For a long time virtual reality seems to have been a unicorn on the horizon for content creators. It has been in view but seemingly fantastical. One of the side effects of the pandemic has been the greater reliance on the world of technology. We are now having meeting in Microsoft Teams and Zoom and feeling something like a muppet from The Muppet Show. This desire to meet more realistically in the virtual world has led to some companies seeking a VR solution. The consequence? VR is now moving forward at a rapid rate with giants like Facebook, with Oculus, and Sony, with Playstation VR (PSVR) taking the lead. It is also not surprising to hear that Apple is in the background too, on the verge of making their bid for a slice of the mixed reality pie.
Therefore, you might think it is time to get involved yourself and learn what is possible in virtual reality. But where do you possibly begin? With Oculus Rift, Good Daydream and more, there is now a whole load of hype to contend with that could lead you to spending thousands of pounds.
So, what should you buy? Here we offer you some basics to help get you started.
The basic piece of kit you need is the headset itself. This is a device that looks a lot like a thick pair of goggles that slip over the eyes. If you are willing to pay a little more, then these headsets will connect to your computer or smartphone and come with motion sensors and sound all built in.
If you go for a cheaper version headset, you will also need a decent pair of headphones and accessories such as hand controllers, etc. There are a host of other add ons you can buy that are intended to add to experience.
However, if you are happy to buy a high-end headset, then the sky is no limit to what you can get a hold of and enjoy. A market leader is the Oculus Rift. This was produced after a crowdfunding campaign but is now owned by Facebook – now that’s a rags to riches story and a half. To make the most of the Oculus you will need a pretty powerful PC – probably best to head over and check out the Alienware specs that are designed for high grade game play. Such a PC isn’t cheap, you are probably looking at around £2000.
The Oculus is the best option for those first coming to VR and with the backing of Facebook there is likely to be a wealth of content and social experiences on offer.
An alternative is the HTC Vive, which benefits from being connected to the Steam digital store. HTC and Oculus are direct competitors and only a handful of games cross the divide between the companies. Like the Rift, the Vive needs a pretty powerful computer for the full experience. The bonus with the Vive is that it comes with two hand controllers and is considered a much higher spec that the Oculus. If you are serious about entering the VR world then you might want to make the leap directly to this model.
A final starting point to VR could be the PSVR – the offer from Sony’s Playstation. It was launched in 2016, so there have been a good few years of evolution and refinement. The PSVR connects to your standard PS console and comes with controllers. Where PSVR is pioneering is in shared gaming experiences. The hope is that you will be able to virtually enter the same game as your friends and play together in co-op mode. Now, that is cool – and the price isn’t so bad here either. This is definitely the best option if you are buying it for gaming.
If you don’t want to pay big bucks – then the Samsung Gear VR could be a great starting point. It works with your smartphone and is a standalone device. The room for innovation in experience is smaller but it will give you a great idea if you enjoy the experience or not.
High quality earbuds
While a lot of the VR headsets come with built in speakers in the headband, you will still likely want to plug some earbuds in to complete the immersive experience. There are the 1More’s triple-driver earbuds which come with eight ear tips in different sizes. Choosing these buds allows you to find the best fit for you.
However, if you want noise cancelling, you may want to go for over the ear headphones. Remember the whole point of VR is to get lost in a different world, so you want the noise from this world to completely disappear.
A carry case
Your VR headset is a big piece of kit – and expensive too. Therefore, purchasing a durable carry case is probably more important than you think. The reason you might opt for the Oculus Quest 2 headset over others is because it is so portable and comes with the most amazing case, ready for your journeys to friends’ houses for games night. It is a hard shell and molded to the product – all in all – it feels nice.
If you opt for one of the other headsets, you will need to invest in such a case. The tech is too new and too expensive to risk anything else.
A spare power adaptor
Your headset will be power hungry. Imagine your phone and the little power bar sucking downwards as you try complex actions like videoing for any length of time. You would definitely have a power adaptor on standby with an extra boost of juice to keep you going. The same is true with your VR headset. The power required is significant and your desire to stay immersed in the world will be high. Therefore, getting an adaptor is a great solution.
To charge your headset and to connect some to your PC, you will need a USB C cable. Be careful to select the right cable that can handle the load. While most headsets come with cables there are higher quality ones that allow you to charge while you are playing – as they have a 10 foot range – which would do away with the need for a spare adaptor.