So let’s go down to the basics. What is VR all about?
VR, short for virtual reality, refers to the use of digital technology to simulate a 3D environment. Using a mounted headset, allows users to be placed within the 3D world, allowing them to interact and have an immersive experience. Sometimes, a controller is required to control certain aspects of the experience or emulate your hands within the virtual space.
Now let’s explore some terminologies that are associated with VR:
Field of View (FOV)
When they are talking about FOV, it is often referred to as the field of view - what you can see within the virtual environment at any given moment, whilst using the headset. Much like the degree of view that we would see with our eyes in the real world.
Degree of Freedom (DoF)
Degree of Freedom generally means the movement and tracking in the VR. The higher the degree of freedom, the more immersive the experience is. There are two most common terms you will see often when searching about VR Headsets - 3DoF and 6DoF.
3 Degree of Freedom: VR Headsets that provide 3 DoF means that it will only track your head’s movement, but not your position.
6 Degree of Freedom: For headsets that offer 6DoF, it means that the headset has the ability to track both your head movement and your coordinates within your environment.
What is the difference between VR headsets?
From Google Cardbox to Pico headsets to Oculus Headsets, it can get very overwhelming. As VR is increasingly becoming widely accessible it can get confusing between the different types of VR Headsets - what is the difference between PC VR and Mobile VR? What VR headset is the best today? Which VR headset will provide me with the most immersive and ultra HD experience? Will this VR headset let me get the most out of my money? Not to worry, we are here to help. Here is your ultimate guide.
1. Mobile VR
The most simplistic and affordable VR headset in comparison to the rest. Mobile VR head-mounted displays like the Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR and Merge VR generally consist of 3 design cues - a plastic casing hosting a pair of magnifying lenses with cushioning (can’t forget comfort) and a screen that can average between 4 to 6 inches. Like the name suggests, the mobile VR headsets run off your mobile devices, therefore it heavily relies on the technology of your smartphone to power the Android and iOS VR Apps.
However, the downside of its simplicity is the lower processing power, the lower quality, laggy performance caused by overheating and minimal interactivity with the virtual environment. Mobile VR apps are created with the buttons found on the headset casing unit in mind, meaning they will create functions through whatever buttons are on the casing, which usually involves more than 1 button on the headset
Mobile VR generally doesn't have a hand controller, usually, controls are found on the headset casing where you use your head to move around rather than hands. Mobility limitations and interactivity limitations, more passive immersive rather than interactive immersive.
2. PC VR
Stepping up from the Mobile VR head-mounted displays, we have the PC VR headsets. PC VR refers to any headsets that run off external computers or gaming consoles - meaning it requires a constant connection to a computer.
The benefits of a PC VR like Oculus Rifts, HTC VIVE and Windows Mixed Reality like HP, Acer and Asus, is that it provides a highly advanced feature like motion tracking and high-quality graphical definition and is said to be better at reducing motion sickness. Hence, PC VR headsets tend to be used for gaming purposes.
The downside is that in order to have the best experience, you will need a powerful gaming computer and you, as the user, have less freedom to move around as you are constantly required to be connected to your PC. This can cause inconvenience and pose a hazard if not careful with the wires, especially if you get tangled in them if you twirl too much.
WMR headsets range from $800 - $2,000 AUD depending on brands and models
3. Standalone VR
Slightly on the higher-end of the spectrum, we have the standalone VR, which is considered a more advanced and powerful headset. A portable and standalone headset means it has its own CPU, a higher processor compared to mobile VR and a battery allowing the headset to work completely by itself without the need for pre-existing technology or fancy PC/equipment.
Yes, that is right, that means the hardware is stored in the headpiece itself. Now, you are probably thinking, isn't it going to be bulky and heavy? Well, we are happy to let you know that standalone VR headsets are actually comfortable and lighter in weight in comparison to the other VR Headsets, ideal for classroom and training purposes. Standalone VR provides more flexibility as it allows you to move around a set out empty space without wiring limiting your movement.
From a price standpoint, standalone VR headsets will cost more than your Mobile VR headsets.
Oculus ranges from $500 - $700 AUD depending on model
Picos ranges from $500 - $1,000 AUD depending on model
HTC ranges from $800 - $1,300 AUD depending on model
An excellent example of this is the Oculus range (Oculus Go, Oculus Quest & Oculus Quest 2) and the Pico range (Pico G2, Pico G2 4K, Pico Neo 2, Pico Neo 3).