In virtual reality, you can swing a sword to the music, perform surgery or fly around the galaxy in a fighter jet. All you need is VR goggles or a helmet. We talk about the types of virtual reality devices and how to choose the right one.
Base Experience — VR Glasses
The easiest way to experience VR is with VR glasses and a smartphone. These are plastic lenses and a sheet of cardboard from which the box is assembled. Put your smartphone in a cardboard box, insert lenses into it, and you can start your journey. commonly referred to as Google Cardboard or Google’s box. This is not the only design, some manufacturers use plastic or aluminum for the case. These glasses do not have a strap, so you won’t be able to wear them for a long time.
They are easy to buy and are inexpensive.
Apple has not yet shown much interest in this kind of VR, and Android smartphones are becoming obsolete so quickly that even a two-year-old phone can no longer handle modern VR.
The most portable glasses are Google Cardboard, the same cardboard box for a smartphone. They can be folded and they will be no more than a school notebook. And when assembled, they are small, like a portable speaker. But you have to pay for simplicity with comfort: the glasses are uncomfortable.
The design implies either a single button or a hole to press directly on the screen and select menu options.
Xiaomi Mi VR toy is a vivid example of affordable glasses: a plastic case in a fabric case, a smartphone tray and a control button.
- Pros: affordable price. Simple VR glasses can be bought for 300‑1500 rubles.
- Cons: limited time of use, lack of interactive applications.
- Applications: Jaunt, VRSE (videos, documentaries), Google Cardboard, Youtube.
Intermediate — advanced VR glasses
Mid-range glasses are similar to the more fancy Google Boxes, but additionally include controllers, focus rings, and even separate screens.
The most popular model is Samsung’s Gear VR, but there are other models like Homido or Fibrum Pro.
Mid-range glasses can be attached with a head strap. This means that they can be worn longer and do not need to hold hands during use. In addition, these devices have their own app store. True, as with budget glasses, you will mostly be able to watch and not play. For example, VR Player for Android will allow you to watch and convert videos in 2D and 3D to VR format.
Glasses like Gear VR or LG 360 are only designed to work with the latest models of smartphones from the same companies.
In terms of control, Gear VR remains the most advanced so far, since there is a trackpad on the side of the glasses like on laptops. It can be swiped and pressed.
The catalog for these glasses includes games, videos, and augmented reality applications.
- Pros: Mid-range VR glasses combine the best features of affordable and expensive devices. Portable, wireless use, smartphone compatible. 3500 — 5000 rubles, this is the price range of such glasses.
- Cons: Lack of interactive applications, the possibility of dizziness. Lack of tracking position in space.
- Applications: Jaunt and VRSE (videos, documentaries), Google Cardboard (immersive 360° videos and interactive apps), Youtube, Incell VR (races in various locations), Sisters (multi-episode VR story).
Full VR helmets
The most expensive VR devices are helmets. They are designed for gaming and are used with additional accessories (cameras, microphones, interactive controllers). The VR helmet, depending on its version, provides the highest possible graphics and blocks out the light in a quality manner. These helmets have a high resolution screen, are comfortable, can be fixed on the head and are adjustable in size.
You can play by moving around its axis, but for a full-fledged experience, free space is required, at least 2x2 meters.
Management is carried out using controllers, and each model has its own. Oculus, for example, comes with an Xbox controller, while PS has them included with the set-top box. But the main advantage is motion controllers with which you can play virtual tennis or golf. It’s Oculus touch or PlayStation Move. And Sony even introduced a prototype palm-tracking controller in May of this year.
The most popular are Oculus series helmets: Rift S and Quest 2, HTC Vive Pro and Vive Cosmos and PSVR. Choosing the right one is depending on the device on which you are going to play.
PS VR works with PlayStation 4 and will be compatible with PS 5. Such a helmet costs from 25 thousand.
There are quite a few PS VR exclusives: short releases from PlayStation VR Worlds, narrative game Deracine, shooter game Farpoint specially designed for the Aim controller in the form of a rifle, horror Resident Evil 7 and many others.
You can play Half Life: Alyx (first-person shooter), Walking Dead (horror), LA Noire (detective), Star Wars Squadrons (flight simulator) and a huge number of other games with a helmet on your PC. The price of such helmets starts from 45 thousand rubles.
Oculus Quest 2 is in a league of its own. This helmet does not need a PC, although it works with one. The whole system is built into it, and all you need to use it is a smartphone, an appropriate application and a Facebook account.
The helmet has 3 degrees of freedom, which means that you can rotate around yourself, but you can’t walk and sit down. The screen resolution of Quest 2 is Full HD. For comparison, the Chinese counterpart Pico G2 offers 4K. Among these glasses is the HTC Vive Focus Plus, which supports 5G and is equipped with 6DoF controllers, that is, those that provide movement in three-dimensional space. Oculus Quest costs 50 — 60 thousand, depending on the size of the drive: 64 GB or 256 GB.
The helmet has a dedicated app store. You can play BeatSaber (arcade), Superhot (shooter) and other games without a computer.
What characteristics should a helmet have?
All standalone and PC helmets have several options.
- Resolution: the better, the higher it is.
- Built-in headphones: optional. It all depends on how high quality sound you prefer. More often than not, gaming headphones sound better.
- Image Frequency: Again, the higher the frequency, the smoother the image will be.
- A selection of additional accessories.
- Wearing comfort: It is best to try the helmet in the club and evaluate according to your own preferences.
For each type of device, there is only one possible option: for a PC, this is an expensive helmet, for the PlayStation console, this is a PS VR kit, and for a smartphone, glasses are suitable.
At the same time, the most advanced models: HTC Vive Pro Eye or Pimax 5K Plus are designed more for developers and artists.