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Ask Slashdot: Best Virtual Reality Headsets? 141

Quantus347 writes: Straightforward question: I held off for a year to let the various manufacturers shake out the bugs, but now it's down to either a virtual-reality system or a new generation console. So I ask you, the Slashdot community, what are your personal experiences with any of the various VR systems out there? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What little things annoy you the most? What features make a given product the best (or worst) option? "Sprinkle us with wisdom from your mighty brain!" For reference, the HTC Vive costs $799.00, while the Oculus Rift with Oculus Touch motion controllers costs $598 (which is the price after the recent markdown from $799). These prices do not include the necessary hardware required to power each headset. The PlayStation VR ($399.99), Samsung Gear VR ($99.99), and Google Daydream View ($79.00) are also available for less moolah.
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Ask Slashdot: Best Virtual Reality Headsets?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Which ones don't rape your privacy?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That rules out at least the Oculus, which is owned by Facebook. Most likely some or all of the others too. Data on what you use VR for is commercially valuable, and you are sheep who will buy the device no matter how much data it phones home with.

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        It depends on how much you value your privacy. It's a reward versus risk thing and most people don't really value their privacy, at least not to a great extent. I look at all the info people voluntarily put on Facebook and realize that almost no one really obsessed about privacy like advocates try to make it seem.

  • Rift is better visually and comfort wise. Vive can have a larger play area and is easier to get the room scale tracking right on. There are no other real headsets. The rest are novelties.
    • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
      Forgot, rift also has better controls.
      • For having hand presence in VR I agree Touch is superior. However, when wielding a gun or sword type object the wands field more real/natural. Touch is exciting though because it lets you naturally do gestures which will add whole new levels to multiplayer communication.

        HTC has the tracker coming out so 3rd parties can make all kinds of cool controllers and Vive has demoed their "touch" prototype. I think having multiple controllers will give you the best overall experience.

    • Yep.Both are close enough that I'd probably make the choice on principle of not giving facebook any money. Still, if you seriously want one now, I'd try both first to see the ergonomics and image quality for yourself.

      I was really hyped about the Rift and then the Vive, exactly until the point they announced the EU prices. I might've been willing to jump in as an early adopter but not at almost a grand. If you can, I'd suggest to wait and see what happens.

      Nobody knows when the Rift/Vive mk2 will come out, bu

    • Rift supports Trump. That's enough reason for me to never buy one.
      • by TwoBit ( 515585 )

        One person out of a 200 person company is a Trump fan and you associate that with the entire product? Grow up.

    • Comfort-wise a smaller device like the Samsung J3 Emerge that I bought for $75 and an el cheapo plastic head-lens-box might be the best. It can also be wireless. There isn't very much in the way of peripheral vision, though.
  • I have both and.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by CptLoRes ( 4510239 ) on Saturday March 18, 2017 @09:15AM (#54064849)
    I have both the Rift and the Vive, and the Rift is collecting dust. Rift may have better ergonomics, but the Vive has a much higher 'just works out of the box' factor with better tracking and software. It is sadly also becoming a choice made on principle. The Rift was supposed to be the open system, but after the Facebook money they have turned into what is by far the most closed system of them all right now.
    • And Palmer Luckey gave Trump a shitload of money. So, fuck Oculus.
    • by TwoBit ( 515585 )

      I think while Vive has better tracking for large rooms, it's no better in the "just works out of the box" category. While the SteamVR store is more mature than the Oculus one, the actual runtime software is much better on the Rift. It has ASW and ATW and Vive has only partial ATW support, only for NVidia. As a result, software on Oculus runs smoother for any given machine. This is well known.

  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Saturday March 18, 2017 @09:34AM (#54064911)

    Seriously, it's too early. You're looking at first generation hardware across the board and not enough software support for any of the platforms to make it a long term compelling experience. If VR is truly getting established this time, a big 'if', then within three years you will have a worthless gadget that can't keep up. Everyone else will be on 3rd or 4th generation hardware with 2x - 4x the resolution and the software won't be compatible with your 1st gen stuff.

    If you absolutely want to drop the cash on this stuff now I'd say get a PS4 and a PSVR headset. It's the lowest cost of entry, is the easiest to set up, and you can be certain a game you buy will worth with your hardware. Neither of the PC based solutions are anywhere close to being that turnkey currently.

