Virtual Reality is not new, it’s not even a recent thing, but in the last few years with advances in technology and a reduction in the price of various sensors and screens the whole thing has gotten very very real. I’ve tried them all, and let me tell you Sony Playstation VR is the best of the best.
There’s a few different approaches to Virtual Reality. The smartphone with a headset it sits in, the headset with screens built in, and the top end is a headset with screens in it and sensors or cameras pointing at it to create a wider “world”.
Samsung have rushed to the front of the smartphone VR race with their Gear VR headset which works with almost any recent Samsung Phone.
Google wisely created the “cardboard” which works with almost any smartphone and is a very low cost approach.
Both these allow an immersive experience where you can look around a virtual environment and when paired with a games controller becomes interactive.
However they suffer from the inability to “move” around your environment.
Enter the big daddy – HTC Vive, along with Oculus this headset is more advanced, and the Vive comes with controllers to hold which can ‘appear’ in your virtual environment, and sensors which can see where you are moving within a confined space.
The problem is, the basic ones aren’t amazing quality, and the HTC Vive is many thousands of dollars and complex to setup.
It’s for this reason I was first blown away with Playstation VR.
Receiving a unit last week my enthusiasm was reinforced at every step.
The headset for Playstation VR is high quality and very comfortable.
Setting the unit up is a breeze, the large format instruction booklet walks you through the steps one by one with absolute ease.
It is a complex setup made simple, with new HDMI connections, a new VR controller box requiring power, and USB connections to the PS4 along with the cabled connection to the Playstation VR headset it can look overwhelming.
This morning I packed it all up, the entire system, PS4 and all – except for the TV. Fitted into one of those reusable shopping bags, except for my PS4 which I took a bit of extra care with. I then set it all up at the office of 2UE and it took 5 minutes.
With the help of the Playstation Camera, your loungeroom (or office) comes to life with Virtual Reality.
The VR headset costs $549. If you don’t have a Playstation camera that’s another $99. Assuming you have a PS4 that’s the total cost. Bang for your buck, this thing is punching way way outside its weight range. It’s outstanding value.
That alone is enough to convince me to recommend it, and I haven’t even used it yet!
It can take some adjusting, to get the thing sitting right, feeling right and I did have a few times when the lenses fogged up or I felt it was out of focus, for the most part you find your groove very quickly.
The entire PlayStation menu system works in VR, the blue familiar home screen becomes like a big screen at the cinema, the same happens if you play normal (non-VR) games. When you launch a VR experience though, the whole thing goes 360 degrees.
I’ve played a few games, the Playstation VR worlds is a great way to experience VR. Ocean Dive in a Shark tank, Luge run and London Heist which is truly interactive with the motion controllers if you have them is something I can’t recommend enough.
I tried RIGS Mechanized Combat League and found that my motion sickness on other VR systems is emulated in a world where you move fast around and have that walking or movement sensation over and above a simple standing or sitting environment. Not for me. At all.
— Trevor Long 📻 💻📺 (@trevorlong) October 10, 2016
Then I pulled out my Red Bull Racing F1 Playseat with the Logitech Steering Wheel. Driveclub VR awaits.
And it didn’t disappoint. The driving experience when you’re able to look through a corner as you turn, to glance at your competitors around you is nothing short of sensational.
I was blown away by the experience.
It left me sweating and exhausted because it was so real. So real.
But the sensation is too real
As someone who suffers from motion sickness broadly, I don’t read books as a passenger in the car, can’t even use my mobile or read emails in a car for too long.
Honestly, the evening I played Driveclub I felt it for a while, this is a very real sensation. It’s not for everyone.
But that just verifies how amazing it is right?
It’s magic, some kind of wizardry. This thing knows you’re walking around, it knows your basic movements, it’s so so so much more than just looking around and up and down on an axis.
People have asked me if it performs ok in brightly lit rooms. Spot on, no issues. Our loungeroom has bright LED downlights, pointing right where I placed the VR. No issue.
The office at 2UE had bright sunlight beaming through the window, no issue.
I didn’t notice any glitching of the detection of movement, my only issue was getting too close to the camera which detects your movement.
Impressive. And Smart. In a game like London Heist, the sound is coming from the person talking. And as you move your head, that sound moves to the side of you facing that person – it works very well – realistically so.
The Image Quality
In my previous goes at Playstation VR I was blown away by the quality. I think now on reflection that was the quality of the games not the screen.
On many “mobile” VR apps the quality is cheap and poor, so anything on the PS4 is amazing right?
Nope. It’s like going back a few years in graphics quality. Driveclub felt like I was looking at the whole world through a fly screen mesh. You can see very pixel. That faint mesh appears in every environment – and you get very used to it, but it’s not as good as the quality of the graphics being shown on your TV screen.
Amazing resolution, but noticeable pixels. This is where 2.0 will blow our minds.
Not for Kids
Parents, your kids want a go, they want to try it all, but the booklet and the on-screen warnings are clear – it’s not for kids under 12.
Developing eyes, developing minds can be twisted, confused and challenged by VR, thus, no VR system is suitable for kids.
As much as they want to, you can’t let them play it.
This is without question the vest Virtual Reality system on the market today. The quality of the unit, the quality of the picture, the immersive experience and the advanced ability to track not just head movement by whole of body movement within a space is a game changer – at $549 it’s irresistible.
Go. And. Get. One.
Oh, and your mates?
Seriously, have your mobile phone camera rolling for their first reaction – you’ll soon see how scared of sharks they are:)
— Trevor Long 📻 💻📺 (@trevorlong) October 13, 2016
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.