The Virtual Reality Headset Wars
VR isn't something new, it's been around for several years in various life cycles, lengthy development of devices like the Oculus Rift as well as things like Google's Cardboard and Samsung Gear opening the floodgates for anyone with a smartphone. The next step of evolution will further bring VR into the home with high end premium systems being able to run on PCs for lifelike virtual environments in your living room.
With the age of virtual reality firmly upon us (again) a wave of devices are scheduled for launch throughout 2016. Within the video game sphere the main players are gearing up for battle, read on for additional information which should help you choose a side to align yourself with.
Oculus Rift has probably commanded more headlines than any other VR system. First launched as a Kickstarter project and then acquired by Facebook for an absurd amount of money, Oculus Rift is one of the most exciting VR systems you'll find.
The system comprises a headset that's loaded with sensors, offering a display for each eye and integrated headphones. It comes with a camera to add more movement detection information and will initially ship with an Xbox One controller prior to the bespoke Oculus Touch controllers launching later in 2016. The biggest drawback for casual gamers is the fact you will need a high-spec PC to run Oculus Rift, which will further add to the hefty $840.00AUD price tag.
The result is a complete VR system and, from what we've seen so far, one that's capable of creating some amazing VR worlds and experiences. It's on pre-order, with the first units expected in April, although the demand means you'll be waiting until July if you order now. Oculus Rift is definitely in the premium VR category.
Checkout 30 games scheduled for release in 2016 as well as their comfort level HERE.
HTC Vive is different from other VR systems because it gives you freedom to roam around a room. While other VR systems will allow you some limited movement, HTC Vive uses lasers mounted on the wall to map your location and movement around the physical space, integrating this into the virtual space. That allows for freedom of movement that the other systems currently don't offer. The downside is that you'll also need a big enough play space to use it in that fashion so make sure your (wo)man cave has adequate area to wander.
The Vive headset integrates a multitude of sensors, presenting the slick visuals to your eyes and you'll have to (currently) wear additional headphones to complete the picture. There are again bespoke Vive hand controllers and the location of these are also mapped within the 3D space, offering plenty of versatility when it comes to control.
There are a whole hose of different environments within HTC Vive, from climbing Everest to maintenance of robots in a Portal-style setting the early previews and hands on impressions have been overwhelmingly positive. HTC has partnered with Valve (who own Steam and created a small title known as Half Life).
Pre-orders are now open and the headset will ship on 5 April. At present the HTC Vive is the most expensive VR option coming in at around $1,200.00AU, couple that with the requirement of a high end PC and you will be dropping some serious coin. Check out the 38 titles announced for the Vive HERE.
Once known as Project Morpheus, Sony's entry into VR has been conveniently renamed to Playstation VR. Standing on their own the Playstation VR isn't being presented as a complete VR system (like Oculus and Vive), but instead as an accessory to the PS4 console.
Playstation VR uses the same technologies as the other guys for the most part, but the biggest change is that your head movement will be tracked via the Playstation Camera in combination with your PS4 controller. Playstation VR removes alot of hurdles within the VR space mainly due to the fact that it is an accessory to an existing platform, removing the need and/or additional cost of purchasing a high end PC.
Playstation VR is priced at $549.00AUD and scheduled for release in October 2016. Check out all the current confirmed games list HERE.
The last product we will talk about come from the boys in green, Microsoft are bringing to the market a product that aims to blend high definition holograms into real world environments. Microsoft aren't just promoting this unique product as a gaming device but also as a tool to be used within the work place, in areas such as graphic design and engineering to name but a few applications.
The best example of some of the power behind Hololens is best viewed in the video above, seeing the users manipulate a Minecraft environment is jaw droppingly awesome. One of the best confirmed features is a device link which enables the user to hook up two devices together to share an experience for multiple users to view over the internet (which ties back into work based applications).
Alot of the details about the Hololens still remain a mystery but there are talks of a $3,000.00USD price point (ouch) for the unit, development kits will begin to ship from March 30th 2016.