    • I have a PSVR, and, with the exception of Resident Evil 7 (which was amazing), it's largely been collecting dust. This isn't the PSVR's fault, because as a piece of hardware it's rock-solid. The real problem, like you said, is there's not enough software support.

      That's why I'd advise against the PSVR over a PC solution- assuming the buyer can afford it and doesn't want to wait. While the PSVR is unquestionably the most comfortable headset, and resolution matters a lot less than people might think, the PS4

    • Go away, shit somewhere else. I bought the second generation hardware, in 1998. As it was dying, knowing there were 20 games that worked. I got it at half price, it was still seven bucks.

      Well made VR pron works, doesn't make you sick (unless you get a female POV one). Games will work or not on their own strengths.

      The end.

    • ....Maybe. I don't entirely disagree, despite the fact that I'm a Vive owner. One thing I'll say is that HTC have no reported plans or a "Vive2" any time soon, and seem to be building and releasing things in a fairly modular way. Wireless is on the way this year, as is a new, supposedly more comfortable headstrap with headphones built in. There's talk of upgraded versions (ie easier to manufacture, I believe - no real technical advantage) of the lighthouses, but nothing announced as far as I know. A higher

      • Ditto all that. I think VR is here to stay and I'm not willing to wait until some arbitrary level of fidelity is achieved. The Vive is an absolute blast today (omg Pavlov) and a stream of new hardware is going to make it even better over time. With sufficient space, rig and cash I don't believe anyone will regret the purchase.
  • Rift is better visually. Vive has much better room scale tracking. Vive accommodates glasses better
  • I bought a Rift and although it is a great VR headset, my biggest disappointment is that for the money I paid, I expected to be able to see all the newest VR content out there. This cannot be any further from the truth. I can't even experience Google Earth (without hacking) on the Rift and there are countless Gear VR experiences I would love to try, but I cannot do so. So PC headsets are a good buy if you are a gamer with specific games in mind, but for experiencing general and free VR content, the Gear VR

  • by Wescotte ( 732385 ) on Saturday March 18, 2017 @10:52AM (#54065247)

    Technically speaking the Rift and Vive headsets are very close. The Rift has a slightly lower FOV resulting a higher pixel density which ends up producing slightly less screen door effect. However, people also complain the Rift has more lens flair issues than the Vive does. So when it comes to which one objectively looks better you can make solid arguments for both headsets and it comes down to which specific flaws stand out more to you.

    The Rift (out of the box) is absolutely better when it comes to ergonomics but having integrated headphones is debatable... I personally decided to get rid of the Vive strap and did a variation of the welding mask mod ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] ) and feel that closed the gap in terms of comfort. There is an official HTC strap coming in the next few months that will resolve Vive comfort issues. It won't be included and sold for another $100 but I suspect with the Rift price cut they're going to rethink that strategy.

    Touch vs Vive wands is tricky... It really depends on what game you are playing as both have their advantages and disadvantages. Touch is absolutely better for gesturing and feels closer to actually having your hands in VR. However, when it comes to holding objects like a sword or a gun the Vive wand feels more natural/realistic. HTC has a tracker module coming out in the next few months that will allow all sorts of 3rd party peripherals and Valve has demoed new controller prototypes so any advantages Touch has probably won't be long lived.

    When it comes to tracking the lighthouse technology is superior. If you are just playing seated games then Rift is faster/easier to setup but as soon as you're standing and want to move around there is no contest. You can get a good room scale experience with a Rift but it is more complicated to setup and is still officially considered "experimental" by Oculus.

    Openness/Compatibility is another obvious win for HTC/Valve over Oculus/Facebook. Oculus wants you to use its store and only with its hardware and has DRM to prevent other hardware from using their software. Revive is software that less you bypass the DRM and play Rift games with the Vive but Oculus could break it anytime they want (they stated they won't anymore...) and have done so in the past. HTC's new tracker module offers tons of flexibility. Valve's lighthouse technology is being used with LG's upcoming ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] ) VR headset. Even though I don't agree with Oculus business practices I admit i still think it's debatable which is better for VR in the long run as they are throwing tons of money into software development.

