Virtual Reality… Are you ready for the VR experience?  Or maybe you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift. In either case, your options are growing fast.  With the new tech and software developed over the past year, there’s something for everyone and every budget.

Getting Started With VR

Google Cardboard


Whether you’re looking for a stocking stuffer or party diversion, Google Cardboard is a good place to start.  The simple brown viewer has inspired a wealth of new VR devices designed for your smartphone.  For only $14 to $70 USD, you can snap your phone into place and experience a 360 3-D world almost anywhere. Enjoy games, YouTube videos, and apps for news, travel, science, and up-close entertainment.  Hundreds of apps are available – even the Wall Street Journal and Guardian now have their own.

You can still get the original. Just assemble with a few simple folds and insert the lens along with your iOS or Android phone.  However, new independent models provide cushioning, visual adjustments, and accommodations for varying phone sizes.

Ultra portable-versions like the Pocket VR or Homido Mini hide unobtrusively in a pocket or purse.  Each folds away when not in use.  The Homido Mini’s lenses fold together onto each other for an even smaller overall carry size.


The New Viewmaster


The Viewmaster appeals to younger kids.  Remember those cardboard covered wheels you used to find in gift shops at places like Disneyland and Mammoth Cave?  The new VR version works with both iOS and Android to bring you hundreds of apps along with game and experience packs.

Your kids can help Batman save Gotham City or join He-Man to battle the evil Skeletor.  Solve puzzles with a friend to escape a mysterious labyrinth with game packs. Get to know dinosaurs up close, explore space, or dive deep underwater with a National Geographic experience pack.

Hands-Free Headsets


Higher end versions include the Homida and LG VR headsets.  Homida lets you snap your phone into a handsfree VR headset.  It provides a 100 degree 3D view, offers spherical 360 degree videos, and works with thousands of available apps.  The LG 360 VR connects to a LG G5 phone with a cable instead of snapping into the actual headset.  This allows you to navigate easily with your phone screen.  And the headset makes it possible to watch videos with surround sound.

Google’s soon to be released Daydream View works with the brand new Pixel phone.  Every buyer pre-ordering a phone will receive a code to redeem in exchange for the new VR device.  If you didn’t preorder, you’ll still be able to grab it for $79 in the Google store.  The simple cushioned headset comes with a 4-inch handheld wireless controller for precision tracking.


Gaining Speed and Control

For gamers, accuracy, speed, and serious graphics resolution are all high-value factors. Vive, Oculus Rift, and Playstation have the advantages here.  All three have fully adjustable eye fits and provide strong gaming and movie experiences.

PSVR


The Playstation VR, released in October, provides fast-moving Playstation games.  Stand up to tough London thugs, swim underwater with sharks, or fight in exciting space skirmishes. For Star Wars Battlefront fans, the Rogue One: X-wing VR Mission is now available complete with inspiring theme music.  The score combines newly composed orchestrations with parts of the original John Williams scores.  

View Angle: 100 deg
Refresh rate: 120 Hz, 90Hz
Resolution per eye – 960×1080
Works on Playstation

Oculus


Oculus Rift users are about to have the option of circular hand held touch controllers – called the oculus touch.  The new models are designed for intuitive action with buttons and thumb-sticks.  These are add-ons to the main package, which comes with a wireless x-box.

Field of view: 110 degrees
Refresh rate:  90 Hz
Resolution per eye: 1080 X 1200
Works with Windows

Viva la Vive


Jaguar recently used 66 connected Vive VR headsets to reveal its new 2018 I-Pace in a live event.  Ian Callum, director of design, introduced the new electric car in the live event in London and LA. (An app was released afterward to allow a peek into all the interior features.) 

The Vive VR headset is the jaguar of headsets, retailing for about $799 USD.  It’s the product of a partnership between HTC and Valve, the gaming software company that acquired Steam.  Vive users will appreciate Steam’s growing new line of VR games.  Hand-held controllers and base stations allow greater precision and free movement around the room. And the new TPCAST accessory now allows a totally wireless experience. So if you want to go underwater with Subnautica, kill aliens with cheesy one-liners in Serious Sam or experience speed and first-person demolition in Project cars, this is your headset.

Field of view: 110 degrees
Refresh rate:  90 Hz
Resolution per eye: 1080 X 1200
Works with Windows

Blending Digital Reality and Actual reality


The Microsoft Hololens augments your immediate physical world with holograms.  Imagine being able to turn any location into your own personal movie theatre with a projected hologram screen.  And what if you could make home repairs with floating instructions that followed you everywhere you went? … Or even better – what if you could share digital information both ways with a remote expert. You could diagnose and fix a simple appliance or plumbing problems with expert guidance from any location in the world.

The Hololens apparatus contains the entire computer operating system – so you don’t have to be hooked up to anything.  

Available only to developers at a hefty price of about $3000 each.

TV and Video

While phone apps offer Youtube in 360 3-D, more sophisticated entertainment is in development for higher-end headsets.

Oculus

Oculus’s Inception series provides unique opportunities to go behind the scenes in arts and entertainment.  Take a backstage tour of a musical on the London stage or see the inside of a famous musicians’ studio.  

Access the SyFy network’s upcoming new hybrid TV series “Halcyon.”  5 of the 15 episodes are designed for an interactive experience. You can watch the VR version on the Oculus Rift or Gear – designed for use with Samsung Galaxy, S6, and S7 phones.

Lightening Fast Drama

Director Doug Liman (director of The Bourne Identity) has a new VR Series with Jaunt And Conde’ Nast Entertainment.  Invisible features short 6-7 minute episodes with 360 degree 3-D shots.  The action-packed soap-opera style drama follows power-players in a New York family.  Their struggle for control depends on an inherited power to become invisible.

The Martian Experience

Vive and Playstation VR owners can now explore Mars thanks to the Innovation Lab at Twentieth Century Fox.  Handheld controllers allow players to jump into scenes of the award-winning movie, The Martian.  Players take action for survival in-character as astronaut Mark Watney.  This project crossing the bridge between cinema and gaming is available on Samsung’s Gear VR, Oculus’ Rift and the HTC Vive.

Still not sure what to get?  According a recent grassroots report, these were flying off the shelves last weekend – so hurry if you’re interested. It’s the perfect time to Deep Dive into VR.


1 Comment

Leave a Reply