Virtual Reality has been well on its way to becoming a mainstream source of entertainment for some time now. In recent months, we’ve seen advancements in technology, and new devices come to market at unprecedented low prices, offering more affordable products to a much larger group of consumers.
But as the race continues between VR companies to bring the latest and greatest of devices to the public, some people are left a bit confused in the rising wave of selection. What is the best virtual reality system?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the (undated) release of two new headsets by HTC, the upcoming Spring release of the next headset by Oculus, and how to decide what the right VR system is for you.
But first …
If you want to know more about the History Of VR …
The history of virtual reality is a long and interesting one. If you haven’t read my latest VR articles, and want to learn more, you can find them here:
Why Oculus VR is the Leader of Virtual Reality Gaming This article will take you through the history of Oculus VR, and explain why they continue to be the industry leader in virtual reality gaming. Fun fact: Did you know that Oculus VR is owned by Facebook?
Oculus Rift vs Oculus Go This is a comparison article. While both products have great reviews and are no doubt worthy of your hard-earned money, the decision to buy one over the other lies in the debate of several factors, including setup, cost, mobility, and desired usage. Note that VR is not just for gaming, but for many types of experiences!
HTC Releases TWO New VR Headsets
HTC catches attention at CES2019
At an HTC press conference earlier this week, the company excitedly announced that it has not one, but two new headsets to kick off 2019.
Announced as the Vive Cosmos, and the Vive Pro Eye, these two (not yet available) headsets have already sparked a mix of excitement and confusion.
While everyone is left to wonder when the release date(s) may be, and at what cost these new devices will set us back, let’s review what information has been made public:
The tethered VR system for computers, and ???
HTC describes the Cosmos as comfortable, easy to set up, and… tethered but mobile? We’re led to believe that at first release the Cosmos will tether to a compatible computer, but in the future it may have the ability to tether to other platforms, including Smartphones.
With completely redesigned hand controllers (that look an awful lot like an upgraded Oculus design), and a headset with multiple tracking cameras, HTC states that the Cosmos will not require any external tracking. This means less hardware to set up, and possible usage on the go… if indeed it can connect to a power source other than your at-home PC.
One unique feature the Cosmos boasts is a flip up screen, allowing users to step back into reality without having to entirely remove the headset. Convenient?
Here are the characteristics highlighted on the VIVE website:
- out of the box hassle free set up
- new soft, light, and breathable design materials
- improved crystal-clear graphics with minimal SDE (screen door effect)
- all new VIVE tracking system
- flip up screen for fast in and out of VR transitions (need to take that phone call quick?)
- responsive full tracking hand controllers
One of the complaints by Vive users in the past, as seen in varied customer reviews, has been the design of the headset.
Many have stated that after wearing the headset for even a short period of time, it becomes heavy and uncomfortable. It seems as though HTC took this feedback into consideration with the remodeled lighter “crown” design.
Let’s take a peek at headset #2 …
Vive Pro Eye
An Advanced VR Device For Advanced VR Experiences
The magic is in the name.
The Pro Eye uses precision eye tracking technology that analyzes and immediately responds to a users eye movements. The users eyes become tools of instant communication, resulting in the fastest reaction times possible. For example, this enables users to lock on to their target the second the target is in sight… before the hand controller is even aimed at it!
As the name also suggests, this is professional grade.
Here are the characteristics highlighted on the VIVE website:
- newly designed ergonomic headset
- precision eye tracking by use of LED sensors
- enhanced optics that rank graphics among the sharpest on the market
- highest quality 3D spacial sound
- large scale tracking area (15 x 15 room scale) useful for multi-user VR usage
Now, let’s look at the headset that Oculus is releasing this year …
Due to the push of celebrity endorsed commercials throughout the Holiday season, Oculus has definitely made its brand known. The Oculus Go is the most affordable VR device on the market with some impressive stats to lend a favorable VR experience. While not the best choice for gaming, its mobility, and under $200 price tag, has brought this portable lightweight device into a lot of homes.