    I'm a Vive owner since June and would still recommend Vive over Rift in spite of the $200 price difference. However, I still absolutely recommend you check out both in person and see for yourself.

    • I tried a rift at work last week (think it was DR2). The low quality shocked me, horrific lens distortion and chunky grating pixelation. People seem to have different tolerances for resolution, but I would say that it needs to double to be comfortable to use. At current resolutions it feels horrific.

      Relative levels of quality between the rift and the vive are interesting: but the absolute level seems too low on this first generation (personal opinion obviously, YMMV). I'm still looking forward to trying Pro

      • DK2? I never tried one so I don't know how different they are to the consumer versions but...

        The resolution on the DK2 is 960 x 1080 per eye where the CV1 (Rift you buy at the store) is 1080 x 1200 as is the Vive. There is definitely room to improve on the optics but if you look with your head instead of your eyes you generally stay in the sweet spot and won't have distortion issues.

        Aliasing issues from low resolution can be mitigated quite a bit by supersampling too.

        LG demoed their HMD at GDC and they are

        • The aliasing that I saw was kind of weird, could have been the earlier hardware or the software demo that was running on it. The "pixels" that were visible was not a regular grid of squares. They looked like a tessalating pattern, where each pixel in the image had a shape that looked like several smaller rectangles glued together. The overall effect was like looking at a textile "mesh" or a screendoor close up.

          The other unit that I played with was a newer chinese unit (I forget the brand name). It had integ

          • I haven't used the PSVR but from what I've heard despite being lower resolution it doesn't have the noticeable screen door effect that the Rift/Vive does. I believe it's because the display panel using a RGB layout instead of a Pentile one for the subpixel arrangement. The aliasing absolutely is a resolution issue but supersampling really helps reduce it. Rumor has it that LG is developing a VR specific display for their upcoming headset that will significantly reduce these issues.

  • If I was throwing away money I'd get the PSVR because of RE7 and other big budget VR games including racing franchises (and with some extra software like Trinus it can be used with Steam on PC), but these are first generation devices. If I were to be smart with my money I would wait for a new generation of devices that have perfected tracking, have higher definition displays, and are overall less expensive. By then a lot more games would be out as well, it's still slim pickings.

  • My friends and I own both systems, honestly as first generation systems they work damn well.

    The Vive was launched with motion tracked controllers from the start, and I feel a lot of the enthusiasts went towards that product. The /Vive Reddit group is particularly vocal about the product and reminds me of console wars played out decades ago.

    The Oculus Rift is similar in many ways to an Apple product in terms of higher level of refinement and ease of use. Facebook/Oculus are funding developers to develop qual

  • Informed opinion (Score:5, Informative)

    by hoover11 ( 4904491 ) on Saturday March 18, 2017 @12:17PM (#54065681)

    We have a product that runs now on Rift, Vive, and PSVR and will soon on Daydream and upcoming mobile and Windows VR. Take my opinion for what it's worth.

    Comfortable VR requires low-latency motion sensing, screen displays with pixels on/off for precise periods to avoid blur or flickering, simulation and rendering that is at least 60 fps, and asynchronous reprojection of that output to 90 or 120 hz. All of the above VR systems are capable of comfortable VR running applications that meet that framerate requirement. Many would additionally argue that head-position tracking is a requirement for comfortable VR, because otherwise the world "moves" with your head. We say it's definitely better to have than not, as long as it has the same low-latency as rotation sensing and is reliable.

    Applications also need to minimize the difference between acceleration you see with your eyes and feel with your balance. Our research shows people have different trigger thresholds for simulation sickness, and different sensitivities to different types of acceleration (for instance most people can handle differences in forward acceleration than vertical, and both better than turning). Different applications have many ways to address this: low detail backgrounds or background occlusion when turning, "cockpits" that turn with you, shuttering of FOV to reduce peripheral detail when turning, teleporting, acceleration limits, head-synced turning, level design that encourages more or less accelerations and vertigo, room-scale only movement, etc. You will have to jump in yourself and find what you are capable of and what applications do the trick for you.

    The rest comes down to features and ecosystem of each VR system. Hardware systems have been evolving very rapidly but here's a brief rundown.

