Virtual reality is back baby – 2016 is all set to be the year when the likes of Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive Pre take VR mainstream. Virtual reality is an immersive experience in which your head movements are tracked in a three dimensional world, making it suited to games and even movies.
Explained: How does VR actually work?
While VR was a non-starter back in the 90s, developers are now creating mind-blowing experiences, which look set to revolutionise gaming and entertainment. But what are the best VR headsets and which one should you choose? We’ve created the definitive list of the most gob-smackingly awesome devices just waiting to be strapped to your bonce.
Of course, Oculus Rift is the virtual reality headset that started the current hysteria. Developed by Palmer Luckey, funded via Kickstarter and snapped up by Facebook for a cool $2 billion, the Rift plugs into your computer’s DVI and USB ports and tracks your head movements to provide 3D imagery to its stereo screens. Virtual reality is poised for a huge breakout in 2016 CES; we know this. The debut of Oculus Rift is imminent (and the latest version will be at CES), services (including Facebook) are already supporting 360-degree video and simpler viewers like Google Cardboard have whetted the appetite for immersive experiences.
It’s available to order now, with shipping expected in March 2016. The Oculus Touch controllers have been delayed until later in the year, but you will get an Xbox One control pad in the box. Make sure you check out or round up of the best games for Oculus Rift. ($599, oculus.com)
Oculus Rift Price and Hardware at CES 2016
HTC Vive Pre
HTC unveiled the HTC Vive, a Steam VR headset made in a collaboration with Valve at MWC 2015 – and it’s due to hit the shops in April.
The HTC Vive Pre, to give it its full name, plugs into PCs and work with Valve’s mammoth gaming ecosystem. It packs 70 sensors and 360 degree head-tracking and offers a 90Hz refresh rate; the stat that’s key to keeping down latency. Elsewhere, there’s an accompanying “context aware controller”, so you can shoot, move and interact with elements in the virtual world. Check out our hands-on with the HTC Vive for more info.($TBC, htcvr.com)
Samsung Gear VR
Temple Run Is Now On The Samsung Gear VR.
Samsung’s entry into VR has delivered one of the best all-round and consumer friendly headsets on the market, albeit, with a restrictive walled garden that we’re becoming accustomed to with its wearable offerings.
The Gear VR, now available officially to consumers, is an Oculus Rift powered device that uses a Samsung Galaxy smartphone as its processor and display. The Galaxy handset simply slots in front of the lenses, into a Micro USB dock, and uses its Super AMOLED display as your screen.
It’s already added a host of games and a whole marketplace of VR video content called Milk VR. And if you want to try it out, just head to Samsung stores, museums and even hotel rooms for a taster.
In our Samsung Gear VR review, we said that “Samsung’s first VR headset is an awesome peek into the future of VR for the rest of us and we’re betting on Samsung to make good on its promise to get enough movies, games and VR experiences onto the Gear VR as possible.” ($99, samsung.com)
Sony PlayStation VR
Industry Leading Design
The PlayStation®VR headset was engineered to be balanced, comfortable, and completely adjustable. It’s designed to feel like it’s not there – keeping you free from distraction as you explore new gaming worlds.
Move With Purpose
The LEDs around the PlayStation®VR headset, on the DUALSHOCK 4 wireless controller, and the PlayStation®Move motion controller are tracked by the PlayStation®Camera, providing an incredibly precise capture of your natural movement in virtual space.
The price tag will be £349.99 in the UK and $399 in the US and the device has been hailed by the firm as “a transformative experience in gaming”. The technology will work with the PlayStation 4 console and it will immerse the headset wearer in 360-degree virtual worlds. Its launch comes in a big year for virtual reality with Facebook’s long-awaited Oculus Rift available in the US on 28 March for $599 and the HTC Vive released on 5 April for $799.
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