VR Roundup: Immersion with a side of nausea!
It would be misleading to say that I am not a little bit skeptical about the releases of the new VR hardware just headed for this year. The success of a digital product or product line is strongly correlated with the rate of adoption that it has among consumers. If the price wall is too high to climb, many will wait or completely ignore the product. That creates pressure for hardware manufacturers to create the most innovative product at the cheapest consumer price while balancing all the digital content and profits to support the longevity of the product. Doesn’t sound like an easy decision does it? And there is the reason why some products simply don’t take flight.
If you can remember the release of the DVD player, they were plenty of consumers willing to wait until the $600 plus players came down in price. But overall it was a success as DVD and Blu-Ray players have replaced old VHS tapes, even if you still have nostalgic memories of the chunky, plastic boxers which I can only image litter than landfills of world now.
But for every success story, there are losers. If you are unfortunate to have bought a 3D TV, I feel for you. Laserdiscs probably seemed cool and the cassette tape won over the 8-Track.
Skepticism aside, I am still excited about these new motion sickness inducing technologies with the ability to immerse you even further into the digital world. And Today I’d like to give you the roundup of the 3 different VR solutions, what the costs are and what system you need to have ready to accommodate them.
Also for the record, I've included photos of the devices so you can see how they look on users. But let's be real here: No one is going to look flattering wearing this gizmos.
Price Tag: $799
Resolution: 2160x1200, 110 degrees field of view
System Requirements: So exact details have been scant but basically, you will want a system that can run 90 Frames/second without any fuss.
This article does a great job of breaking it down, but essentially: 90 FPS is the maximum rate that the VIVE will display, however the developers cite this as the minimum number of frames to maintain immersion.
Release Date: May 2016
This partnership between HTC and Valve has allowed the VIVE to support many Steam games. Being the first to market and having forged an alliance is certainly a strong win for this pricey contender.
Price Tag: $500
Resolution: 2160x1200, 110 degrees field of view
System Requirements: NVIDIA GTX970 or AMD R9 390 (or 290) or higher
Similar to VIVE, you will need a beefy GPU to run this, so before diving in, do your homework.
Release Date: Late March 2016
I wrote this article about what I am excited about the Oculus, but with similar System Requirements as the VIVE, I'm seeing alot of cross over between the two. As mentioned about, the partnership with Steam is really what sets these two apart.
Price Tag: $399
Resolution: 1920x1080, 100 degrees Field of View
System Requirements: a PS4, Playstation Camera ($60, sold separately)
Release Date: October 2016
While not as technically impressive as the other 2, Playstation VR is going to make one big impression on the console market as the sole VR solution for consoles. There are plenty of games ready for launch and this site details it for those interested. Although I feel that Sony missed some opportunities in regards to the game choices, but I suspect that it's largely out of Sony's hands.
At this point I burrowed deep into the troll thick and fan-boy laden news and I emerged alive and (relatively) whole to tell you my $.02 on the whole shebang.
If I had to pick a winner at this point, it’s not easy. But I will pick 2 instead for very different reasons. Why 2? Well let’s be honest here, as you know there are 2 types of videogame players out there. Those that enjoy gaming on their console and the PC enthusiasts. What differentiates these is not only the technical aspects but the platforms as well.
Winner 1: Sony
Sony nets a great win because they have entered the marketplace with a solid product. When I began doing my research I found that Sony's Playstation VR is in a category of it's own because hardcore PC gamers aren't going to buy a PS4 to use the VR and die-hard Playstation fans will not buy a high end PC to play either the VIVE or the Oculus.
With that being said, the Playstation VR, I believe, will be a huge success regardless of how good the VIVE and the Oculus perform in their respective categories. I could be completely wrong, but we aren't talking Apples to Apples when we consider the VR's competion.
Winner 2: Whoever wins the PC market
Yes, here's where the heavyweight fight is going to happen. The PC marketplace will be the main stage for battle and the blows will be exchanged in the form of pre-orders and units sold. Already the VIVE is looking strong with Valve's blessing and an earlier release date, but a heftier price tag. Will the $200 difference attract more to the Oculus? We will have to talk about this at this time next year before we begin to paint a clearer picture.
What do you think? Will we all have VR devices in our homes in 1 year? 2 years? 5 years? We shall see...