    Vive & Rift are very similar from sensing and screen and computing requirements,wide fields of view, high application framerates, They both now require a tether to your PC with I5-4590 & GTX 970 or better performance. Vive came out with full room-scale position sensing and two hand-controllers, which has led to a lot of great room-scale applications. Rift came out with built-in headphones which are key to enjoying the full VR experience, as sounds can be "binaurally" mixed to sound like they are coming from precise locations, and is lighter than Vive. There are a lot of Vive add-ons available now or soon that include face covers, wireless transmission, tracking pucks and alternate head mounts with headphones.

    PSVR actually has a higher screen refresh (120 hz) than Vive & Rift (90 hz) which makes looking around (with async reprojection) feel more crisp. But most PSVR applications run at 60 fps rather than 90 fps like most Vive & Rift apps, which makes object animations and positional travel less crisp. PS4 Pro apps can hit 90 fps at about the same level of detail but that depends on the developer. The PSVR's screen might be the brighest and uses a different pixel technology, less little dots and more solid squares, that is a matter of taste. It's a little heavier than Vive but is balanced between front and back so the weight rests on your forehead--in fact its screen guard doesn't even touch your face like Vive & Rift, and can move out and in for easier use by glasses wearers. PSVR's position tracking relies on visible light which is a bit less robust than the other two, though all of them have problems in direct sunlight.

    Microsoft VR is further out but looks to be aiming for PSVR level performance on PCs with less than Rift/Vive specs. A notable feature is "inside-out" position tracking, coming from their Hololens research, which doesn't require external cameras like Vive/Rift/PSVR.

    Daydream on a Pixel phone (Snapdragon 821) is surprisingly good for mobile. In our tests it has about twice the power of S7 running on GearVR, which our application can't yet run on with sufficient detail. Its applications require 60 fps but it has asynchronous reprojection to what feels like a 90 hz screen refre

  • Buddies of mine are bulding a business in Germany offering multiplayer experiences in VR. They tested all and Vive beat them all. Which is no real surprise, since it is the most sophisticsted system. The others are at least two generations behind.

  • It all depends on what you want out of VR.

    The only computer I have at home these days is a Surface Pro 4, so Rift & Vive don't interest me at this point.

    After following posts by/about John Carmack for years I figured if he plays Minecraft on the GearVR weekly, the experience must be pretty good. A refurbished Galaxy S7 ($300), a X-box One Bluetooth controller ($60), and a GearVR ($99) later and I am a happy camper.

    GearVR is admittedly VR-Lite since it does not have positional tracking (only rotational)

  • I have a Vive and really like it -- being able to stand up and walk around in an area seems to largely prevent the motion sickness I'd heard about. I have a flight simulator that I have to sit down to play, and can make myself queasy with that in a matter of seconds, and I usually don't have a problem with motion sickness at all.

    The most fun thing to do with it, though, is to have guests over and introduce them to VR. The most played games in my library are The Lab's archery demo, fruit ninja VR and the s

    • I'm considering Vive for a flight sim. Other than the motion sickness, how does it work? Does the forward facing camera help? I've heard about smudged text on the instrument panels and some people would recommend TrackIR over VR. Also considered it for Elite Dangerous, which is possible to play without looking at your keyboard but X-Plane not so much.

      • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
        Ah well, as to that, Eagle Flight and Google Earth VR blur the edges of your field of view while you're moving, which seems to help immensely with it. I get the most queasy with the flight sim when I'm looking at a point in the distance about 50 degrees or more to my left and right while flying. Once I figured this out, I just stopped doing that and as a result was able to fly a plane without a problem.

        I tried Elite Dangerous VR briefly, but found it to be entirely disorienting. A large part of that was n

      • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
        I'm actually not entirely sure about the controls on the plane. I'll have to check my sim to see if they have a Twin Otter. I often sit near the pilot in a twin otter, so I know the gauge layout reasonably well. I have a simple joystick/throttle setup, so that doesn't really map well to the controls of any plane I've ever seen. I suppose you could say in the flight sim I mostly fly VFR and don't look at the gauges that much.
      • by Octorian ( 14086 )

        Elite: Dangerous, with a proper HOTAS setup, is an excellent example of how a flight sim game in VR should work. Because of the nature of the game, they were able to virtually position all the HUD elements quite ideally for VR play. (However, once in a while, you still may need to attempt to touch-type on a keyboard for searching for star systems... Not frequently, though.)

