Virtual Reality Device Round-Up

By Michael Rosa

Virtual reality is the next big consumer market. But since companies are just now starting to produce VR gear for a larger audience (and some equipment, like the PlayStation VR, hasn’t even been officially released yet), it’s hard to even know where to begin. That’s why we’re here.

We’ll compare and contrast the latest VR headsets hitting the market (from the lowest price to the highest), so you can decide which is right for you!

Google Cardboard

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Students in DMA’s virtual reality courses take home a Google Cardboard for continued practice in game design!

Price: $15 (or 2 for $25!)
Supported Platform: Most iOS and/or Android smart phones with screens 4 to 6 inches in size
Ideal for: The everyday consumer eager to dip a toe in the virtual reality experience

The Google Cardboard VR device is an ingenious setup made of folded cardboard with custom-designed, high-quality lenses. It allows anyone with access to a smartphone to experience the immersive visuals of virtual reality. It has an interactive click button which works with all compatible phones, and Google Cardboard assembles in three simple steps. Unfortunately, there’s no strap to secure Google Cardboard to the user’s head, and it’s instead held in place like a pair of binoculars.

Samsung Gear

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The Samsung Gear is great for an intermediate introduction into virtual reality, and Samsung was the first company to have its headset already available for the big VR presence at GDC this year! (Image: Samsung)

Price: $99.99
Supported Platforms: Currently the Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge and Galaxy S6 Edge+
Ideal for: Galaxy smartphone owners looking for a hands-free experience with mobile gaming

The Samsung Gear VR provides a versatile array of content (more than 200 games and apps) and automatically runs VR software when the phone is snapped into the device. However, because it doesn’t use a computer, the games can often lag. On the plus side, unlike Google Cardboard, the Samsung Gear can be strapped to the user’s head. And unlike the more expensive models listed below, it lacks a cord, so the user is free to look around without becoming distracted by a tangled cord.

Playstation VR

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The PlayStation VR is set to arrive in October. (Image: Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.)

Price: $499.99 Launch Bundle
Supported Platform: PlayStation 4 (with talks of PC support in the future!)
Ideal for: Console gamers ready to plug in and play

The PlayStation 4 console is a lot cheaper than buying a new gaming computer, so when all is said and done, the PlayStation VR will still be remarkably cheaper than what’s required for the higher-end PC VR sets. The PS4 creates a second-screen experience for other people to view on a TV screen. The headset will include a digital download of the “Playroom VR,” a bundle of six games that show off the new headset’s capabilities, but will have more than 50 games available at launch in October.

Oculus Rift

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DMA campers interested in virtual reality game development have the opportunity to create their own virtual worlds, then experience them with the Oculus Rift!

Price: $599
Supported Platform: High-end PC gaming computers
Ideal for: Those who wish to truly experience an alternate reality

The Oculus Rift offers incredible graphics and game play. Plus with top-of-the-line tracking sensors, it easily fools the user into thinking they’re actually in the world of whatever game they’re playing. However, this adds to its major drawback: Users are tethered in and have to use a standard two-handed game controller (i.e., Xbox One). Sure, you can reach out and try to touch that super shiny object in the game, but nothing will happen – causing a mental disconnect from game play.

HTC Vive

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Developed in partnership by HTC and Valve, HTC Vive was designed from the ground up for room-scale VR and allows true-to-life interaction. (Image: HTC Vive)

Cost: $799
Supported Platform: High-end PC gaming computers
Who it’s made for: PC gamers looking to shake things up with fully interactive game play

The HTC Vive was designed for game play on the gaming/social network Steam. It comes with two base stations that have to be mounted above the player, as well as shooting lasers, which are picked up by the headset to track movement. (Don’t worry. The lasers are invisible, so the cat won’t freak out and attack your head while you’re playing). The controllers appear as tools while in game (sports equipment, paintbrushes, weapons, etc.) and allow for natural movement and object manipulation while playing. Like the Oculus Rift, users are tethered to their game, which makes things a little tricky, considering all the movement-based games it has to offer.

EXPLORE VIRTUAL REALITY WITH US!

This summer is going to be the biggest and best of DMA’s 15-year history. Come check out VR with us, or any of our other cutting-edge tech camps – like 3D printing, wearable tech and much more!

The future is being discovered this summer at DMA!