Those VR fans looking for more gaming power from Oculus have opted to stick with the Rift, which is their tethered device currently running about $350 including the necessary sensors and hand controls.
The Oculus Quest, long rumored to drop into stores this Spring, is supposedly going to provide the best features of the Rift and Go combined. What does this mean?
Here are the characteristics highlighted on the Oculus website:
- easy out of the box set up
- wireless – no cables, no PC, no external trackers
- Insight tracking that instantly reflects a user’s movements
- precision Oculus Touch contollers
- room scale for sitting, standing, multi-player usage
- starting at $399 (They’ve already released price info!)
Is HTC the Future of VR?
HTC May Be Broadening Its Target Market
The Spring release of both HTC Vive headsets and the Oculus Quest, brings the greatest advancements in VR to market to date. In anticipation, its clear that there are two different roads being taken here in respect to marketing tactics.
Oculus may have led the charge in the development of modern VR technology, and bringing the most affordable devices to the market, but HTC, with its high-end devices seems to be closing in on their share of the “affordable to the masses” market as well, with the introduction of the Cosmos. With no current cost information its hard to say if that’s the case, but one can assume. Why else release TWO headsets, right?
As for the Pro Eye, expect that to come with a ‘Pro’ cost. With never before seen capabilities, the Pro Eye is targeting the most serious of VR users. Even people that already own the Vive Pro may be looking to upgrade.
So, What’s The Best Virtual Reality System?
How To Decide What The Right VR System Is For You
Like all products, it depends on what you’re looking for.
First time VR enthusiasts will be more than happy to experience the movie, chat, concert, and other activities offered by the affordable and portable Oculus Go.
Those who want a more powerful, yet affordable, gaming experience will opt for the Oculus Rift.
Seasoned VR users, really enthusiastic newbies, and those who have already dabbled in headsets such as the Vive Pro, will be listening closely for the release date of the Vive Pro Eye. They’ll be happy to spend top dollar for the only available headset with eye tracking and “best display and audio.”
Besides cost, bells, whistles, and specs, entertainment options should be a deciding factor. Just as Xbox and PlayStation offer different game selections (some exclusive to the brand), HTC and Oculus have their own libraries.
Side note: VIVEPORT Infinity is a new unlimited subscription based service with access to hundreds of VR games and apps, and it’s currently available for both HTC and Oculus.
I’ll Leave You With This Recap …
On Vive’s website, the Cosmos is introduced as “a new premium PC VR system, and a vision of the virtual future.”
It’s described as a tethered device, but mobile. Understandably, some people are confused by the lack of detail in the usage of this new VR product. Possibly, it will be compatible with the Vive Wireless Adapter? We’re all waiting for future stats and cost point of this “expandable” device.
Here’s a quote from Vive’s website:
“The virtual universe is always expanding; VIVE Cosmos was designed to expand with it.”
The Pro Eye is HTC’s professional grade Vive device, and time will tell (through future customer reviews) if the new eye tracking technology is everything its promised to be, and worth your next house payment.
The Quest is referred to, on Oculus’ website, as the “first all-in-one gaming system built for virtual reality.” There’s no confusion here about mobility. The Quest is wireless; ready to play anytime, anywhere. With a starting price tag comparable to a new gaming console, this Oculus device is again geared toward the masses.
We may not know exactly what to expect yet from these three new headsets, but what we do know is definitely intriguing.
Why Oculus VR is the Leader of Virtual Reality Gaming This article will take you through the history of Oculus VR, and explain why they continue to be the industry leader in virtual reality gaming. (Is this changing with the expansion of Vive?)
Oculus Rift vs Oculus Go Wired, and designed for the most powerful gaming, OR mobile and designed with the best resolution for the most amazing graphics experiences?
We want to know …
Are you an HTC Vive fan, or an Oculus fan? Why?
Share your comments and questions below!
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