Reality" headsets (which implies both VR and AR, but for the time being is just VR experiences). Interestingly enough, the HP VR1000-100 MR headset runs on a PC with integrated graphics, saving you hundreds of dollars on the PC it's connected to.

  VR Headset HP VR1000-100
HP

And if so Since HTC prefers the VR taste of the Vive, it finally released its Wi-Fi adapter in late 2018. Now you can get rid of the cables that connect the headset to the PC. It is liberating, but costs $ 299.

  HTC Vive VR headset with wireless adapter
HTC

Inside-out tracking simplifies VR

Another exciting innovation is the advent of so-called "inside-out" tracking.

Determining the orientation and position of a headset (engineers call this six degrees of freedom – or 6DOF) usually requires external trackers positioned in the room. Oculus places a pair of sensors in front of the field. HTC offers a pair of trackers called Lighthouses, which must be wall-mounted on either side of the play area. Both solutions are referred to as "outside-in" because external devices look into the playback area to keep an eye on the headset and controllers.

This year, however, we are beginning to see "inside-out". Headsets, and these are game changers. Placing a range of cameras on the headset to provide 6DOF without external hardware greatly simplifies initial setup and makes the headsets themselves much more portable.

The Oculus Rift S is such an inside-out headset that should be Available from the time this article was published. It sells for $ 399. And HTC is not far behind and prepares the upcoming HTC Vive Cosmos, which also waives lighthouses.

  HTC Vive Cosmos VR headset
HTC

Mobile headsets are still available for VR tourists

Until recently, VR had only two options: an expensive tethered system or a mobile headset that focuses on supported an inserted smartphone to deliver the goods. There is now a third option – standalone headsets – which we will access shortly. But before we get there, it's worth pointing out that mobile headsets are great value for money if you want to dip your toes into the VR Ocean, especially since you can do so for less than $ 100.

The gold standard for mobile headsets is probably the Samsung Gear VR, which supports a variety of Galaxy phones.

  Samsung Gear VR Headset
Samsung

If you are not a Samsung user, there are also options such as Google Daydream View that allow about a dozen handsets, including Pixel 2, Pixel 3, and LG models. ASUS and Huawei. Or, there are the Pansonite 3D VR and the MERGE VR, both of which are compatible with a wider selection of iPhones and Android phones and cost around $ 50.

These headsets rely on your phone for all of the processing and graphics work. Therefore, the content they display is much less complicated than with connected headsets. While the headsets know their orientation in space, they rely on a headset or handheld controller (standard on headsets such as Gear VR, Daydream View, and Pansonite) to help them navigate the VR environment. Even so, a mobile VR headset is a great way to get your feet wet.

And there's another mobile VR input work mentioned – Nintendo's Labo VR, which is refreshingly different. Maybe you saw Labo. It's a set of cardboard switch accessories that kids (or adults) can put together and put into switch gameplay.

  Nintendo Labo Cardboard VR Headset for the Switch
Nintendo

So you build a Put the Labo VR headset in the place where you would normally connect a smartphone. It's all bizarre (one of the headsets is in the shape of an elephant, the other is a bird) and there are accessories like blasters and cameras that you use in short multiplayer games by alternating with the headset. In the end, nobody (children or adults) will spend hours hungry to play with the Labo VR, but it's a surprisingly engaging introduction to VR.

Standalone Headsets May Be the Sweet Spot

New to the VR universe in 2019 is the increasing availability of stand-alone VR headsets – models that do not require a PC or phone connection because all the electronics in the headset located. It's the logical next step in the development of VR and possibly the version of VR that brings a virtual reality headset into every living room.

One of the first stand-alone headsets was the Oculus Go Starting at $ 200, this is a cost-effective way to test a higher-quality VR experience than you can with mobile headsets without the cost and complexity of a connected system , As with mobile headsets, the Go is not a headset on a room scale. You can not move freely in a large room to interact with your VR universe.

  Oculus Go VR headset
Oculus

But that's just the beginning. It looks like the future of VR could be stand-alone headsets with inside-out tracking – eliminating the need for a PC and eliminating the need for permanent trackers. Powerful high-fidelity VRs that are easy to set up and deliver completely portable sounds, and such devices can be found here. The Lenovo Mirage Solo, priced at $ 400, includes inside-out tracking and is already available.

Oculus Quest is a similar inside-out headset, available from $ 399. These could turn out to be the headsets we've all been waiting for, supplanting the connected VR systems in the coming years.

  Oculus Quest VR headset
Oculus

It's a VR world

With so many things in the VR space, there are many innovations, and we see headsets turning into products that are more suitable for the average consumer make sense for early adopters – inside-out tracking that allows movement in space, stand-alone headsets that do not require a PC, or smartphones and smart innovations at any price.

While this does not guarantee VR's success at home, VR probably will not go anywhere. We are developing an appetite for VR, as evidenced by pop-up VR experiences in shopping malls and entertainment centers across the country. Dreamscape, for example, offers a handful of interactive VR adventures in Southern California with plans to introduce more locations later this year.

  Simulation of the Virtual Reality of Extraterrestrial Dinosaurs
Dreamscape

The Void is another VR experience in over a dozen places with interactive experiences based on such valuable intellectual property as Star Wars, Ghostbusters and Wreck-It Ralph based. And game rooms and arcades feature regular VR games with Oculus or Vive systems, which you can borrow for a few (expensive) tokens.

What you should do in 2019

As you can see, this is a turbulent time to open your eyes to a VR headset.

If you're looking to invest more than US $ 100 in the stir, then a mobile headset that's compatible with your smartphone is a good stopgap solution – especially if it includes a handheld controller. To move around the environment, the headset does not have to be held by hand.

However, if you are willing to make major investments, you should wait a few months to see how the dust deposits on the new products falling this year. There's no denying that self-contained headsets with inside-out tracking like the Oculus Quest feel like the future, but it may take more than a generation or two of those devices to get the graphics and performance to match the standard headset set , [19659003] If you can handle cable and PC system requirements in the meantime, there is much to say for more traditional connected headsets such as the Rift S and possibly even the upcoming ($ 999) Valve Index (included in the Inside-out tracking doubles) but promises much better resolution at a premium price). If you are interested in VR and have not yet bought a system, 2019 promises to be a convincing year.


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