        More realistic flight sims are severely harmed by the limited resolution, and lack of comfortable close-focus, because its hard to vis

  • HTC vive is artificially tied to steam. You must have steam to even use Vive.

    Rift is tied to Facebook. Rift maintains 24x7 persistent connections to Facebook from a service running with full administrative access to your system. It routinely uploads logs with data including every application you used with Rift and imposes mandatory software updates. There are no configuration settings of any kind to disable or prevent any of this from occurring.

    Oculus has piss poor QA internally. Their automated updates

  • I got a Samsung Gear, and I have no idea what to do with it. It seems to be some locked-in sort of bullshit thing with lame videos of crap I could care less about. Then it stops working after ten minutes, and tells me it's too hot. Hell, I could hardly hold my phone in my hand, not good for the battery that can't be removed! I originally bought it for my DJI Mavic for FPV since those lame ducks haven't produced the googles they said they would, but that requires a USB cable to the transmitter, and the Gear
  • by xlsior ( 524145 )
    The Steam Hardware Survey shows 0.23% of users having a Vive, vs. 0.11% with an Oculus Rift and 0.2% with the older Rift DK2 development kit
    http://store.steampowered.com/... [steampowered.com]
    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      However, most of the good games for the Rift are available through the Oculus store so Rift users are likely under represented in those stats.
  • I have a Rift and, while it seems to work just fine, VR is almost there but not quite.

    The first issue is the resolution. It's not the high resolution, crisp displays we're used to with current gen monitors.

    The Vive is glasses friendly, sort of. You'll need narrow frames if you want to comfortably wear them.

    Some folks don't care for the weight, but it doesn't bother me much. Is similar to a set of heavy headphones like the Astro A50's.

    The cable connection is a pita and I find myself unwinding from it quit

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have all the Oculus devices since dev kit 1 for work. Over the last year my (nearly grown up) kids and I all chipped in and bought VR headsets and rigs just for kicks.; so now we also jointly own current versions of the Vive and a PS VR.
    We use the PS VR only for gaming; while we use the Oculus and Vive for both gaming and non-gaming applications. Non-gaming applications include data visualization, 360 degree video experiences, watching 3D movies. We also did some initial experiments in alternate reality e

  • I run a museum with a public VR setup, introduced last July. After looking at HTC Vive and Oculus Rift I decided the Rift was better for our situation because it's more comfortable and the visuals scored better with my test audiences. IMO the resolution and overall visual experience is close enough that it's not a big deal but I do give the edge to the Rift. I also love the Touch controllers but I haven't tried the Vive controller so I can't compare.

    You can safely ignore the people who claim VR is dead or d

  • For some background:
    I lead an Augmented and Virtual Reality community of practice. As such, I've developed for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Microsoft Hololens, and Google Cardboard (I haven't gotten to Daydream yet). I've used OSVR and PSVR, though I haven't developed for them. Here's my current breakdown:

    HTC Vive is likely best-of-breed VR tech at this moment (more on this later). If you have a fairly large space (15+ square feet), it has a better tracking system, though it does at time have foibles. The cor

  • Everyone has their opinion of course but all I can tell you is I fucking love my Vive. I've dedicated a room to it and while it's hard to find time in between work and family it's truly an escape like no other. Google Earth is almost enough reason to have it alone. Let alone exploring space, works real and imagined, and of course games. Why watch entertainment when you can be inside it? Everyone should try it.
  • The biggest weakness is they are all the technological style equivalent of the brick-sized cellphones of 1980, and are going to look primitive in three years compared to the ones they will then be selling for $34.95 at Wall-Mart.

  • There are a number of hardware debates here, but for most people what matters is the software that exists and how well it runs, given that the general VR display and tracking is roughly the same between Rift and Vive. But the Rift software is much better than the Vive software. Blame it on exclusives, but the fact remains. And the Oculus engine is better than Vive and runs smoother and with better detail on any given hardware. This is largely because the Rift has "ASW" and "ATW" and the Vive only has partia

  • Virtual reality headsets sounds amazing. I want them.

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