Guide to VR: Everything you need to know about headsets and experiences

VR and the metaverse are two terms that we’ve all heard a lot about over the past year. The metaverse is something, but what exactly is VR? Is it really the future? While I don’t have an answer for the fact that virtual reality will be an everyday way of computing in the future, I do know what VR is, and I’ve even spent a bit of time in the metaverse (talking mostly to myself).

There aren’t many options when it comes to VR headsets, but the options you do have are from big companies. From Meta’s Quest 2 (formerly the Oculus Quest 2) or Sony’s PlayStation VR headset until HTC Vive Flow that seems to come from the future or Steam’s Valve Index — your bases are covered, regardless of budget or capabilities.

Below are frequently asked questions with answers for VR noobs and veterans alike.

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What is VR?

Virtual reality (VR) is an interactive and immersive experience powered by modern technology. To participate in a VR experience, you put on a headset that usually contains two lenses and screens. The headset is either connected to a computer or contains everything needed to create a virtual world, such as a roller coaster ride, and display it on the screens.

There are many different usage scenarios for VR headsets, with the main applications currently being gaming, fitness and entertainment.

What are common VR terms I should know?

Learning about a new product category can be intimidating if you’re going through blog and forum posts with acronyms or terms you’re unfamiliar with. Here are a few of those terms and their meanings that will hopefully help you feel more comfortable during your research.

Field of View (FOV): This is how much of an environment you can see when wearing a VR headset. The higher the number, the more of the virtual scene you can see, and the more immersive the experience will be.

Refresh rate: Like any computer monitor or TV, the screen in your VR headset refreshes at a certain rate. The screen refresh rate plays a big part in making the overall experience feel realistic. The higher the refresh rate, the better. If you’re someone who often gets motion sickness or dizziness from VR, you’ll want to avoid anything with a refresh rate of less than 90 frames per second.

Positional tracking: One aspect of VR that contributes to the feeling of being in another world is your ability to move in that world. To do that, however, the headset needs a way to track your movements. That means tracking where you look, where your hands are and what they’re doing, as well as where you are in a special room. Some headsets provide tracking through the headset itself, while others require base stations to be set up in a specific room for better tracking.

Aren’t VR headsets expensive?

VR headsets have traditionally been expensive. But as the market matures and more companies enter the mix, the price of a VR headset begins to drop. For example the Meta Quest 2 costs $299 for a completely wireless experience.

However, headsets like Valve’s Index VR Kit (which comes with two controllers and two base stations) costs $999. Vive’s Pro 2 is the most expensive of the group, at $1,399. It also comes with two controllers and two base stations.

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Are there any additional costs or expenses for VR?

After you buy the hardware, you still have to pay for apps and games. The costs for the software depend on the platform and the app itself. For example, Beat Saber, one of the more popular games on Meta headsets costs $29.99. Steam’s Valve headset works with VR games that you purchase from Steam.

Vive offers a Viveport subscription for $12.99 per month, or $8.99 per month if you prepay for a year. That subscription gives you unlimited access to all apps and games on the platform.

Sony’s PlayStation VR platform also sells VR specific games for you to download and play.

All the platforms mentioned here have free demos along with free games and apps. So while you won’t have to pay for everything, the more popular titles will have some sort of fee – just like any gaming PC or console.

Do I need a gaming PC to use a VR headset?

Whether or not you need a gaming PC depends on the type of VR headset you buy. For example, Meta’s Quest 2 is a standalone headset that can be used anywhere – no PC required. However, the Valve Index requires a PC, while the PlayStation VR requires Playstation 4 or Playstation 5

The Vive Flow Not only does it look like a futuristic pair of sunglasses, but there is no requirement for a connected PC, but it does require a paired Android phone. Vive has several other VR headsets, such as the Pro and Cosmos series, all of which need to be connected to a PC.

How much space do I need to use a VR headset?

It depends on. Technically, all you need is enough free space around you that you can turn around and twist or swing your arms without hitting anything. However, as my kids and I can personally attest, the more space the better. Even playing a casual round of Beat Saber often results in the person playing not staying in the same spot in every song. You don’t need an entire room that is clear of obstacles, but you want as much space as possible to make sure you don’t bump into or trip over anything.

Meta recommends a 6.5 by 6.5 foot space to use the Roomscale feature that allows you to walk around the play area.

When using the MetaQuest 2 in a new room, you go through a quick setup process to mark and identify your play space. You lay a grid on the floor, then you can mark your safe space by drawing a line on the floor.

During gameplay, if you walk around and get close to the edge of the boundary, the virtual reality world you are currently seeing will become transparent, allowing you to see your real environment and reminding you that you are close to the edge of your vault. are Surface.

Will I get sick?

Could be. Personally, I get motion sickness from games and apps where my character walks around while I stay still. But in games like Beat Saber or watching a movie on Netflix, I have much better luck avoiding dizziness and/or motion sickness.

I will repeat the advice I was given early on when I started testing the MetaQuest 2

  • Take breaks. When you start to feel sick, your body is telling you to take a break.
  • Go slow. Don’t start thinking you can play a game for an hour or even 30 minutes. Start by familiarizing yourself with the menu. Then maybe watch a video or two. Then play a stationary game, and so on.
  • High-end headsets (all of which have been discussed here) are better for those who suffer from motion sickness. The higher refresh rate of the screens helps a lot.

The most important thing is that you have fun. Being transported to another world, or spending time in the metaverse chatting with friends really does feel like we’re living in the future. As long as you don’t get sick.

Pricing is accurate and items in stock at time of publication.

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